African Americans disproportionately represented on sex offender registries

By Sandy . . . At this time of public outrage and demands for meaningful criminal justice reform, one area in need of serious attention is the racial make-up of our states’ sexual offense registries.

In 2018 a study was done that has been largely ignored. It shows conclusively that in every state in the union except one – Michigan – African American citizens are disproportionately represented on Megan’s Law registries. The disparity ranges from 1.08 in Texas to 10.99 in Minnesota. Only five states fall between 1 and 1.4. Seventeen states are between 1.5 and 2; twenty-three are between 2 and 4. The outliers on the upper end are Connecticut at 4.32, Washington at 4.26, Oregon at 7.20, and the already mentioned 10.99 in Minnesota. Michigan is 0.82.

These numbers may not seem large, but what do they mean? They mean that in Texas, African Americans are 1.08 times more likely to be included on the sex offense registry than their white counterparts, and in Minnesota they are 10.99 times more likely to become registered.

What does this mean in terms of actual people?

In Texas, the state with the least disparity, 78.8% of the population, according to the latest Census Bureau figures, is white (this number includes Hispanic) with 12.8% being black. The remainder are Asian and other. The percentage of Texas citizens on the sex offense registry, however, shows 76.93% white and 22.59% black.

Looking at a state whose disparity rate falls somewhere in the middle, North Carolina, (1.81) the white population is 70.6%, and the black is 22.2%. The North Carolina Sexual Offense Registry reflects a make- up of 60.97% white and 36.96% black.

Minnesota’s numbers are staggering. While the white population of that state is 84.1%, white Minnesotans make up only 54.74% of those on the registry. The black population of Minnesota comprises only 6.8%, yet 38.6% of the state’s registry is black.

Recent events have brought to the forefront the need for law enforcement to guard carefully against such things as racial profiling and  ill treatment of all, especially more frequently targeted people of color. However, this study indicates a deeper and more serious bias, one that reaches into our court system as well as our law enforcement entities.

It appears that black males in America are not only at a greater risk for being harmed or killed when stopped by law enforcement; they are also at greater risk of being included on the sex offender list.

It is time for equal justice under the law to actually mean what it says.

 

* Totals for state percentages will not add to 100 due to other categories such as native, Asian and other. Percentages for registries will be close to 100% but, depending on the state, not completely, also due to the other categories. Hispanic is included in white.

 

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #73589 Reply
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      d

      This is very interesting considering the movies/TV almost always show a middle aged, white, over weight, bald guy as the creepy sex offender. I always thought there were more men matching this description.

    • #73593 Reply
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      Michael Miller

      I read your article and unfortunately do not a as agree with you. Being an RSO myself a and working with the program in prison I think you are off base here. A lot has to do with family upbringing and what is deemed acceptable in Ones culture. In my opinion sex offenders in general are thought of as the worst of the worst it regardless of their race. While it may be true that some white individuals can afford a better attorney that does not always play out. I’m white and I did not have money for one. We keep harping on black people not getting equal treatment with the law. The majority of SO’s are treated fairly equal as in harsh punishment for any sex crime. Sorry I just don’t agree with your though process.

      • #73595 Reply
        Sandy Rozek
        Sandy Rozek
        Admin

        Thank you, Michael; it isn’t unfortunate that you disagree; it is your right. However, I need to point out that the conclusions reached aren’t really my own. They are the conclusions reached by the researchers based on the data. I am just reporting on what they found. And to be clear, neither they nor I are saying that people of color commit sexual crimes at a higher rate than anyone else. They — and I, based on their data and conclusions — are saying that the system favors the white defendant over the black defendant. The ability to hire a better attorney is certainly part, but not all, of it. Another factor would be the D.A. being willing to plead down to a charge that didn’t require registration for one but not for the other. This is an extremely complex issue, and there are no simple explanations — or solutions — to the complex problems.

