Sunday, September 20, 2009
The other day Larry King was interviewing Dr. Phil and several other people about the Garrido case. And Dr Phil Said "The question on everybody's mind is Philip Garrido involved in some of the other disappearances that we've been talking about tonight. Dan Simon, you've been in Antioch. You've been all over this. Experts that follow these things with pedophiles and sexual offenders tell us that the average sexual offender can have anywhere 100 to 400 victims throughout their lifetime. So the fact that Philip Garrido has been tied to one that we know of and a violent rape before leaves an awful lot of concern that there are other victims out there. What does law enforcement think about this?" Dan Simon was a guest from law enforcement also on the show. Now I have heard others makes similar claims. That one reason we have to be so tough on Sex Offenders is they have so many victims. I haven't come across any studies that have supported this claim. Does anyone reading this know of a study that does support this claim of a high number of victims?
Let's take a minute and look at the numbers. There are over 650,000 registered former offenders. I've heard numbers putting the registry numbers at over 700,000. But for now lets just use the 650,000, figure, if each person on the registry each had 100 victims that would mean there are 65,000,000 victims of sexual abuse. And at 400 each that numbers come out to 260,000,000. Say the words two hundred and sixty MILLION potentional victims of sexual abuse! As of July 2006 the population of the United States is 304,059,724. If the numbers being quoted by the media and politicians are true then almost every person in the United States has been molested by someone already on the registry. And what about the new cases being reported? Over 86% of cases reported are new offenders, people not already on the sex offender registry. Lets look at another fact that is often touted out when you hear these 'experts' talking. Sexual abuse is very under reported. If so how do the numbers add up? On the ARC radio show, with Ron Book as the guest, one caller countered those very myths by saying "If at the rate the media is claiming, children are being victimized. We would be knee high deep in this country, in the bodies of dead & abused children."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
From The Times
A sad lesson in ‘know thy neighbor’
Megan’s Law did not protect Jaycee Dugard. It helped create ghettos of abuse – and would do Link here
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
State law set to change city's sex offender ordinancehttp://www.keepmecurrent.com/american_journal/news/article_e2946838-9e46-11de-8b21-001cc4c002e0.html
Please feel free to leave comments
Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2009 3:20 pm | Updated: 5:16 pm, Thu Sep 10, 2009.
Westbrook police Detective Dan Violette says there's a reason the number of sex offenders living and working in the city hasn't changed much in the past two years.
Since the City Council adopted one of the strictest ordinances in the state prohibiting registered sex offenders from living or working in most of the city, Violette has had to force people out of their new apartments and make them quit their jobs.
According to the detective, who said he spends about 25 percent of his work week keeping track of sex offenders in the city, about 37 registered sex offenders live in Westbrook and an additional 16 work there.
"The number hasn't fluctuated very much," Violette said.
But that could change when a new state law goes into effect Saturday, nullifying Westbrook's ordinance.
The City Council will vote Monday on whether to adopt the state's new maximum allowable restrictions on where sex offenders can live. If passed, the 2,500-foot buffer zones around all places children frequent will be replaced with 750-foot restricted areas just around schools. And that only covers residency. The state law says that towns and cities cannot restrict where sex offenders can work.
In a gesture showing their disapproval of the state law, Gorham town councilors last week refused to change the town's restrictive ordinance in order to comply. However, it's still in question what the town's police department will be able to enforce once the law goes into effect.
Though Violette said he'll still spend the same amount of time monitoring sex offenders in the city and notifying neighbors and employers of their whereabouts, the state law takes away some of his authority over sex offenders and a safeguard for Westbrook children.
"It's given me more tools to help make sure sex offenders were in compliance," he said about the old law.
DRAWN TO WESTBROOK
There are no demographics that encompass all sex offenders, Violette said, but because a lot of employers don't want to hire registered sex offenders, many, regardless of their backgrounds and skills, don't have steady sources of income.
"You're a convicted felon. That makes you ineligible to work in a lot of places," Violette said.
Because of that, he believes the amount of low-income housing in Westbrook draws more sex offenders. Though Portland is probably the most attractive city in the area for jobless sex offenders because of its shelters and support services, he said, "we're ripe for the picking as far as increasing our numbers."
However, some say that keeping people out of jobs and homes because of their sex offender status is unconstitutional.
Jane Cantral, who runs Maine Citizens for Change - a local affiliate of the national group Reform Sex Offender Laws - said she and her boyfriend Calvin Shelton, a registered sex offender, didn't have an easy time finding a home in this area of the state.
"We're trying to buy a house and we're looking at maps," said Cantral, a Bridgton resident who was herself the victim of a sex offender.
"It sounds good as a knee-jerk reaction, but if you really thought about it, how much sense does it make?" Cantral said.
She pointed to the fact that students are not in school at night, when most sex offenders are in their homes. She also noted that kids are better looked after in schools and day cares than they are the rest of the day.
"I don't think residency restrictions are needed at all," she said.
