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home : blogs_old : ability and accountability September 15, 2014

Ability and Accountability
By Richard Haddad, Prescott Valley, AZ
rhaddad@westernnews.com
"[Children] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."
"Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it."

-- Two of my favorite quotes by Jim Henson

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sex offender awareness: Notices meant to inform, not frighten

 Richard Haddad

Megan's Law is designed to protect children through a community notification process when a sex offender is released from jail or prison, or when they are on probation.

There are at least 57 registered sex offenders living within town limits of Prescott and Prescott Valley, according to the state's official sex offender notification Web site.

But the site only lists those sex offenders who have registered, and then only those designated as level 2 and level 3 because these are the only levels that require public notification.

In June of 1996 Arizona adopted its version of "Megan's Law," which includes a community notification process when a sex offender is released from jail or prison, or when they are on probation.

When a sex offender moves into the county, or within 10 days of conviction, they must register with the sheriff of the county where they are going to live.

Once identified, an assessment is done to determine his or her risk factor, and the offender is assigned a level between 0 and 3.

What that level represents is the risk of reoffending. A zero, which is the lowest level, requires registration only, and no community notification. Level 1 is a low risk to the community. Level 2 is an intermediate risk to the community. Level 3 is a high risk.

Members of the sheriff's department who have certified sex offender assessment training assign levels based on information about the offender's case and his or her behavior while incarcerated.

Regardless of what level of risk is originally assigned, the local chief of police has the authority, by state law, to change the level up or down as circumstances or observed behavior may dictate.

The notification process may include neighborhood fliers distributed to homes or public schools and notices sent to the local media.

It's important to emphasize the purpose of fliers and media notices. Law enforcement agencies are not trying to instill fear in the community. They are just trying to inform -- because an informed community is a safer community.

For parents, the sex offender notifications are one more tool to help them protect their family. It's about awareness and education so that when our children are playing outside we know who our neighbors are.

Some people believe this registration law is unfair - that it creates a label that unjustly follows a convicted offender long after they have paid their debt to society. But considering what is at risk - our children - I believe it is a process that doesn't need to be fair. Especially considering that recidivism rates for sex offenders can range from 5 percent to more than 50 percent. Parents have the right to be concerned that offenders may repeat their crime.

And while the notification law is designed to help parents exercise basic safety precautions, it should not be abused.

One concern stated on the State's Sex Offender Info Center Web site is citizens trying to threaten, intimidate, or harass a sex offender in order to force them out of their neighborhood. This behavior is considered criminal activity. These individuals should have a chance to live a normal, productive life.

For more information log on to the Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Info Center Web site at www.azsexoffender.com.

Click here to perform a zip code search of your neighborhood




What is Megan's Law?

Megan Kanka was 7 years old when a twice-convicted sex offender, living across the street from her home, brutally raped and murdered her. The crime occurred in New Jersey. In 1994, Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed "Megan's Law" requiring convicted sex offenders to register with local police. The law further establishes a system of notification to the public. President Clinton signed the law in May 1996.

Source: About.com

Sex offender facts and characteristics

• Arizona has approximately 11,000 registered sex offenders.

• Sex offenders come from all walks of life and from all socio-economic groups. They can be male or female, rich or poor, employed or unemployed, religious or non-religious, educated or uneducated, and from any race.

• Although some sex offenders are strangers and stalkers, many know the victim as a family member, friend, or neighbor. They win a child's trust and then take advantage of that trust.

• Potential victims are likely to be children who are poor, neglected, loners or runaways.

• Many pedophiles seek out mothers of single parent families for the purpose of victimizing children.

• Sex offenders often like playgrounds and other places where children congregate.

• Most sex offenders groom their victims prior to any crime.