    • #73596 Reply
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      Dwight

      I again cant agree with your premise as an RSO myself who been in the system now over 20 years who sadly buck the system years ago and found myself again inside the fence….this maybe the one system sex offense prosecution that unless you have money black or white that we are treated equal. We are strained, strength and broken so we will take a plea or in the case that we fight we lose just as big white or black…i understand numbers but i personally haven’t seen anything even close to back those numbers up. We are third rate citizens from the time we get tagged to the time we leave if ever… the whole system needs an overall for prosecution as my witness came forward years later after i stewed in prison and the 11th state circuit court told myself and the “victim” that she didnt believe his recant and that i waited to long to keep this case open and they shut me into the system forever so no whites are not treated any better or worst we all sadly have the same footing when it come to sex crimes

      • #73605 Reply
        Sandy Rozek
        Sandy Rozek
        Admin

        Dwight, you are misunderstanding the purpose of the study and of my analysis of it. It has nothing to do with how those labeled sex offenders are treated. It has nothing to do with who has a more difficult time than someone else. It is no more or no less than a statement that, based on population and the percentage of each on the registry, African-Americans are over-represented.
        Consider it like this: Ten people are charged with the same exact crime. All ten are found guilty by trial. Five are men and five are women. Of the men, four are put in prison and one is given probation. Of the women, one is put in prison and four are given probation. It is an undeniable fact that the men were disproportionately punished more severely. It says nothing about why or how they were treated or anything else. It only says that the men were disproportionately sent to prison. And if this pattern repeated itself over and over for several years, it would be accurate to say that men were several times more likely to be given prison sentences than women for the same crime. Those two things are all that this study is saying — disproportionate representation on the registry for African-Americans and that they are more likely than their white counterparts to be registered.

    • #73602 Reply
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      Ed C

      Sandy, the stats may be correct, but it is difficult to derive conclusions as to cause. So, I won’t try. However, the numbers are one more indicator that our criminal justice system has serious problems that go well beyond police brutality and racial disparities. As one of my prison friends once said, “[t]he criminal justice system ain’t broken. It’s fixed.” In terms of sex crimes, the accused seem to be considered guilty until proven guilty.

      With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I have to say we do have the best criminal justice system that money can buy.

      Veritas.

    • #73606 Reply
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      perplexed in NC

      I wonder why NARSOL feels the need to jump into the race question. No one can possibly know who and how many are wrongly convicted or labeled a RSO—regardless of race. AND why try? Isn’t the issue more of what role government should play in labeling, shunning, and prejudicing folks based on alleged offenses?

      Let’s not buy into distractions or movements de jour…We need less government. Period.

    • #73614 Reply
      Sandy Rozek
      Sandy Rozek
      Admin

      And that is exactly the issue and the only issue of this study, the role that government, in the form of the judicial system, plays. For the purpose of this study, being wrongly convicted is immaterial. It doesn’t matter how one ended up on the registry. The data shows that African-Americans end up on it at a higher rate than do Caucasians.
      Although now that I think of it, the most prominent cases of wrongly convicted that leap to mind were of black men: Brian Banks; Darryl Hunt; James Giles; Van Dyke Perry and Gregory Counts (convicted for a gang rape that never happened) and very recently Archie Williams.

      Now THAT would be an interesting study; are juries more willing to convict an African-American man of a sexual crime than they are a white one?

    • #73623 Reply
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      emma

      I AGREE TO A CERTAIN EXTENT. ALL SOs ARE TREATED BADLY. MOST BLACKS ARE OUT RAGELY TREATED UNFAIRLY IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.

      MY SON HAD AN APPOINTED ATTORNEY. HIS DNA WAS INCONCLUSIVE. HE WAS PLACED ON A DEFERRED PROBATION FOR 8 YEARS. THERE’S NO WAY. MY SON COULD HAD COMPLETED THE PROBATION, DUE TO BEING YOUNG AND NOT FOCUSING.

      NOW, HE’S ON LIFETIME RESGISTRY. THIS REGISTRY IS A PUNISHMENT. NOT A REGULATION. I DON’T CARE WHAT RACE IT IS. ALL OF THIS IS A MADE UP MORON LAW. PEOPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE BEING TERRORIZED AND KILLED ON THIS SO REGISTRY. THIS IS A WASTE OF TAX PAYERS MONIES.

