SEX OFFENDERS & AMERICAWhat brought this up was an article in the LA Times about a paroled rapist in California.
I have little sympathy for the rapist but I do find the governments methods of dealing with him more than a bit bizarre and expensive. The short version goes like this:The guy couldn’t get housing due to the knowledge of his history.
In California there is now “Jessica’s Law’ which forbids sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet (almost half a mile) from any California school, park or beach.As the State couldn’t seem to find him acceptable housing, they hired yet another ‘outside contractor’ to do it for them.
Their solution was a tent in the Ventura River bottom with a taxpayer paid security guard in a nearby vehicle 24/7.
This would be but a bizarre story of government conflicts and expensive solutions were it not for the added information that the State of CA had also notified an additional 2,741 other offenders paroled in just the last 10 months that they, too, were in violation and had to comply within 45 days.
Hm-m! In looking deeper I found more than a few statistics that surprised me.
First, though, I wanted a definition of a sex offense. That should be easy, right? Well, I gave up after the first 8 pages of google were only filled with sex offender registries.When I did find something, it was fairly vague. Oh, the expected categories of Rape and child molestation were there but after that, things were muddily referred to as crimes against “chastity, public decency and morals and this beauty, “inappropriate behavior against the social norms”.
Finally Wikipedia came with salvation with the following list. Not all items on the list are crimes in all places but a large majority are.
- Rape, lust murder
- Child sexual abuse
- Statutory rape
- Consensual sex between underage participants
- Frotteurism: sexual arousal through rubbing one's self against a non-consenting stranger in public
- Exhibitionism and voyeurism, if deliberate and non-consensual, called "indecent exposure" and "peeping tom" respectively in this context. (mooning?)
- Incest between close relatives - laws on what is permitted and not permitted vary widely.
- Telephone scatologia: being sexually aroused by making obscene telephone calls
- Sex with animals
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual acts by people in a position of trust (such as teachers, doctors and police officers), towards any person they are involved with professionally.
- Extra-maritial relations are illegal in some places.
- Child Pornography (Producing)
- Child Pornography (Possession)
- Child grooming (refers to actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing emotional control over a child, in order to lower the child's inhibitions in preparation to sexually abuse or rape the child)
- exposure of children to pornography
- exposure of children to certain sexual behaviors
- Anal sex
- Homosexuality and/or homosexual acts
- Oral sex
- Various Paraphilias/Fetishes (Sexual) such as transvestitism
- Pornography (adult)
- Prostitution and/or pimping
- Ownership of vibrators and other sex toys
- Public urination
- Stealing underwear -
Yikes! On Wikipedia there are hyperlinks describing any of these you aren’t familiar with. Some are simply un-provable thought crimes such as being consistently turned on by ‘non-sexual objects’ and several are the assumed ‘intent or desire’ to do something. It sure looks like the honorable tradition of ‘mooning’ is dead in its tracks!
Now the statistics and the numbers. We have always heard about how difficult it is to successfully treat sex offenders. I can tell you how few places will even try – there are almost no rehab centers for sex offenders.Also we are told how releasing them will just insure repeat offenses. The arguments are for adding on to their sentences, moving them to mental hospitals, physical and chemical castrations and the ever-present sex offender lists.
Most men have a massive fear of being in any situation that might bring up the title of ex offender. We know that merely being accused is as good as a conviction in most locales, not to mention vigilante justice, loss of employment, loss of housing and more.
With almost everybody getting divorced at least once in their life, it has become a more common accusation in both divorces and child custody situations – something most difficult to defend against. The US has the most restrictive laws governing sex offenders in the world (we also seem to create more). No other country governs where they can live and only six have laws requiring registration and that only with the police.It all has the same characteristics of the Salem Witch Trials.
OK – here are the numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics :
600,000 – the number of registered sex offenders in the US. There are actually many more offenders but the restrictive laws make it feasible for many folks to not register, change names, move etc. and, of course, there are the inevitable “plea bargains”.
5.3% - the number who re-offend in the next 3 years.
68% - the number of non-sex offenders who will re-offend.
24% - the number of the most violent offenders who re-offend in the following 15 years. Most of the offenses occur in the Eastern US with the exception of California, Texas, and Michigan.
Now the next interesting thing. Studies and reports note consistently that public notification, internet offender lists and restrictive laws governing residences have had no noticeable effect on the perpetration or rate of sexual offenses. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jqJPKVO5BkcvtV5AnsvhMD2kYOGA
Part of this problem is the listing of sexual offenses – it is a broad brush but in the public eye, the label alone is sufficient to put them all in the same bowl. I live in Alaska where there are not a lot of ‘rest stops’ and we tend to pee outside a lot. It is a worrisome trend. Just think, averaged out to all 50 states, the average number per state is around 12,000.