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August 13, 2013

New Nebraska study suggests sex offender registry changes pushed by feds may do more harm than good

Ne-sex-offender-recidivism-report2-p1-smallAs reported in this notable local piece, headlined "UNO report: Nebraska sex offender law 'founded more on public emotion than good science'," an important new study suggests that state sex offender registry laws have perhaps been made less effective as a result of reforms prodded by new federal sex offender laws. Here are highlights from the report on the report:

A newly released report questions whether public safety has improved since Nebraska adopted a state law that requires all convicted sex offenders to be listed on a public website.

The law, known as the Adam Walsh Act, was passed in 2009, but has been criticized as being too harsh on former offenders who committed minor crimes, are low risks to reoffend and have now become productive, law-abiding citizens....

On Monday, a report done by the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Consortium for Crime and Justice Research concluded that the Adam Walsh Act “was founded more on public emotion than good science, which is its fundamental shortcoming.”

The 58-page document stated that Nebraska’s previous system of sex-offender registration, which required only that the highest risk offenders be listed publicly, “did not seem to be broken.” The report, though, stated that it could not be discerned if the previous, or new, registration system was superior in deterring repeat sex offenses.

The adoption of the Adam Walsh Act in Nebraska was controversial and spawned a lawsuit by a group of convicted sex offenders, who said it violated their constitutional rights. It was also praised for removing the subjective decision of whether an offender was at low or high risk to reoffend....

Prior to 2009, only the names and photographs of sex offenders who had committed the most serious offenses and were deemed by the patrol as most likely to reoffend were publicized on the patrol’s website. Under the old system, those who committed minor offenses and were considered a low risk were required to register with law enforcement agencies, but their information wasn’t made public.

Nebraska’s Adam Walsh Act, Legislative Bill 285, required that all sex offenders — low risk and high risk — have their photos and addresses posted on the state website, and to report to local law enforcement officials. The photos are to stay for 15 years for misdemeanor offenses, but as long as 25 years to life for more serious offenses.

The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee two years ago discussed whether to exclude low-risk offenders from the public website, but instead decided to seek more information, via the UNO report, which cost $60,000....

State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the UNO report provides better data for lawmakers on which to judge the effectiveness of sex offender registries. He said his committee may look at revamping the registration requirements of lower-risk offenders, but that overall, the report showed him that it’s not necessary to repeal the entire Adam Walsh Act. “I don’t see that changing registration laws and going back to tiering them is the answer,” Ashford said.

The senator added that the report’s data will aid his effort to reform state criminal sentences to ease the state’s chronic prison overcrowding. Treating sex offenders outside of prison must be considered, Ashford said, because among state prison inmates, sex offenders make up one of the largest categories....

Among the UNO report’s other findings:

» Recidivism rates for sex offenders were low — more than 97 percent do not reoffend — but were lower following the passage of the Adam Walsh Act. For instance, the recidivism rate for Level 2 (medium-risk) offenders was 0.5 percent after passage of the act and 2.5 percent before....

» Registries that show the addresses of offenders could provide a false sense of security because most sex offenders do not commit crimes in their own neighborhoods. Only 7 percent of such crimes were committed within a mile of an offender’s residence.

The full report, titled simply "Nebraska Sex Offender Registry Study," is available at this link.

August 13, 2013 at 08:28 AM | Permalink

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Comments

The Adam Walsh Act was inacted after a pedophile abused and murdered a child. The purpose behind this Act is in no way representative of alot of those currently incarcerated under the broad umbrella term of "sex offense". Time to make changes!

Posted by: kat | Aug 13, 2013 9:41:51 AM

In my case, I guarantee all the Registration laws do far more harm than good. By a long shot. Not even close.

I hope that is the case for nearly all families that are Registered. But I really do wonder and would like to know.

But I think that most of the people who support the Registries don't care much if they work or not. They feel better just harassing people.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Aug 13, 2013 5:38:17 PM

Considering that an innocent person was killed because her husband was on the hit list, and when you also consider that 90% of sexual abuse of children is by someone not on that list, and is either in the family or a close trusted family acquaintance, there are a lot of innocent people including children of registrants that are being harmed by these terrible laws. Recidivism of registrants has been shown to be below 5% even in the DOJ's study, and each study that comes out pushes that number even lower. Make this list for police only and take the people who are not a safety risk off after supervised release or parole.

Posted by: Jill | Aug 13, 2013 6:26:05 PM

NSS! = No S--t Sherlock!

I've said it before and I'll say it again and again. The current POS Adam Walsh Act is just that. It is full employment for LE to harrass hundreds of thousands of mostly harmless people.

It is not tailored to the thousand or so that are a true threat. Only a judge and a court of law should make that determination, not a bunch of vote for me legislators.

The "recidivism" rate for SOs is less than 5% (because the law traps too many mostly harmless people, diluting the class) vs. the greater than 50% for most other crimes.

Posted by: albeed | Aug 13, 2013 8:24:43 PM

I've never understood why Reve Walsh wasn't charged with neglect. Who in their right mind drops off a 6 y/o boy at the mall and leave to do errands?
The blood of the innocent registrants who were murdered because of the Adam Walsh Act is on the hands of John and Reve Walsh.

Posted by: athought | Aug 13, 2013 11:16:07 PM

Revé was 16 when she and John met. John was an adult. He is huge fear-mongering hypocrite who is over-compensating. I am in no way personally impacted by the sex offender laws, I just hate what John Walsh has helped do to this country.

Posted by: Just Say No To Fear | Aug 14, 2013 1:25:14 AM

I am a registered sex offender whose courts final determination is "adjudication withheld". I was not convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. I have the right to vote and own or posses a firearm.

There are numerous Human Rights violations, Federal Civil Rights Statute violations, US Bill of Rights Amendment violations and US Constitutional Amendment violations that are violated in the Sex Offender Registration Notification Act that go unchallenged.

Additionally, I am embarrassed by our legislators ignorance, misguided judiciary application of the law and law enforcement's eagerness and willingness to break our laws.

Our justice system enforces draconian laws that selectively target with offensive legislative boldness, cruel actions, barriers and punishments that forever ban an individual from society forcing the offender and family to live in seclusion and isolation until their end of life.

Posted by: ltm | Aug 14, 2013 6:40:03 AM

@albeed

I agree with you for the most part. Most studies still put subsets around the 20% for recidivism and not the 50% mark that you state. 50% recidivism is the about where sex offenders end up with a general recidivism and not a new sex offense. But if we would take those that dilute the registry off, and leave the true threats on there, we still wouldn't know who 90% of them are. Jerry Sandusky wasn't on a registry and look at what he did. The other high profile cases in the media in the past 12 months show repeat or career criminals who most likely have a mental illness like the people who have gone on shooting sprees. Another registrant was just killed in Kansas this week.

Posted by: Jill | Aug 14, 2013 7:02:35 PM

Kansas?
NATIONAL NEWS
No death penalty decision yet in Ohio bodies case
August 6
BY THOMAS J. SHEERAN
Associated Press

CLEVELAND — A decision on seeking the death penalty for a man charged with killing three women and stuffing their bodies in trash bags will be delayed, giving the defense time to make a counter argument, the prosecutor said Tuesday...That will allow time for Madison's attorneys to offer any evidence that might argue against a possible death sentence...

Madison, a convicted sex offender, was charged with aggravated murder and kidnapping after three bodies were found in trash bags in a run-down East Cleveland neighborhood. The search was prompted by a call to police about a foul smell coming from a garage.

The defense wants to review the scene as part of its trial preparation, Grant said

Madison was arrested in the deaths of Shirellda H. Terry, 18; Angela H. Deskins, 38; and Shetisha D. Sheeley, 28. The medical examiner said Terry and Deskins were strangled and Sheeley died of "homicidal violence by unspecified means."

The indictment said Madison raped Terry between July 10 and July 19. She was last seen July 10 leaving a Cleveland elementary school where she had a summer job.

Madison was classified as a sex offender in 2002, when he was sentenced to four years in prison for attempted rape, according to court records."

--kansascity.com

Posted by: Adamakis | Aug 14, 2013 9:05:38 PM

Adamakis:

Recently, the NCMEC listed 19,866 registered SO's living in Ohio. Obviously, LE couldn't investigate Madison because they had to also follow the other 19,865 SOs.

They had to possibly monitor where they lived, where they worked, who lived with them, what sites they visited on the internet, what cars they drove and whether they had current finger/palm prints.

Let's see, Madison was listed as an SO for conviction for ATTEMPTED RAPE. How many others were listed as SO's with non-contact or non-violent (no force, threats, coercion, incapacitation or deception) crimes.