      TAKE THE SO REGISTRY AWAY AND WE ALL CAN SAVE MONEY AND PREVENT TAXES FROM BEING INCREASED. LAWMAKERS ARE IGNORING THE SO OFFENDER REGISTRY TO KEEP CERTAIN PEOPLE VOTES. ALL OF THIS MADE UP LAWS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND PLAIN IGNORANT.

      • #73626 Reply
        Fred
        Fred
        Admin

        Hello Emma,
        We appreciate your input and you make good points, but I want to let you know for a future reference that commenting in ALL CAPS is strongly discouraged here.

    • #73624 Reply
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      Tired of Being Mistreated

      You are correct !! It doesn’t matter what race it is !! The Registery is PUNISHMENT and needs ABOLISHED !! Everyone on the “Registery” has SERVERD THEIR TIME AND PAID THEIR DEBT TO SOCIETY !!!!!! And should be treated like EVERY OTHER CRIMIMAL !! The CONSTITUTION says once a Man/Woman Pays their Debt to Society, They get a FRESH START ! LIFETIME PUNISHMENT AFTER END OF SENTENCE IS ILLEGAL !! NO MATTER THE CRIME !!!!! And the “Registery” does NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING to prevent whoever is on that list from commiting another crime IF THEY WANTED TOO !!!!!!. The “Registery” DOES NOT PROTECT CHILDREN !! The “Registery” Does NOTHING BUT CONTINUE TO PUNISH SOMEONE FOR A CRIME THEY HAVE ALREADY PAID THEIR DEBT FOR !!!!!!. I challenge ANYONE to show/prove how “The Registery” PROTECTS anyone(child or Adult) !!!!!??????. Our “Constitution” is slowly getting Chipped away at !! Laws get “Ammended” almost Daily !!! We’re SO CLOSE to destroying this “Once Great Country” !!!!. Pretty soon, We won’t have a Constitution !!! . And here’s the real truth !! People in power (Government) really want COMPLETE CONTROL !! They may SAY they don’t, But you name ONE PERSON at the TOP of ANY “Organazion” that doesn’t DEMAND to be “Treated Special” !!!!!!. Perple really need to WAKE UP !! And SOON !! Before were ALL ON A REGISTERY of some kind !! Remember this, If you end up a FELON, Then you CANT DO ANYTHING TO CONTROL YOUR GOVERNMENT !! That’s why it’s called DISENFRANCHISED !!!!!!! And our Government is trying to DISENFRANCHISE EVERYONE !!! Keep voting to pass stupid “FEEL GOOD LAWS” that don’t really help anyone /anything except give someone MORE CONTROL AND MORE MONEY !! And we won’t EVER be able to live “FREE” ! FYI, Living FREE, Means Living WITHOUT GOVERNMENT CONTROL !! Not living Outside prison !!¡!!!!!. WAKE UP AMERICA !!!!!!!.

      • #73628 Reply
        Fred
        Fred
        Admin

        We appreciate your input, but please note the commenting in ALL CAPS guidelines below. Even though your entire comment is not in ALL CAPS a fair amount it is.

    • #73640 Reply
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      GeorgeS

      I find this interesting because from my knowledge from what I read that White males commit more sex crimes then Black males do. In the various prisons I been to I seen much more Whites that are sex offenders and while in a SO program I would say that the numbers of blacks was like around 30% while the rest was White. I think there are more Black SO’s who are in for drug dealing because many of them will trade drugs for sex with teenage girls, while looking down on the Whites who are in prison for a sex offence. So if you include them then the numbers will be higher for Blacks.

    • #73639 Reply
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      Native East

      I understand the study.
      Unfortunately you guys are turning a statistic based study into a race issue because of the word black.
      Unfortunately since it’s 100% proven facts no matter how emotional you all feel about it it won’t change.
      What this person is trying to convey is there are more white people in AMERICA 250 million
      There are 50 million black people.
      Knowing those numbers there should be 5X as many white people on the registry but there’s more black people on the registry than white people. I don’t know if it’s per capita or overall.
      This person is saying that the numbers don’t lie. We could get angry emotional and say ALL LIVES MATTER but that won’t change the numbers. Thank you

    • #73635 Reply
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      mut

      i suspect a percieved potential for recidivism is a contributing factor.

