Omaha-area TV stations are receiving this letter from Nebraskans Unafraid:
As we informed you last year, non-family sex crimes against children on Halloween are virtually non-existent. Recent research in Nebraska shows that the reoffense rate of former sex offenders is extremely low.
Despite these facts, you probably will hear about Halloween “sex offender patrols” in the weeks ahead. In light of the facts, these patrols waste taxpayer dollars and distract law enforcement from its mission of protecting the public. Should you decide to treat a Halloween “sex offender patrol” as anything other than the hoax that it is, we urge you to report on the research results we cite. A study done by the University of Nebraska-Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice shows that former sex offenders reoffend at a rate of less than 5 percent at the most, contrary to what you probably believe. Here is a link to the research report: http://tinyurl.com/StateofShame
This report found that as tiny as the reoffense rate is, it still went up after Nebraska enacted a law that placed all former offenders no matter their risk to reoffend on the public shaming website. That likely is because Nebraska’s new law caused former offenders to lose jobs, homes and social networks. Research elsewhere has shown that when people’s lives are damaged in this way, they are more likely to turn to crime.
According to four respected researchers, there is no reason to waste law enforcement resources on publicity stunts like “Halloween sex-offender patrols.” The researchers are Mark Chaffin, University of Oklahoma; Jill Levenson, Lynn University; Elizabeth Letourneau, Medical University of South Carolina; and Paul Stern of Snohomish, Wash. Here is their conclusion:
“This study found no significant increase in risk for non-familial child sexual abuse on or around Halloween.” The study spanned nine years of data, 1997-2005. The researchers said that “Halloween” policies have no impact on crime.
A Nebraska nonprofit group, Families Affirming Community Safety Inc. (FACTS), has asked the Douglas County Sheriff’s office to produce evidence that a registrant has ever harmed a child on Halloween in Douglas County – EVER. The sheriff could not produce any such evidence. He did cite Halloween-patrol arrests from another jurisdiction, but those arrests were NOT for crimes against kids. They were for technical violations of laws such as requiring registrants to shut off porch lights on Halloween.
Please contact Lisa L. Sample, Ph.D., a criminal justice expert (contact info below), so that you may provide accurate context for any Halloween registrant patrol stories.
Omaha-based Criminal Justice Expert Lisa L. Sample, Ph.D.
Dr. Sample is Professor and Reynolds Professor of Public Affairs and Community Service, University of Nebraska-Omaha. She is also the Masters Program Coordinator for the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. She conducts research in juvenile and criminal justice sentencing disparities, drug control policies, prison reentry programs, and sex offender behavior and policies.
To score political points and get at one former sex offender, politicians in Arkansas are willing to deny care to thousands of Medicaid patients. One of the politicians, predictably, repeats the lie about "protecting children." Everyone should know by now that every piece of research conducted over the past 10 years proves that laws like this do not protect children.
The good news is that the former offender, a doctor, and his patients are fighting back.
Law enforcement's home-invasive checks on former sex offenders are being challenged in a federal lawsuit filed in Alabama.
The checks are in addition to offenders' legally required checkins with law enforcement. They typically are conducted so that the law enforcement agency can qualify for grant money, which comes from taxpayers' pockets. They are a waste of resources, are often turned into publicity stunts and have been shown to be ineffective at protecting the public.
Such checks in Nebraska typically target former offenders who are fully in compliance with the law because those offenders are easiest to find. In the meantime, truly dangerous offenders escape law enforcement attention.
Aside from putting the public in danger, these home-invasive visits violate the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which is supposed to protect you against unreasonable search and seizure.
The Alabama American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking an Alabama sheriff to court over the issue. Click here to read the full story.
The September 2013 issue of our Ninety-Five% donor newsletter is in production. Here's a sneak peek at what we're working on:
The Nebraska Legislature's Judiciary Committee commissioned a research study to gauge the effectiveness of Nebraska's LB 285, the law that stuck all registrants on the public-shaming website. The study found that reoffense rates went up under the new law and confirmed that former SO reoffense rates are very low. It also contains other findings that demolish myths about former SOs. We'll have an exclusive interview with the author of the study, who has some ideas you will be interested to hear.
