With endless research now disproving the long held myth of high sex offender recidivism and even Attorneys General calling for the registry’s abolishment, a new study seeks to fan the dying flames of this once white hot hysteria. The paper makes the claim that all previous studies of sex offenders are flawed because they underreport the actual recidivism, as they only deal with those rearrested, and most reoffenders are never rearrested.
At first blush, this sounds plausible. After all, as the person who brought this to our attention noted, all crime is underreported. Even when crime is reported to police, it is rarely even investigated, and perpetrators are rarely ever caught. For instance, surveys consistently show that between 30-40% of all adults have consumed drugs in the past year, and more than 75% of adults have done so in their lifetimes. Yet, only 10% or so of Americans have a felony conviction. So, underreporting is, sadly, a reality.
So, does this really make the study plausible? No. The underreporting of sex offenses has been thoroughly studied, and, like all sex offender myths, thoroughly debunked. In 2011, the New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center-hardly a pro-sex offender group-found that somewhere between 69-76% of all victims of sex offenses reported them. This is not just higher than any other category of victim, it is double, or even triple that of most categories of crime leaving a victim. If anything, many agencies admit that sex offenses are over reported. According to most police statistics, there are much higher rates of false accusations for sex offenders than for any other category, and the police are still more likely to pursue the charges.
Not only is the study’s assumption undermined by the actual data out there, on reporting of first/new offenses, the methodology falters when confronted with the reality of monitoring of convicted sex offenders, and the strict conditions of probation, parole, supervised release, or registry they must endure, it becomes sheer fantasy to suggest that large numbers of those on the radar are committing crimes-and doing so en masse-without being detected. How are such offenders not being caught when taking polygraphs or on ankle bracelets?
This becomes impossible to believe once you consider the fact that, except for rape and exhibitionist offenses, virtually all sex offenses are committed by close friends or family members of the victim, and are crimes of opportunity. While there may be some parents out there who will let convicted offenders watch their children, such are a small subset of all parents-especially as most states would impose criminal liability for doing so. A parent who molested their child likely will get no opportunity to do it again. And, if they did, they would likely get turned in if they tried anything.
Though the study has sizable flaws (pointed out by Derek Logue of OnceFallen.com) in methodology, it is unnecessary to go that deep. It is based on assumptions which are affirmatively rebutted by every sex offense victim group out there, and which make no sense on their own merits. Even accepting the underreporting thesis, the idea that we’re not catching recidivists who have already been convicted is nonsensical. The John Hopkins’ Moore Center for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse readily admits a couple offenders slip through the cracks here and there, but scoffs at the idea that any meaningful number are escaping detection. This widespread epidemic is not happening.
As the registry and discrimination against sex offenders are breathing their last breath, the dying gasps of their supports are becoming more frantic and desperate. There is no winning on the facts, so the lies are more wild and outlandish with each last ditch effort to save these illegitimate laws.