    • #73648 Reply
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      Gustavo

      Kudos for raising this topic! If it is a fact and relates to the registry then it should be addressed!
      Additionally, I strongly recommend to those commenting that that we should be thinking about “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
      Imagine how much stronger we could be if we have racial justice organizations join us in the fight against the registry! The current BLM movement is an excellent opportunity to start conversations with them about the registry’s impact on them and thru it inform them of the registry’s harmful inefficiencies. They are, in general, a movement that understands that current laws are not always right, and that in fact some of them are deadly wrong.
      It amazes me how many registrants cry about the criminal injustice they face, and cannot understand, or are misinformed about the plights of others.
      Successful social justice movements (and that is what we are when fighting the registry) have always been about more than one group. The civil rights movement has had the support of other organizations such as the church, ACLU, etc.
      In short, lets unite rather than make comments that sow seeds of disunity. We should encourage conversations on all issues that relate to the registry and look for common ground, despite our personal biases.
      And thank you all for taking the time to comment. I strongly encourage you also take the time to comment on other sites (newspapers is a prime example) where we can inform those that do not know about the facts as we do.
      It is hard to change minds. But remember that “a mind exposed to new ideas, never goes back its original dimensions”.
      Thank you NARSOL for trying to unite us in a common cause!

    • #73650 Reply
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      perplexed in NC

      Ok, so I read the study and I wonder still why NARSOL wants to use it as a platform to jump into the race discussion. Sandy, do you trust its statistics and cites to other studies? Like on page 5 where they cite the recidivism rate for RSOs at 14 to 27 percent?
      At the end of the day, this report is not seeking to abolish the registry, but rather points to the assertion that when it happens to Blacks (not all minorities or people of color) that it is patently unfair. I tend to believe that conviction rates of sex offenders has a lot more to do with socioeconomic status.
      Yes, Gustavo, discourse is a positive, because awareness is the first step. My point is just that the registry is unfair for all and any on it and their families who suffer along side of the RC. I would hope that we would all focus on just that simple topic and not get into a discussion of discrimination. Let’s promote equality for ALL.

    • #73654 Reply
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      Perry

      I agree with Emma. I’m 62 years old, Black, and an SVP. The Entire ‘Injustice System’, must be overhauled and The Registry Most Certainly needs to be Obliterated! It does Absolutely Nothing, but destroy people’s lives, and entire families of Registered Members within any given Family. Just the other day, I had to go downtown, and go to a State Police Registry Site. Here’s what happened: A Black Guy came out, gave me a piece of paper with the usual questions of Residency Changes and etc on it. He told me: “If there’s No Change to any of the things listed, just write No change, and I’ll accept that.” Now, usually, here in Pennsylvania, you’re given a paper saying you’d Registered and you have proof that you went on the day you were supposed to go do so. I got NONE of that, from this guy. So what I’m going to do Monday, is go to another State Police Barracks in another Township, and Re-Register yet again, because I Do Not…Trust The Injustice System. There’s absolutely Nothing I have to prove to The State Police, that I went and fulfilled my ‘So-Called-Duty’ on the dates I was given. I’m Not Taking Any Chances! I even texted My PO, and told her what I plan on doing, and I’ve got no response yet. So I’m going ahead and doing it again anyway. You see; The Registry MAY be affecting Blacks as a whole, much more than anyone else. Yet, WE ALL are a ‘New Minority’ anyway. So In My Opinion, for the Greatest Good of Us All, the Registry Must Be Erased From Existence. Or else, one day The Entire Country-with the exception of those in Power and Control-will be Registered! It’s already been said a couple of times with this Article, and I agree with those sentiments 1000%, in that Money-in the hands of The Politicians and all other Elected Officials-will Always Get Them Out Of The Exact Same Trouble-if They Commit A Sex Offense Crime-that WE all got! The ‘Criminal Injustice System’ isn’t Broken like the Man said earlier. I agree in that, It IS FIXED…For ‘Them’, but Against US!
      Done.

