Archive for February 22, 2010

Ohio SORNA Sex Offender Registration Summary

February 22, 2010 Comments off

From the Vera Institute Report for the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (2008):
The Pursuit of Safety: Sex Offender Policy in the U.S. All states are summarized in this report. We are posting only Ohio’s guidelines here.

SORNA Federal Guidelines

OHIO Guidelines

US DOJ Reports on Sex Offenders

February 22, 2010 Comments off

In 2008, the Vera Institute of Justice produced two survey reports for the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The first, The Pursuit of Safety: Sex Offender Policy in the U.S. , reviewed federal and state laws concerning sex offenders and the impact of these laws. The second, Treatment and Reentry Practices for Sex Offenders: An Overview of States, analyzed programs for sex offenders in 37 states. Together, the reports provide a look at national trends in responses to sex offenders. This summary highlights their findings.

This summary listed three key findings:

* Policies vary widely in their ability to protect the public, and particularly children, from sexual victimization. Most focus on preventing repeat offenses by strangers, a relatively rare event compared with sex offenses by people known to the victim and the victim’s family.

* Some sex offender policies can have an unintended negative impact on public safety. By making it harder for offenders to find shelter, employment, and social supports, these policies drive some offenders out of contact with authorities.

* More research is needed on how to prevent sex offenses and maximize public safety through more effective policies.

The reports are available at

* – (141 pages)


These reports include a very good summary of the history and background of sex offender laws, and include a state-by-state summary of sex offender laws and registration requirements.


Media Sensationalism: “Some sociologists believe that the recent wave of sex offender laws has been the result of a “moral panic,” an exaggerated public response to a perceived threat. However, as figure 2 shows, 93 percent of offenses against children are committed by family members and acquaintances; the “stranger danger” crimes, which spurred the creation of most sex offense laws, are relatively rare. These observers argue that changes in the media—in particular, the rise of 24/7 cable news stations and Internet news sites have increased public awareness of sex crimes, with the result that many people now believe that crimes against children are on the rise. According to this viewpoint, policymakers have simply responded to the public’s demand for countermeasures. As one legislator recently told a group of researchers, “I can’t go anywhere without someone asking me about some [sex offense] they heard on the news, ‘What are you doing about that?’” Some also point out that the first wave of sex offender laws in the United States—the one that occurred between 1937 and 1955—also coincided with a major advance in communications, the advent of television as a presence in the national media. ”

Recidivism: “However, there is a significant body of research that appears to contradict this proposition. One recent study found that sex offenders had a five-year recidivism rate of 24.5 percent for all offenses and a 2.8 percent recidivism for sexual offenses; in contrast, other felony offenders had a five-year recidivism rate of approximately 48 percent for all offenses.24 Another study found that people arrested for sexual offenses had a five-year offense-specific re-arrest rate (the rate at which they were re-arrested for the same crime within five years) of 6.5 percent. Only people arrested for homicide had a lower five-year offense-specific re-arrest rate (5.7 percent); the rates for robbery, burglary, and public order offenses were 17.9 percent, 23.1 percent, and 21.4 percent, respectively.25 A 1994 study by the U.S. Department of Justice found that 24 percent of sex offenders were convicted of another crime (including but not restricted to sex offenses) within three years; in contrast 46.9 percent of all offenders were convicted of another crime within this period.”

Public Misinformation: “There is some evidence that the general public, in spite of its strong support for tough sexual offense laws, is not well-informed about the nature and extent of sexual offending. One recent study, which compared survey responses with published data, found that the public significantly overstates both the rate at which convicted sex offenders re-offend and the proportion of sexual assaults that are committed by strangers (see figure 3, below). These findings led researchers to conclude that public misperceptions “present a clear challenge to policymakers seeking to create empirically based policies that meet the public’s expectations.” ”

Residency Restrictions: “In spite of their popularity, there is no evidence that residency restrictions are effective in reducing recidivism by sex offenders. Rather, the evidence suggests that residency restrictions are in fact detrimental to public safety. A recent study of sex offenders in Minnesota examined the impact of residency restrictions on recidivism. Researchers found that, of the 3,166 sex offenders who were released from Minnesota correctional facilities between 1990 and 2002—a period when the state did not have residency restrictions—224 had been re-incarcerated for a new sex offense by January 1, 2006. After taking a closer look at these 224 cases, researchers found that none of the offenders had established contact with a child victim in an area that would be likely to fall within an exclusionary zone under a typical residency restriction law.”

