Most folks do not realize that the overwhelming majority of those labeled as S Os are not sex offenders at all. They never molested anyone. Yet many are quick to play fast and loose with the “facts”.
This article was sent to me by my colleagues at NARSOL – https://narsol.org/
Excerpts from the Article:
Statistics about the likelihood of sex offenders to re-offend took center stage during U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments Feb. 27 ( Packingham v. North Carolina , U.S., No. 15-1194, argued 2/27/17 ). The case concerned a North Carolina law prohibiting registered sex offenders from visiting social media and other websites like Facebook, YouTube and NYTimes.com. But much of the debate focused on a hotly contested statistic highlighted in two Supreme Court opinions, Carissa Hessick—a law professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., whose research focuses on criminal sentencing, criminal law and child pornography—told Bloomberg BNA.
Multiple studies from legal and psychology scholars undermined the “conventional wisdom” that sex offender re-offense rates are high, Hessick said Feb. 27. In fact, many studies have found sex offender re-offense rates are lower than those of offenders who commit non-sexual crimes, she said.
But a Justice Department report cited by North Carolina’s brief suggests those studies may fail to take into account under-reporting by victims of sex crimes and other factors, and that the actual re-offense rate is higher. But it has little reliable data to support that suggestion.
North Carolina Senior Deputy Attorney General Robert C. Montgomery repeatedly stated at oral argument that sex offenders have higher rates of recidivism than other offenders. Montgomery specifically referenced statistics cited in the 2003 Supreme Court case Smith v. Doe, which upheld the constitutionality of sex offender registries. The statistic mentioned in Smith v. Doe—that 80 percent of convicted sex offenders will offend again—is off by an average of 65 percent, depending on offenders’ risk levels, according to research from Arizona State University law professor Ira Ellman.
That makes the First Amendment claim much more powerful than it might appear, because the people affected by the law pose “no clear and present danger,” Ellman said. “They’re no more likely to offend than most of us.”accounts on social media websites like Facebook, YouTube or newspaper websites that allow minors to become members or create
Ellman told Bloomberg BNA that his research has found re-offense figures are closer to 5 percent for low-risk offenders, 10 percent for medium-risk offenders, and 30 percent for high-risk offenders. Risk factors vary according to different evaluations, but seek to analyze propensity for re-offense based on behavior and psychology, rather than just on the offense itself.
For example, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers cited in its amicus brief to a study on sex offender re-offense after prison, which found that about 5.3 percent of convicted sex offenders committed another sex offense. ATSA is an organization of people who work with sex offenders, including parole officers, psychologists, victims’ advocates and academics.