At a time when national polls indicate that Americans fear sex offenders more than terrorists,  legislators will have to show they have the intelligence and courage to create a society that is safe yet still protects the human rights of everyone. There is no simple cure to the very complex problem of sexual violence. The study also found that recidivism rates varied markedly depending on the kind of sex crime committed. In addition, most of those who make public assertions about the recidivism rates of sex offenders take a "one-size-fits-all" approach; they do not acknowledge the marked variation in recidivism rates among offenders who have committed different kinds of sex offenses, nor the influence of other factors on recidivism.
For those who do pose a threat to public safety, they should be able to reside in communities where they can receive the supervision and treatment they need, rather than be forced to move to isolated rural areas or become homeless. But numerous, rigorous studies analyzing objectively verifiable data-primarily arrest and conviction records-indicate sex offender recidivism rates are far below what legislators cite and what the public believes. This would include notification to the individual s victimized by the offender. We don't really check in on them, unless they failed to register and we have to try to find them. Indeed, the limited research to date suggests the contrary: We don't follow the guys around on the registry. Rethinking Sex Offender Laws Increasingly severe registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws have encountered little public opposition. Law enforcement and other local officials must recognize their responsibility and authority to keep all community members safe, including people who have been convicted of sex offenses. As the Minnesota community notification law states, "The extent of the information disclosed and the community to whom disclosure is made must be related to the level of danger posed by the offender, to the offender's pattern of offending behavior, and to the need of community members for information to enhance their individual and collective safety. It will, however, cause great harm to those who, while they are young, must endure the stigma of being identified as and labeled a sex offender, and who as adults will continue to bear that stigma, sometimes for the rest of their lives. It has made me rethink the value of broad-based community notification laws, which operate on the assumption that most sex offenders are high-risk dangers to the community they are released into. The risk should be assessed on a case-by-case basis for each convicted sex offender, using tools that have predictive validity and take into consideration a variety of factors found by research to be associated with recidivism, including the nature of the crime, prior offending history, the age of the offender at the time of the crime, treatment or therapy history, and the length of time an individual has remained offense-free. I was taken off the registry at age Protecting the community and limiting unnecessary harm to former offenders are not mutually incompatible goals. Their families suffer as well. My life is in ruins, not because I had sex as a teenager, and not because I was convicted, but because of how my neighbors have reacted to the information on the internet. Indeed, people children know and trust are responsible for over 90 percent of sex crimes against them. According to a report by the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, cases of child sexual abuse substantiated by child protection agencies fell 40 percent between and ; the report's authors believe that some of this drop reflects a decline in the occurrence of sexual abuse, in addition to other factors such as stricter reporting practices. Human Rights Watch spoke to a police officer who oversees the sex offender registry for his city. Of the 36 percent of the sample offenders who had been out of confinement for more than five but fewer than 10 years, only 2. You aren't that old to be a sex offender. This chapter describes who is required to register, for what, and for how long. For example, the proliferation of people required to register even though their crimes were not serious makes it harder for law enforcement to determine which sex offenders warrant careful monitoring. Alone in the World Sexual violence and abuse against children are, unfortunately, a worldwide problem. I committed a crime, and I accept that consequence. I have been called a baby rapist by my neighbors; feces have been left on my driveway; a stone with a note wrapped around it telling me to "watch my back" was thrown through my window, almost hitting a guest. But children are also subjected to sex offender laws for conduct that, while frowned upon, does not suggest a danger to the community, including consensual sex, "playing doctor," and exposing themselves.
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