Cantral hopes that more efforts will be made on educating parents and children and treating sex offenders rather than on making local or state laws that she believes are ineffective.
IS LESS MORE?
But success is measured in different ways when it comes to sex offender laws.
Violette said he scans the state's sex offender registry about once a week to see if there are any new registered sex offenders living or working in Westbrook. During the past two years, he said, he's had to ask about a dozen people to leave their jobs, usually because of their proximity to day cares. Though he's gotten mixed reactions from employers - some thank Violette for making them aware of the charges, others would rather to keep the workers regardless of them - the sex offenders themselves tend to comply quickly.
"Almost every time, they quit right way," he said.
Other than the case of one registered sex offender Violette had to repeatedly chase out of a Spring Street apartment, he said the same willingness to obey the ordinance was true of sex offenders trying to move to the city. He said he's had to turn down about five or six sex offenders who tried to move into restricted areas of the city from out of town and another half-dozen who wanted to move within Westbrook.
Overall, Violette estimated that about 20 additional sex offenders would be living or working in the city today if it weren't for the ordinance.
"It was working," he said.
PEACE OF MIND
One woman who was an outspoken advocate of the Westbrook ordinance when it was adopted said she plans to speak up again at the council meeting Monday.
Jen Wescott, who has two family members that were sex crime victims, said even with the ordinance in place, as a mother and a day care owner, she's on constant alert, keeping an eye on who's around. The city's law offered extra protection.
"It gives you a little more sense of security," Wescott said.
But creating a false sense of security is one of the arguments opponents have against residency restrictions.
"They have a tendency to drive offenders underground," Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, who sponsored the bill, said in June, when the law was passed. "Then you don't know where they are, which is a more dangerous situation."
Those who support less-stringent residency resrictions say the vast majority of sex crimes are committed by people known to the victims - which was the case with Wescott's family members and with Cantral, as well.
While Cantral argues that over-reaching restrictions violate the rights of former criminals who have paid their debts to society, Wescott and Violette both believe that additional protection against sex offenders can only help to keep kids safer.
"Any buffer you put between a sex offender and our vulnerable children, I think that's a good thing," Violette said.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The Jaycee Dugard case illustrates how America's sex offender registries hurt efforts to stop repeat sex crimes
Americans have been doing some soul-searching about our approach to monitoring convicted sex offenders since the recent discovery of Jaycee Lee Dugard. Dugard was kidnapped in California at age 11 and held captive for 18 years in Phillip Garrido's garden. He managed to hide his secret prisoner from the police even though he was a convicted rapist and his name appeared on the public sex offender registry.
In the past, news of a horrific crime committed by a convicted sex offender inevitably led to widespread calls for increasing the scope of sex offender registration and community notification laws. Over the past 15 years, the US has expanded its registration and notification schemes to include an estimated 674,000 convicted sex offenders. Some remain on the public list for the rest of their lives, regardless of the seriousness of their offence, the current threat they might pose or their progress toward rehabilitation . The effectiveness of such laws has rarely been questioned, and they enjoy widespread public support.
But this time around, there has been a different type of discussion. Rather than just calling for tougher sex offender monitoring laws, Americans are openly wondering if a new approach is needed to deal with convicted sex offenders who have re-entered the community.
Although Garrido's case is extraordinary, it illustrates the flaws in America's sex offender registration and community notification schemes. Experts in sexual violence say that placing all convicted sex offenders on a registry for life may do more harm than good. The public nature of the registry makes it nearly impossible for convicted sex offenders to re-enter the community with the kind of support system they need to reduce their likelihood of committing another offence. Low-level offenders who pose little risk to the community are monitored in the same way as high-risk offenders, diluting police resources to concentrate on those, such as Garrido, who pose a high risk of committing another offence.
Furthermore, focusing so much public attention and resources on convicted sex offenders ignores the reality of sexual violence in the United States. It is estimated that 87% of new sex crimes every year are committed by individuals without a prior sex crime conviction. And very few sex crimes move through the system – less than one-third of all reported rapes result in an arrest.
So pouring scarce resources into monitoring all convicted offenders means there is less money for programmes to prevent sexual violence and counsel victims and for the rape investigation units, rape evidence testing and other tools that could bring justice in these cases.
Because of such concerns, Human Rights Watch called in a 2007 report for a major revamping of America's sex offender laws. Registration should be limited to former offenders who have been individually assessed as dangerous, and only for as long as they pose a significant risk. Community notification should be restricted to those who genuinely can benefit from knowledge about dangerous former offenders in their midst.
Sex offender registration and community notification laws didn't cause Garrido's crimes, but they didn't help the police stop them, either. While Americans are starting to question the value of our extensive sex offender monitoring system, it remains to be seen whether these doubts will lead to real reform.
Once sex offender laws are in place, it is hard for politicians to repeal them, because they don't want to appear weak on the issue of sex offenders. If Britain wants to do more to prevent sexual violence, it should keep its sex offender registry narrowly focused, and use the savings in time, energy and resources to implement sexual violence prevention policies that will actually keep the public safe.