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Sex Offenders: The Challenge of Successful Reentry Keys to Ending Homelessness Conference Series: Criminal Justice Re-entry Strategies October 28, 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Sex Offenders: The Challenge of Successful Reentry Keys to Ending Homelessness Conference Series: Criminal Justice Re-entry Strategies October 28, 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sex Offenders: The Challenge of Successful Reentry Keys to Ending Homelessness Conference Series: Criminal Justice Re-entry Strategies October 28, 2011

2 Sex Offenders and Reentry James M. Byrne, PhD, Professor Criminal Justice and Criminology University of Massachusetts Lowell William H. Fisher, PhD, Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at University of Massachusetts Lowell and Professor Psychiatry,University of Massachusetts Medical School Charles McDonald, Director of Communications MA Sex Offender Registry Board Carlos Mercado, Detective, Lowell Police Department

3 What do we currently know about sex offenders and reentry? Changing Sex Offender Profile Changing Sex Offender Reentry Policies Reentry and the Role of Sex Offender Registries Reentry, Sex Offenders, and Evidence-based Practices

4 Trends in Sex Crime Levels, Location and Offender Arrest/Prosecution Reported crime : Despite the media attention to sex abuse in the Catholic Church, internet solicitation of minors on To Catch A Predator, and the recent stranger abduction /assault cases involving Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Lee Dugart, sex crime has been on the decline over the past two decades, mirroring the overall decline in violence in this country since the early 90’s. Sex Crime Locations : About 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home, and 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative. Arrests and Prosecution : New categories of sex defendants are entering our federal and state court systems, due to new laws, while new Federal, state, and local law enforcement initiatives appear to have increased both sex crime reporting and clearance rates.

5 Sentencing, and Control of Sex Offenders Sentencing : Compared to a decade ago, sentences for convicted sex offenders are now more likely to include incarceration, but the majority(60%) of all convicted sex offenders are currently in the community corrections system. Re-Offending: Sex Offenders are not a homogeneous group in terms of recidivism risk, but overall, sex offenders pose the lowest risk of re-offending of all offender groups. The U.S. Department of Justice found that over a three year period after being released from prison, 5.3% of sex offenders were rearrested for a new sex crime (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003). Risk vs. Stakes: Sex offenders appear –as a group—to be low risk for new criminal behavior, but decisions regarding sex offenders are perceived to carry high stakes for community residents, legislators, and corrections officials

6 The Community Control of Sex Offenders: New Initiatives Lifetime Supervision : Legislation has been passed allowing lifetime probation or parole supervision for convicted sex offenders in twenty six states; in these jurisdictions, GPS monitoring of offender location and movement is also the norm. New Classification and Reporting Procedures: Adam Walsh Act requirements –if implemented fully—will increase the size of the registered sex offender population, and mandate uniform offense-driven reporting requirements. To date, only a small number of states have substantially met these requirements. Residency Restrictions: Many jurisdictions have passed legislation that restricts registered sex offenders from living near schools, parks, libraries, bus stops, and other places where children congregate. Monitoring the Homeless Sex Offender Population : Due to residency restrictions, a growing number of sex offenders are registering as homeless, which requires new strategies for monitoring this subgroup of registered sex offenders.

7 Estimates of the Size of the Missing/ Noncompliant Sex Offender Problem National Compliance Estimates by NCMEC: There are approximately 100,000 sex offenders currently not in compliance with sex offender registration/notification requirements. These estimates are based on telephone survey data, which raises reliability concerns. Compliance rates are likely to vary both within and across states, due to a variety of factors, including (1)resources,(2) qualifications of personnel,(3) monitoring frequency, and (4) access to technology.


9 Can Hot Spots Locations For Registered Sex Offenders Be identified? No research has been conducted to date on whether sex offenders are locating in jurisdictions where reporting requirements and/or monitoring strategies are more lenient. It is also possible that registered sex offenders are locating/ clustering in those areas without residency restrictions for sex offenders. In the following Ohio illustration, it is apparent that registered sex offenders are clustered in a small number of Ohio Counties

10 Mapping Registered Sex Offender Locations: An Ohio Illustration

11 Implications for Policy: Intended vs. Unintended Consequences We may be exaggerating the extent of the missing sex offender problem, and the threat posed by registered sex offenders. The Adam Walsh Act’s classification system –based on offense type rather than risk assessment—may result in over-classification and unnecessary costs. New legislation limiting sex offender residence may have unintended negative consequences for both offenders( e.g. homelessness) and communities( e.g. victimization). New Lifetime supervision legislation may be cost prohibitive, with little impact on offender recidivism. The utilization of private for profit companies in sex offender location may prove costly, and may raise privacy concerns.

12 Registered Sex Offenders in Lowell 49 registered sex offenders reside in Lowell, Massachusetts 5 are currently homeless; 5 are in the shelter on Middlesex Streets 3 are in violation/missing Registered Sex Offenders cluster in two locations( Appleton and Middlesex Streets) Transitional housing will continue to be needed in Lowell

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