We are following up on the issue of whether Douglas and Lancaster counties ought to be letting registrants sign and have copies of their verification visit forms. There's a bit of interesting finger-pointing going on among the law enforcement agencies involved.
ATLANTA, Georgia (W.A.R. Release) -- State lawmakers
“There was a light-bulb moment for legislators as the discussion progressed about children of registrants being beaten up or suffering depression because their mother or father are on a public registry,” said Vicki Henry of Women Against the Registry (W.A.R.). (Henry is seen at left in the photo, along with Larry Neely of RSOL).
Neely, of the Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) group, told lawmakers about the recent vigilante murders of a registrant and his wife in South Carolina.
Lawmakers who paid attention said: “I didn’t know that happens” or “Oh my gosh, they looked up the sex offender’s name and address on the public registry, murdered him and his wife.”
Not only are public websites tools for murderers, they make no sense from a public safety standpoint. Recent research in Nebraska shows that reoffense rates of former sex offenders are extremely low. But reoffending increased when Nebraska adopted the Adam Walsh Act, which put every former offender regardless of risk on the public shaming website.
Sharing the recent tragedy out of Texas, where a 10-year old girl was charged with the rape of a four-year old boy left many speechless. The portrayal of this story to summit attendees was a signal that the pendulum needs to swing back in the other direction. It was made apparent to conference attendees that counseling would be a better alternative rather than incarcerating and destroying our youth.
Fellow advocates USA Fair and Florida Action Committee were also in attendance and advocating for reform.
The first scientific study of sex offender recidivisim in Nebraska yields two important facts:
1. Former sex offender reoffense rates are extremely low.
2. Overall former sex offender reoffense rates were lower under Nebraska's old risk-based system, the one that was thrown out when the state adopted Adam Walsh Act standards with LB 285 in 2010.
Other studies have shown that destablizing the lives of offenders by depriving them of jobs, housing and community support increases the likelihood of reoffending. Thus it should be no surprise that reoffense rates are rising under LB 285, which has resulted in the loss of jobs, housing and community support for former sex offenders.
Depending upon which years are considered, reoffense rates for Nebraska sex offenders cited in the new study range from a low of under 2 percent to a high of just over 5 percent -- confirming that about 95 percent of those on Nebraska's sex offender registry website are not dangerous.
One inescapable conclusion: The Nebraska Legislature's "finding" that all sex offenders pose a high risk of reoffense is wrong and ought to be thrown out.
The Nebraska State Patrol, responding to an inquiry from Families Affirming Community Safety Inc. (FACTS), agrees that abandoning registrant signatures on verification forms is contrary to state law.
The NSP letter, with pertinent text highlighted, may be read here.
FACTS also sent inquiries to the Douglas and Lancaster County sheriff's departments and awaits their clarifications regarding refusal to give registrants hard copies of their verification forms. We will let you know about developments.
Fox News reports from Columbia, S.C., that a registrant
Reacting to a story in our Ninety-Five% newsletter, we received a letter from a Nebraska registrant who wants to know how far the State of Nebraska will go out of its way to harm his family.
We reported in the April issue of the newsletter that the Nebraska State Patrol now puts information about your family's cars on the public shaming website. That makes the site an even better targetting tool for someone who wants to stalk and harm you, your kids and your wife.
Learn more in the short video, Enablng Vigilantism.
What is the University of Nebraska-Omaha research commissioned by the state Legislature finding about former sex offenders? How effective in "protecting the public" have been the new laws that were put in place with passage of LB 285 of 2009?
Answers to these and other questions are included in the May issue of Ninety-Five%, the monthly newsletter for donors to FACTS and Nebraskans Unafraid. The newsletter drops in the mail soon. In June, we celebrate one year of the publication of Ninety-Five%.
An interim report was delivered to the Legislature's Judiciary Committee in December 2012, and its findings are eye-opening. We have a copy of the report and our donor newsletter gives you details. The newsletter also continues our series on the absurdities in Nebraska law on former sex offenders.
The newsletter is sent each month to donors who make gifts of $5 per month or more to FACTS. You may send your check FACTS, PO Box 460664, Papillion, NE 68046.