How's that SO law working out for you. Go back to Afghanistan and look for justice by selecting only victims with clean, soft hands.

Posted by: albeed | Aug 15, 2013 8:13:23 AM

albeed (Aug 15, 2013 8:13:23 AM):

I think Adamakis wanted to point out to all of us that the Sex Offender Registries do not prevent crimes. Uh, we already knew that.

One thing we know for certain about this Madison case is that the Sex Offender Registries were a primary contributor to the crimes being committed. Good job, Registries! I hope the harassment is worth it.

I appreciate that people like John Walsh could actually have good intentions in addition to their drive to earn themselves more money. That's fine. But the second they start impacting my family's lives with their stupidity, there are going to be ongoing problems. It is not acceptable to use people like this Madison guy as a pathetic, idiotic excuse to harass my family.

All families who are listed on the nanny, big government hit lists need to resolve to act. Don't just complain about it. Act.

I am legally crippling the criminal regimes that run the Registries. I am making it more difficult for them to prevent people like Madison from committing crimes, catch them when they do, and put them in jail after they catch them. Those criminal regimes want to spend time, effort, and money to harass my family. So I am going to make that cost a lot and keep away as many resources from them as possible. My goal is an average of 58 minutes to respond to 911 calls.

I am legally disrupting the lives of people who support the Registries. I own the places they work. I own the places they live. They are going to leave my family alone or they are going to get the same back. It's a war they've already lost. They are just adding to their casualties every day.

It's a shame the U.S. has devolved into a civil war.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Aug 15, 2013 10:02:14 AM

FRT:

I may have misread Adamakis intent:

By all means I support you doing what YOU HAVE TO DO for you and your family. I apologize for my country being so stupid that they don't care about Human Rights and throwing the baby out with the bath water. Maybe SC is right and it is the feminization of law? I don't know.

I will say that John Walsh would probably be on the list nowadays as he was 20 years old when he started dating his original wife Reve when she was 16 years old. I find it interesting that those who scream the loudest seem to be people who are trying to justify their borderline morals (Clinton, Foley, Lunsford, etc.) by shouting Sex Offender! Even Patti Wetterling thinks current SO laws s__k. That the Supreme Court ruled these laws non-punitive just boggles reality and my mind. They demonstrated that they can lie with a straight face and hence deserve the disrespect that they have earned.

Posted by: albeed | Aug 15, 2013 11:38:29 AM

how true albeed. IF we were to look at our history. You would find that most of those who were there and found and died to found this country were under today's law PERVERTS!, RAPISTS! and MOLESTERS!

Hell this country was founded by the perverts! for the perverts!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 15, 2013 11:57:15 PM

The first page of this study to be read is the reference page. Hansen/Levenson and a few others are Government Grant whores who release studies in proportion to what the "System" wants to spend on the problem. Which is zero. The humorous thing about these studies as budgets get tighter? It will be amazing how "harmless" sex offenders will appear. I wouldnt hang my hat or my children's well being on this study..

Posted by: Valerie Parkhurst | Nov 18, 2013 9:55:34 AM

the bottom line is the government don't care about the harm it does, it just wants the registry for future use against all people this is just the way to set it up. after it is in full motion they can do what they want with it. for everyone.

Posted by: george | Nov 21, 2013 12:15:54 AM

they also do not put themselves on the registry if your important enough or in the right circles of politics you will never be put on the list. its all a good if it is not you. but the minute it is used against you it is not alright. important people don't get put on registry only common folks do.

Posted by: george | Nov 21, 2013 12:20:21 AM

I am also on the list. I was convicted in a sting and charged and plead to a sting operation involving yahoo adult chat. In my situation, there was never any talk in the chatroom of exchanging address, phone number, meeting place and yet I was convicted under this umbrella law that we have. If someone murders someone and does their time, why is there no public list of humiliation for these people? These laws are so far fetched that it does not put the concern on the people that need the concern. It has ruined my life with divorce, harassment jobs, my kids being harassed and so forth. Its time this state pulls the head out and does something about this. I once made 80k a year, now the jobs I am able to hold of which are not usually long I am lucky to make 25k due to this senseless list of bs. This catch all approach to a problem that is in the big picture a very small percentage of people who do the horrible things is just simply wrong. time for change!

Posted by: timeforchange | Feb 17, 2014 5:10:41 PM

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