I thought I would throw this in after having come across it and remembering this post.http://www.angelfire.com/mi/collateral/page3.html
SEX OFFENDER LAWS AND REGISTRATION/NOTIFICATION
By Matthew Rosenberg, MSW, CSW
There are a number of points about Michigan's sex offender list that have been completely ignored by people...It is obviously such a political hot potatoe, and any lawmaker that tries to really change it for the better may be committing political suicide...However, as highlighted many times in the past, the registration and notification has cost Michigan millions, as well as taking precious law enforcement resources away to "manage" the list and offenders..
The first thing that must be really explored is what is the true purpose of the list? I suppose lawmakers say it is for community protection; however, all one has to do is review some of the studies that examined the effect of protecting the community...The most comprehensive study was completed in Washington state, and their public notification program was shown to have absolutely no impact on recidivism, reports of child sexual abuse, protective service reports, etc. The other fact that is routinely ignored is that 93% or so of offenses involve an offender and child who were either living with each other at the time, related to each other, or knew each other very well....Thus, community notification would really have no protective effect if the offender and victim are already living with each other...The public fear is that a sexual offender is some funny looking man, with glasses, who is going to abduct a child off the street and molest them....However, this type of offender really represents less than 3% of all sexual crimes (NOTE: not the funny looking man with glasses, but a man that abducts a stranger child and sexually assault him/her).
With Jessica's Law going through each state now, it is tragic how the lawmakers have not really focused their attention on who was to blame for that crime...obviously, the man was to blame; however, the court system was to blame for that as well. That man had demonstrated sexual violence in the past. He was charged with sexual crimes a number of times in the past, and had done prison time in the past. For the court to let that man out on the streets again, or a parole board who let him out of prison knowing his past...that is also where the blame must be focused.
I have worked with sexual abusers (adolescent and adult, male and female) for over 13 years. I completed a number of studies on the effectiveness of specialized treatment, and each study demonstrated a very low recidivism rate for treated abusers (especially juveniles). Even a meta-analysis, an all encompassing study done by the U.S. Justice Department showed the reality of recidivism with sexual offenders...that other types of crimes have a far higher recidivism rate (thieves, drunk drivers, other forms of assault, etc). As therapists, we know the type of sexual offender who will relapse at a higher rate...the homosexual pedophile has the highest relapse rate....exhibitionists, untreated, also have a very high relapse rate...however, these two types account for less than 10% off all reported offenses.
The other point I always bring up in lectures I do is to dispel the notion that a "sex offender" can never change..or that he or she will need years of therapy to change...It is similar to drunk driving...if a man grew up in an alcoholic home, began using alcohol in 6th grade, had numerous MIP's as a teen..drank all through college..drove drunk hundreds of times, then, at age 34, he gets charged with DUI...the shame from the arrest, involvement with court, having license suspended for 90 days, and going to a weekend driver education class, will not be enough to sway this man from drinking. However, if we take another person that grew up in a healthy family system with no alcoholism or drug abuse, experimented with booze as a teen and young man, then drank responsibly as an adult, and at 34, drives home from a birthday party that was at a bar, and was pulled over. The shame from the experience, fear of the consequences, involvement with court, paying thousands of dollars, etc., is likely going to be enough to correct his behavior without him going to substance abuse therapy for 3 years...The same is true with sexual crimes. If a person grew up in a sexually abusive home or highly sexualized home, demonstrated compulsive sexual behaviors as a teen and adult, a fixation of children, and then gets reported at age 30...this man will need extensive therapy and the fear and shame from his involvement with the court will not be enough to change his behavior. The point really is that the courts have to do a better job of assessing each person who is charged with a sexual crime. Michigan simply lumps them all together.
