Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Crow's Nest

A new report from Human Rights Watch on laws, registries and restrictions for sex offenders:
Laws aimed at people convicted of sex offenses may not protect children from sex crimes but do lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch urges the reform of state and federal registration and community notification laws, and the elimination of residency restrictions, because they violate basic rights of former offenders. The 146-page report, “No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the United States,” is the first comprehensive study of US sex offender policies, their public safety impact, and the effect they have on former offenders and their families. During two years of investigation for this report, Human Rights Watch researchers conducted over 200 interviews with victims of sexual violence and their relatives, former offenders, law enforcement and government officials, treatment providers, researchers, and child safety advocates.
Here, at my newsletter, read more on that: (Source:
Just as Ohio has toughened its sex offender registration system, evidence is building that registration causes more problems than it solves.

There is no empirical evidence that proves sex offender registries do what they're supposed to do -- keep children safe. The U.S. Justice Department is now commissioning and funding studies looking at the effectiveness of registries, Singleton says. But the evidence so far is troubling, according to Jill S. Levenson, southern regional coordinator for the Center for Offender Rehabilitation and Education and a board member of the Ohio Chapter of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. "There is a growing body of research that documents what we call collateral consequences of registration and notification; in other words, the kind of unintended consequences of these laws that disrupt stability and interfere with the ability of these offenders to reintegrate and create law-abiding constructive lives for themselves," Levenson says. "Criminals who are placed back in the community need jobs, and they need a place to live. People aren't very sympathetic to that. But the reality is that we know that the factors that are ... associated with a good community adjustment and less recidivism in the future -- desistance from crime -- are stability in housing, social support and employment. These laws contradict what the research tells us about the environmental conditions that lead to the desistance of crime.

Also missing from the law is a mandate to educate the public -- practical information to help people avoid and survive any kind of attack or information to help eliminate myths and misconceptions about sex offenders.

"Sex offenses and sex offenders fall into a really broad range," Levenson says. "Everybody who is convicted of drunk driving is not an alcoholic. Everyone who is convicted of a sex offense is not a sexual predator."

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