Source: Arizona Department of Public Safety

Related Links:
• Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Info Center Web site
• Zip code search of your neighborhood

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2008
Article comment by: R. Haddad

The reader comments below are correct. In reviewing my notes I was not accurate with my recidivism rates. While there are many studies with far higher figures than those provided in the blog comments, I pulled figures that did nor fairly represent offenders as a group and I apologize. I have made the correction in my blog entry above. Recidivism rates do vary greatly for convicted sex offenders. There are many studies that report a wide range of results based on a variety of factors such as gender, age, relationship to victims and whether the offender has received treatment. It is true that recidivism rates drop for those offenders who receive treatment.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Article comment by: equaljustice2

The day when the media can just say what ever it wants to without regard for truth is drawing to an end. What happened to journalistic integrity? I guess it went the way of so much of our other integrity. The highest recidivism rate I have found in research for former sex offenders is 13%. That is a FAR CRY from your stated 80%. How can the public POSSIBLY not be frightened by public notification and the registry, especially when they are constantly being fed LIES by our media and politicians.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Article comment by: CoolRich

"Some people believe this registration law is unfair - that it creates a label that unjustly follows a convicted offender long after they have paid their debt to society. But considering what is at risk - our children - I believe it is a process that doesn't need to be fair. Especially considering that as many as 80 percent of sex offenders are likely to repeat their crime." I am really curious where this statistic came from. It is correct for DUI and property crimes, but sex offenders are at a 5.3% rate according to the US DOJ. The only place I have seen higher rates are in state studies that include re-arrest for anything. They are not conviction rates. Please explain.

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Article comment by: The Fallen One

What an ironic headline! You state registries are "meant to inform, not frighten," but then you offer up this myth: "But considering what is at risk - our children - I believe it is a process that doesn't need to be fair. Especially considering that as many as 80 percent of sex offenders are likely to repeat their crime." In my years of research, I have never seen an 80% recidivism rate for sex offenders. The US Dept of Justice found rearrest rates for sex offenders was 5% after 3 years, and a Canadian study by Harris and Hanson found that 3 out of 4 offenders did not re-offend after 15 years. An arizona study found similarly low recidivism rates. (www.oncefallen.com/Recidivism101.html). In the future, I implore you to research the subject matter more carefully, because such myths as the "high recidivism rate" myth contradicts what you were trying to achieve. Thank you.

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2008
Article comment by: Rod

Let me qoute you. You said, "I believe it is a process that doesn't need to be fair. Especially considering that as many as 80 percent of sex offenders are likely to repeat their crime." Arizona, Department of Corrections, 2006 Results – 3.2% returned for a new felony sex offense, 1.4% returned for a new felony case of child molestation. Now that is a very LONG way from 80% Almost every study done gives single digit recidivist rates for a first time offender. New York, (2.1%) California, (Less than 4%) U.S. Dept of Justice, (3.5%) Michigan, Department of corrections, 2000 Results: 2.46% for sex offense Ohio, Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 2001-10 year study. New sex crime after 10 years 8%. There used to be truth in journalism. Today, It's about "ratings." Myths, lies and hyped up hysteria is the rule of the day. Politicians have been known to be liars ever since, well, forever. Don't believe me, Just Google "politicians are liars" and see what comes up. They will tell you whatever you want to hear just to get elected. Today we are wasting hundreds of Billions of tax dollars for laws that do more harm than good. See http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/09/06/usdom16819.htm

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2008
Article comment by: JB

"Especially considering that as many as 80 percent of sex offenders are likely to repeat their crime." Can you give a reference for this coment because I can find no studies that indicate the recidivism rate is high for sex offenders? In fact all the research indicates just the opposite. It is very low. The people from whom we need to protect are not already identified former offenders. They are our family and friends.

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2008
Article comment by: ZMan!

Looks like you are misinformed about recidivism, check here for the REAL facts:
http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/2007/11/state-specific-recidivism-rates.html
http://sexoffenderissues.pbwiki.com/#Recidivism
By the way, where did you find this 80% recidivism rate lie?




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