The irony is that as juveniles, when they turn 18, their juvenile criminal record is sealed, and they never have to tell anyone that they were adjudicated of a crime (or sex crime); however, if they were adjudicated of CSC 1st or 2nd degree, on their 18th birthday they will have public notification for 25 years to life....but, because the crime was committed when they were juveniles, they never have to tell anyone that they were adjudicated. The state has tried to fix this mess by allowing some juveniles the opportunity to petition the court for removal of the system; however, I have not had one former client be given the opportunity to petition. Juvenile court's entire purpose is to rehabilitate, not punish, or so that is the intended purpose. To treat the kids the same as we treat the adults is insane. To say that a 13 year old who engages in sexually inappropriate or abusive behaviors, understands the behavior and consequences as well as a 44 year old man is a terrible mistake; yet, with the registration and notification laws, we treat them the same. The kids do not understand the terrible effect the notification will have on their lives...How does a woman, who is on the public registry for an adjudication when she was 14, explain to a new boyfriend at age 25 that she is a "sex offender" and on the public list?
The public list not only punishes the men, women, and adolescents who are on it, but it punishes all of their family members, future family members, employers, friends, etc. With the new federal legislation passing soon, where people as young as 12 will have public notification for life...The two authors of the bill stated that the federal list will effect something like 4 million men and women (who will be on the list)...however, when you account for the family members, children, parents, friends, etc., it is really effecting something upwards of 50 million people. For the youthful offenders, I know how difficult it is for them to have public notification. If, by some chance, they are able to find a man or woman to marry one day...and when they have their own children..I feel very bad for what will happen...their own children will be punished for having a mother or father being on the list...how will other kids treat them when it is well known that their mother or father is a "sex offender"? What parent will send their children to the home to play with the children? The children will be teased and isolated for their entire schooling...
If a person is so dangerous that the public needs to be informed of their whereabouts, that person should be in prison, not on the streets...the public list is a "feel good law" that creates a false perception of public protection...If a family "knows" who the registered sex offender is on their street, they can keep their children away from him/her...however, it is far more likely to be the babysitter for the family, the father or stepfather or brother, who actually presents as a risk to the children...but because we are looking in the other direction entirely, we are failing to protect the kids from the true abusers.
We are now telling offenders where they can and cannot live, even if they are not involved with the court system in any way...Several states have passed castration laws...The lawmakers want to place GPS tethers on the offenders at a cost of $700 per month..when every state is running deficits and we are in an economic recession. States such as Florida, on their sex offender notification website, have the term "fliers" next to each offenders name, however, the website states that no one can use the sex offender information as retaliatory and cannot post it...
When the lawmakers and politicians have a son or daughter that is accused, or who has engaged in sexually abusive behaviors, that will change their viewpoint on the entire process, the court system, and the law. Moreover, when property values in high income areas begin to really fall, we will then see a push to "change" the laws..for example, in Birmingham, if there is a street where the homes are going for, on average, 1.5 million, and one of the houses is listed as having a sexual offender residing there, who is going to pay top dollar to live near a "sex offender"?
As you can see, I am a little frustrated with what has been going on...I apologize for rambling to you, and I usually try and offer solutions...One of the solutions is to model our state like Ohio or Massachusetts...Is Massachusetts, they have a panel made up of many people (citizens, doctors, therapists, police, etc) that reviews each case individually, and then places them in one of three levels...the first level is registered by has no public notification, the second is registered but if the public wants to know who they are, they have to come to the police station, the third they are registered and on the website...Ohio's law is similar. As you know, Michigan just places them all together, and the list really does not give any meaningful information that could even remotely be seen as helpful to the public..for example, what should be on the list should be if the person's crime was predatory or violent...if they engaged in and completed treatment...their projected risk of reoffending, who they present the highest risk to, and so forth.
We need to use some of the money that is being wasted on prevention..how many times, while driving, do you see billboards that say "Report Sexual Abuse?" How many television commercials have you seen that focus on sexual abuse...there are plenty for drug abuse, but none for sexual abuse...we need more preventative measures..that is the only way to really tackle the problem of child sexual abuse, but yet there have been no significant efforts in the United States to do this.
The states that are doing it better than Michigan may be fighting a losing battle though..with the new federal legislation, the federal laws would trump the states, and so having a three tier system will be pointless if the federal government simply places all offenders on their website...By the way, the lists are compounding and cumulative...therefore, I would say that by 2040, one out of every four houses in the U.S. will be listed as housing a sexual offender.
Thanks for listening, and I hope there is some information contained in here that may be helpful to you. Please let me know if you have any questions at anytime.