SMART Symposium Proves What We Already Knew

First off, I want to appologize for missing Friday’s post. I know I told everyone that I would be going to twice a week, but I was so busy with other things, it just slipped my mind. Here is this week’s post.

On July 17, SMART held a national symposium in Chicago on sex offender management and accountability. For those who don’t know, SMART is an acronym for the Office of Sex Offender Monitoring, Apprehension, Registration, and Tracking, a federal unit that was created by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act that helps “enhance” public safety. During the event, members from various groups, collectively known as “The Alliance” and included Women Against Registry, Once Fallen, SOSEN, CURE-SORT, FAC, ACSOL and others wore t-shirts emblazoned on the back with “The Registry Does Not Protect Children.” Needless to say, they received quite a bit of attention during the event.

According to a blog post from FAC and Once Fallen, the symposium consisted of several workshops for event goers to attend. The attendees included law enforcement, legislators, activists, and curious citizens. One of the topics included increasing technology in modern society. According to Jack F. Clark, President and CEO of NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children), today’s technology is like “George Orwell on Steroids.” While Mr. Clark was trying to showcase that technology gives society the ability to more easily monitor and track sex offenders, he tended to forget the overall aspect of Mr. Orwell’s book, 1984, and government overreach.

The only problem with the entire event is that there were very few actual statistics involved. Why? Well SMART did issue some numbers that show what everyone already knew, sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of any offender. In fact, in a study done y Cohen and Spidell in 2016, the overall arrest rate for non-sex offenders was 31.4%, while those convicted of a sex offense was 17.5%, nearly half of non-SOs. Out of those numbers, for non-sex offenders, 23.0% resulted in a major arrest (presumably meaning a felony) while sex offenders only had a 7.8% rate. Those arrested for violence, not including a sex offense was 7.9% for non-sex offenders and only 1.8% for sex offenders. This means that there were over 100 times as many violent arrests for non-sex offenders as there was for sex offenders. Finally when it came to any sex related arrested, non-sex offenders were at 0.5% while sex offenders were 2.8%.

While this sounds like sex offenders had a higher rate, if you look at the actual numbers, there were 89,615 non-sex offenders, meaning 448 were arrested for a sex offense. Yet, out of the 3,909 previously convicted sex offenders, only 109 committed a subsequent sex offense. The probation revocation rates were very similar though, 22.6% for non-sex offenders versus 19.2% for sex offenders. Out of all of those with a conviction for a sex offense, the leading type of offense were those convicted of child pornography, which made up 58.5% of all sex offenders.

In that category, the numbers were similar percentagewise overall amongst pornography offenders including those with no record of contact behavior and those with an official record of contact behavior, whether it be an arrest, self-admittance or court documents. Out of those, 163 with no record of contact behavior were violated, or 7.1% as opposed to 102 for those with a contact record, or 4.5%.

Those with a sexual assault conviction had a 23.1% arrest rate, including 9.9% for non-sexual violent arrests and a 38.5% revocation rate. What really caught me was those arrested for SORNA violations (presumably failure to register). There was a 41.8% rearrest rate, 26.1% were a major arrest, 8.0% were for a “violent” offense and the revocation rate was 47.2%! However, the revocation rate seems to be skewed a bit. A friend of mine who was told by a court he was not required to register, is now on his third violation for not registering, simply because he didn’t follow the orders of his probation officer. This is despite the fact it was against the court’s wishes. So the revocation rate cannot be used as an accurate indicator of “dangerousness”.

In another study done by the United States Sentencing Commission titled “USSC: Report to Congress on Child Pornography Offenses”, the sexual recidivism rate for all offenders was [only] 7.4% (45 of the 610 cases). Out of those 45 offenders, 22 offenders (or 3.6% of all 610 cases) were arrested for or convicted of a sexual “contact” offense (e.g. rape or sexual assault of a child or adult); 14 offenders (2.3% of the 610 cases) were arrested for or convicted of a subsequent child pornography offense; and the remaining nine offenders (1.5% of the 610 offenders) were arrested for or convicted of a noncontact sex offense involving obscenity or commercial sex.

A third study presented titled “Child Pornography Online Risk Tool (CPORT)” in a 2019 study followed 80 men convicted of a child pornography offense over a five-year period. During that time, it states “15% any new sexual offense” and “9% child pornography offense”. The problem is that this does not state if they were arrests, convictions or simply violations. However, the best indicator that the registry does not protect the public was in a letter to the Global Research Project by Linda Krieg, the Acting CEO of the NCMEC in which it read in part, “Our experience indicates that the number of images being collected and traded by offenders worldwide continues to expand exponentially, and these images include graphic and violent abuse and feature young children, including infants [which we at BackSoSoon do not deny still exist]. [However, ]

[d]

espite criminal and civil efforts to stem its tide, child sexual abuse material remains a pervasive and growing problem.”

We agree that there is a problem and it needs to be addressed. The majority of those convicted of sex offenses, specifically pornography offenses, myself included, know that this is an ongoing problem. We know we did something illegal and immoral and the majority are sincerely remorseful for our actions. Most are not serious offenders and simply got involved in something at a young age while living with their parents or simply lacking social skills to properly integrate into society. Yet, statistics and numerous court cases have shown that the registry does not work to protect society any more now than it did before its implementation. In fact, it has probably made the issue worse.

Recently, a man was visiting a retail store when he heard shots ring out. While nobody was injured, police interviewed the man and only then did he learn that he was the target. When asked if he knew the shooter, the man stated he had never seen the shooter before in his life. When police questioned the shooter, he stated he simply found his name on the registry, begin stalking him and tried to take him out because of his status. Yet, the man had lived a crime free life for several years.

In other news, by now, many have probably heard of the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein was a convicted sex offender and billionaire being held without bail at a detention center in Manhattan. After an incident approximately two weeks ago, Epstein was placed on suicide watch. According to sources, he was removed from watch just days ago, only to supposedly take his own life this past Saturday morning.

This is not just an issue with sex offenders but any person in the carceral system. Mental illness plays a major role and the “suicide companion” program does not seem to be too helpful for those who have taken their own lives. While I won’t go into details about why I believe this, there are numerous problems that need to be addressed and corrected.

In closing, as I have told many of you about my upcoming release. I have had to file a BP-9 to get my good time. I am still waiting to hear a response. While my release date is presently in November 2020, a friend of mine who was scheduled for release in 2029 just received his. This only supports my point that it is being done arbitrarily. I also am going up for team this Wednesday and hope to be put in for my halfway house. I will continue to fight for this as well. I have learned in the past week that any individual who completes the Non-Residential Drug Abuse Program is eligible for the maximum amount of placement in a halfway house unless extenuating circumstances prevent it.

I am in the process of speaking with the DAP coordinator and the Psychology Department to try and put in a recommendation not for the full 12 months, but just for six months. I’ll keep everyone informed on this ongoing situation.

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