    • #73655 Reply
      Avatar
      Mike

      Thank you so much for those words.
      The original post was interesting enough, as were the comments, but to me it just swayed off topic a bit.
      I happened to quickly scroll, when I noticed your caps (lol) sorry, but you got my attention.
      You’e so right. My case is 25 years old, and my new female PO told me I can no longer do HVAC in residential homes. I new her 5 minutes. I’m 52.
      You’re words are so true. Thank you brother.
      And btw, she made over 100 grand last year.

    • #73659 Reply
      Sandy Rozek
      Sandy Rozek
      Admin

      George, the key word is DISPROPORTIONATE. 30% would be appropriate in a state where roughly 30% of the population were African-American, but in a state such as Connecticut where the total black population is 12% and the percentage of African-Americans on the registry is nearly 30%, that is disproportionate.

    • #73661 Reply
      Sandy Rozek
      Sandy Rozek
      Admin

      @Perplexed: That study had a long follow-up time, and with group studies, which they always are, the reoffense rate goes up for the group every time there is a new offense. The higher number is the general recidivism rate for the group for all arrests, not just sexual ones.
      I agree that socioeconomic status is a contributing factor to who gets convicted and who does not.

    • #73667 Reply
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      Tim in WI

      Black and White,
      Fact is minorities are over represented. And not just on the SORs but in the criminal complex as a whole. In America a person gets the defense based on what he\she can afford. The process itself is the same for all on the whole. America affords opportunity not outcome of trials. Fact is DNA exoneration proves two conclusions.
      1. State does not necessarily need (concrete) evidence to convict or felonize.
      2. State hasn’t actually had that “need” for a long time.

      With humans ” truth” is often a feeling. And in the case of minorities in trials scenarios more often than not, whites are over represented. Most people will not admit their personal prejudice (bi-got-try) publicly when confronted with it. As example, the protest of NFLer Collin Kaepernick the media&NFL& The Don, attempted to publicly shame him for his peaceful (if nothing else) exhibition. I am damn proud of Colin and I’m damn happy he’s from Wisconsin. I cannot say the same for Mr. Rehnquist. I can state with relative certainty Mr. Kaepernick’s perception results from facts first established by Mr. Rehnquist’s lack of fortitude and constitutional duty to strike for expressly prohibited language USE in law, found and established with sound reason under Art1 sec. 9 & 10.

      I’ve read a post above suggesting more whites have been swallowed by SOR regime and the sex crimes complex in general. There is early evidence of a more equitable distribution by race from Wisconsin published Administrative Reports on incarceration statistics supporting that notion. Indeed early on in the law making after Crime &Control act of 1968 the incarcerated white population increased. The infusion of whites into the prisons population appeared to be a more equitable distribution as applied to % of population. I’ve discussed WI here and no other state but overtime WI has seen that distribution creep back to where it was where minorities are over represented.

    • #73668 Reply
      Avatar
      Face the Music

      Unite or Perish!

    • #73669 Reply
      Avatar
      mut

      impoverished and at the mercy of lower profesional standards, just like me

    • #73670 Reply
      Avatar
      Tim in WI

      @Mike,
      Those exorbitant salaries are the kind of facts that come out in the FTR context.
      One registry agent’s career salary exceeded 750,000USD per her testimony She was initially hired in 1996 that was in 2011. That agent said there were 12 or 13 other tri- county agents as lateral peers+ bosses+IT staff.

    • #73671 Reply
      Avatar
      Mike

      @Tired of Being Mistreated: This post was meant in response to you.
      Thank you so much for those words.
      The original post was interesting enough, as were the comments, but to me it just swayed off topic a bit.
      I happened to quickly scroll, when I noticed your caps (lol) sorry, but you got my attention.
      You’re so right. My case is 25 years old, and my new female PO told me I can no longer do HVAC in residential homes. I new her 5 minutes. I’m 52.
      You’re words are so true. Thank you brother.
      And btw, she made over 100 grand last year.

    • #73673 Reply
      Avatar
      Micah

      Gustavo is thinking the same thing that I am…..the blm movement would be an ally against the registry…..absolutely.

      With regards to the matter of blacks being over represented on the registry, I think this largely rests on the fact that blacks are disproportionately impoverished. Many of them lack the resources to get a good attorney, AND are not prepared when someone points a finger at them. Like everyone else, they are forced to accept a plea deal rather than throw the dice and risk a mandatory minimum sentence. My son is black and got into a bar fight. I believe he rightfully defended himself, but rather than risk a double felony on his record plus a mandatory minimum sentence for an assault, we agreed that he would plead down to a double misdemeanor. I couldn’t risk him being a black male in front of an all white jury and get screwed over for the rest of his life.

      The entire criminal justice system is rigged to extract value from the have-nots, and needs to be scrapped and replaced…..starting with the registry. Blacks are way over represented in the have-not camp. Sandy, I support this article whole heartedly.

    • #73685 Reply
      Avatar
      Art

      This portion of the sentence is not true and there are studies that prove the opposite. “It appears that black males in America are not only at a greater risk for being harmed or killed when stopped by law enforcement”

      Not a good time for writing this article with everything that is going on in the country right now. This would only be flaming the fire.

    • #73689 Reply
      Avatar
      michael Kuehl

      The reason blacks are “disproportionately represented” on sex-offender registries is because they commit a vastly disproportionate number of sex crimes, especially violent/forcible rapes and gang rapes as opposed to acts of consensual sex between adults and pubescent teenagers under statutory age -just as they commit a vastly disproportionate numbers of non-sexual violent crimes, e.g., 53 percent of murders albeit they are only 13 percent of the population.

    • #73699 Reply
      Avatar
      mut

      no wonder slavery was and is so hard to eradicate

    • #73698 Reply
      Avatar
      mut

      Nevada AG’s Office says in their reply that involuntary servitude is not a form of custody remediable by habeas corpus.
      2:19-cv-01831-RFB-NJK

    • #73715 Reply
      Avatar
      Jeremy from Indiana

      The biggest problem I see with the analysis is that the whole country is painted with the same brush. I don’t doubt that there are racial disparities within local and state jurisprudence, but I detest the narrative that this is a nationwide systemic problem. Minnesota appears to have a systemic problem according to your analysis, but look at the total number registered overall in the state. The entire state has under 300 total registered citizens which is relatively small compared to other states of comparable population. As another commentator noted, the disparity there is likely more to do with socio-economic status than it is race. Now, one could argue the fact that blacks are generally on a lower socio-economic status per capita than whites which is a nationwide problem, but that’s not the narrative being presented here and it’s very rarely, if ever, talked about. The entire country is embattled right now with cries of systemic racism which I don’t believe exist in a nationwide capacity and I don’t think it’s rampant in state and local, but it does exist to some extent in some. I follow NARSOL for issues affecting people who are already registered. Please don’t buy into the narrative of the mainstream media. The only way this affects those of us already on it is if there is some sort of relief for some white person somewhere and that can be cited in case law for other cases. Other than that, I don’t see how this is a discussion appropriate for this organization.

    • #74386 Reply
      Avatar
      Tony From Long Island

      I’m not sure I agree with your basic premise here. It seems to suggest that whites are prosecuted less for sexual offenses – as if some are ignored while offenses by minorities are not. Or that white sex offenders are somehow escaping the registry – which is pretty much impossible and highly unlikely

      Perhaps they are represented more on the registries because because a higher percentage were convicted for a sexual offense and it has absolutely nothing to do with race.

      I’m actually surprised to read this on NARSOL’s website.

      I’m a liberal democrat and think there is nothing to see here.

      • #74410 Reply
        Sandy Rozek
        Sandy Rozek
        Admin

        Please understand, this is not MY premise; it is not NARSOL’s premise. It is a research study done by academics. We are simply reporting what the study found. We frequently report on the results of studies done on sexual offense issues. If the study was done within the guidelines required for valid studies, and this one has all of the validation of that being true, the results are what they are. And this one shows that a DISPROPORTIONATE percentage of African-Americas make up every state’s registry except one.

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