Dec 282013

Here is an excellent article about the use of online Registries to track people who have committed sexual crimes.

28a-researchContrary to popular belief, offender registries are not a recent phenomenon. Offender registries are government-controlled systems that track the movements and other activities of certain persons with criminal convictions. While today they are most commonly used for sex offenders, registries have been adopted

since the 1930s to regulate persons convicted of a wide variety of offenses including embezzlement, arson, and drug crimes.

Early registries were widely criticized as ineffective and overly punitive, and many were eliminated through litigation or legislative repeals. Others simply fell into disuse over the course of the 20th century. Now, there is a growing body of research that demonstrates that modern sex offender registries are similarly ineffective at reducing crime. Sex offender registries are costly, vastly overbroad, and error-ridden.

Even worse, the overwhelming stigma of public notification provisions may actually increase recidivism among offenders.2 [sic] Despite their repeated history of failure, enthusiasm for publicly available, internet-based registries for every offense imaginable has only grown in recent years. There have been proposals across the country to register those found guilty of animal abuse, arson, drug offenses, domestic violence, and even failure to pay child support.

Existing registries are expanding and becoming increasingly punitive. Without a concerted effort to stop the tide of offender registration, we are at risk of repeating past mistakes on a much larger and more treacherous scale.

Offender registries are backwards, punitive measures that do not make communities safer. Unfortunately, those in favor of more nuanced, data-driven methods of reducing violence and sexual abuse face substantial barriers in overcoming precedent from years when registries were far narrower in scope than they are today… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Sex Offender Statistics>

I am personally acquainted with cases where such online registries have thoroughly disrupted the lives of individuals, who had completed treatment and lived productive lives in their communities.  The greatest danger to the community comes not from offenders, who have completed treatment, but6 from those, who have not yet been discovered.  I urge you to click through to the original article.  It contains a wealth of information on why we need to be concerned with restoring such individuals, not heaping additional punishment on them.

Apr 142011

Congratulations to Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC), to the prisoners who have turned their lives around to become law-abiding members of the community, and to the volunteers that helped them succeed.

14revolving-door2There’s a lot of truth to the popular image of the "revolving door" of U.S. prisons. The first state-by-state survey of repeat criminality, issued today by the Pew Center on the States, found a "stubbornly high" rate of return to prison: 43 percent of inmates released in 2004 and 45 percent of those freed in 1999 were back within three years.

Pew did find some signs of hope from states that use proved methods to avoid sending ex-prisoners back to long periods of custody for minor violations.

Pew’s effort is the first since the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) discovered in 1994 that about 52 percent of inmates were reincarcerated within three years. The old and new surveys can’t be compared because of differing methodologies.

Nevertheless, a look at states involved in both Pew and BJS surveys found that recidivism rates have been largely stable–around 40 percent.

While the Pew Center stopped short of declaring that the recidivism picture is improving nationally, Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Public Safety Performance Project,  told reporters that several states are experimenting with ways of getting a better return on the billions of dollars spent annually on public safety–what Gelb termed a "triumph of science over sound bytes."

Kansas, Oregon, Utah lead in declining returns

The new report says that three states, Kansas, Oregon, and Utah, led the U.S. in declining returns to prison in the two release groups studied by Pew: 1999 and 2004. Pew called Oregon a "national standout" for reducing recidivism by 31 percent between the 1999 and 2004 release groups.

Oregon stepped up its inmate case management during imprisonment and after release and subjected ex-inmates to "swift, certain consequences for violations" that rarely result in a return to prison…

Inserted from <The Crime Report>

Hat Tip Cure National:

To read the full report in PDF format, click here.

I was quite surprised to learn that Oregon recidivism for 2004 releases had dropped to 22%.  While I would not discount the effectiveness of inmate case management, much of the credit also belongs to the prisoners and volunteers who provide pro-social activities to help prisoners make the changes necessary to survive as productive citizens. 7th Step is provides some of those activities.