“There is little empirical evidence that residency restrictions, as currently implemented, protect public safety. Residency restrictions push sex offenders to the fringes of communities, making it less likely that they will be able to obtain housing, find a job, and receive social support. Restrictions may also make it difficult for otherwise law-abiding offenders to comply with registration requirements—especially those that involve frequent, in-person reporting.”

Fear The Sex Offenders You Know

February 22, 2010 Comments off Fear The Sex Offenders You Know.

A story about a registered sex offender who is accused of taking photos of Girl Scouts in Phoenix has provoked strong reactions from commenters. The commenter “beilstwh” writes about where the most danger to children comes from:

“I have a real problem with people putting their heads in the sand. You don’t have to worry about the strangers molesting your sons and daughters. The overwhelming (about 95%) of molesters are close friends or family members. While well-publicized, the actual attacks by strangers is very low. You need to be worried about the mother or father or brother or sister or the strange uncle or the family friend. That’s who the statistics say will attack your children.”

ID: Man Files Lawsuit over Sex Offender Label

February 22, 2010 Comments off Boise man files suit over sex offender label

Twin Falls, Idaho (AP) – A Boise man has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the state over a suspended policy that led to him being labeled a violent sexual predator.

In court papers, 56-year-old Mark S. Wicklund claims he was damaged by the designation, which is no longer being applied to sex offenders in Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Correction is no longer using the designation after the Idaho Supreme Court determined it had severe constitutional flaws. Department Spokesman Jeff Ray tells the Times-News a new proposal may be ready for the 2011 Legislature. The violent sexual predator designation was intended to identify high-risk offenders.

A 4th District Judge has vacated the designation for Wicklund, who was convicted of sexual battery of a minor in Ada County in 2001.

This is good news and bad news both. This man is suing because an unconstitutional law was applied to label him as a “violent sexual predator”. After the law was defeated in court, he rightly filed suit against the State for damages. Hopefully, as we see these laws defeated in courts across the nation, we will see enormous numbers of lawsuits filed against the States for damages incurred upon individuals by labeling them publicly as dangerous predators online. However, this could also be a reason for unscrupulous courts to become reluctant to find these laws unconstitutional, knowing that their ruling could result in historic liability of the State.

MD: Groups to Oppose Proposed Sex Offender Bills

February 22, 2010 Comments off Groups to oppose proposed sex offender bills.

Sex offenders have been a hot topic in Annapolis this session, with a number of bills submitted and Gov. Martin O’Malley reactivating an advisory board. But several groups plan to oppose the bills Tuesday at a House of Delegates judiciary committee hearing. I’m ripping this straight from the press release I just received from the Justice Policy Institute:

Annapolis, MD – Representatives from the Justice Policy Institute (JPI); American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland; the Maryland Office of the Public Defender; the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), the Defender Association of Philadelphia and the Office of the Ohio Public Defender will testify Tuesday, February 23 before the Judicial Committee of the Maryland Assembly, as the Committee considers a host of bills aimed at increasing penalties and post-incarceration requirements for people convicted of sex offenses.

In particular, some bills will expand Maryland’s sex offender registries to come into compliance with the controversial federal Adam Walsh Act, which requires states to include many youth on registries. Other bills would limit employment, living, civic and other opportunities for people who have been convicted of a registerable offense.

WHAT: Hearing by the Judicial Committee of the Maryland Assembly on numerous bills related to sex offenses

WHO: Various experts on sex offense policies and Maryland advocates, including:
Amy Borror, Public Information Officer, Office of the Ohio Public Defender, to discuss the failure of Ohio’s sex offender policies and registries to improve public safety (while costing that state millions of dollars);
Nicole Pittman, Esq., Juvenile Justice Policy Analyst attorney, Defender Association of Philadelphia, on the negative impacts of sex offender registries on youth; Sarah Bryer, National Juvenile Justice Network, on developmentally appropriate responses to youth that have committed sex offenses; Tracy Velázquez, Justice Policy Institute, on the research around what policies are effective in promoting public safety, and collateral consequences to youth and adults of registration and other punitive policies; Cindy Boersma, ACLU of Maryland, on the threat of juvenile registries to public safety and the importance of focusing sex offender management on effective prevention and deterrence rather than stigmatization. Laurel Albin, Esq., Maryland Office of the Public Defender, on the dangers of juvenile registries and importance of risk assessment-based sex offender supervision.

WHEN: 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 23, 2010

WHERE: Maryland House of Delegates, Judiciary Committee Room, Six Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD