They Shoot Sex Offenders, Don't They?

Categories: Crime, Crime

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In this week's print edition of New Times, you'll find a feature story on the warring opinions over Florida's sex offender registry. It's also not the only piece of journalism around town this week diving into the issue.

Over the last three days the Sun-Sentinel has dropped a large-scale investigation into the state's Jimmy Ryce law, a safeguard designed to keep the state's worst sex offenders locked up after their prison time. Even though the investigation's data-mining turned up some troubling trends, the series was a textbook knee-jerk sex offender story: the data took a backseat to a parade of horror stories, painting a slightly intellectually dishonest picture of the situation.

See also: Sympathy for the Devils: Should Sex Offenders Have More Rights? Or None at All?

"I think the story wasn't inaccurate, it was not inaccurate, but it was somewhat misleading," Dr. Jill Levenson, an associate professor of psychology, told New Times this week. "These are exceedingly rare events."

First off, we can all agree that the crimes uncovered by the series were terrible, horrible failures of the system. The story is a good piece by that standard. But by juggling data points with up-close camera shots of victims, the Sun-Sentinel has written the kind of series that's always at odds with itself.

There's an inherent conflict between data and anecdote here, number-crunching and tabloid sensationalization. And as we all know, the latter - these emotional horror stories that tap directly into our deepest fears for ourselves and out children - stick more easily to the reader than any number set. But it's also that emotional jolt that keeps a reader from contextualizing the data.

By the paper's own methodology, 31,000 people have been screened since the program was founded in 1999.

The paper flagged 594 offenders who Jimmy Ryce program failed to grab. That number represent 1.9 percent of the 31,000 screened by the program. The paper's own methodology notes that the actual sample size is smaller, that "more than half" of the screened individuals had "limited ability" to commit more crimes, although "limited ability" seems a little vague. The paper notes "10,000 returned to prison," "1,800 were never released, and more than 4,800 died, were deported or moved to another state" (but did they re-offend before dying, deportation, or kicking out for another state? That's not mentioned). So here the paper seems to be saying that16,600 of the 31,000 screened didn't have a chance to re-offend. That leaves 14,400 individuals, and the 594 would represent 4.1 percent of that total.

The series also does not give us the big picture context of what slice of the sex offender population we're dealing with. As of April 2011, there were 55,847 people on Florida's sex offender registry. 84 percent of that number fell into the sex offender category (46,911 offenders), and 16 percent were designated in the more serious sexual predator category (around 8,935). Although the Jimmy Ryce act patrols the worst of the worst, the Sun-Sentinel series is clearly going to have an impact on that entire number.

Some people feel that the empirical jolt of the headlines is the best way to assess the threat predators present, that studies are inherently faulty or guided by their own agendas. If that's where you stand, you could say the same for big time daily newspaper investigations.

The paper showed how the state has failed to keep the worst offenders off the street -- an important point. But these are the bad guys we can all agree need to be closely watched. The state's current system also calls for a debate about grey-area cases and the less sensational, tabloid-ready moments when our institutions break down. This kind of high-volume outrage drowns out those conversations.




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5 comments
RodTemple
RodTemple

Following is the comment I made about the original article; the important parts still apply:

I am listed on big government's Sex Offender Registry. I know for a fact that it protects no one.

This article referred to me as "scumbag" and "lowest of society's low". Those are absolutely blatant lies. I am a good person. I am a good person to and for many people. However, I do feel like the Registries have given me carte blanche to treat people pretty much however I feel like it. They have given me complete permission to call anyone names, exploit them for money, force them from their jobs and homes, be completely antagonistic to them, etc. I don't have to treat people who support the Registries like real people.

The Registries could have been somewhat useful and not so completely counterproductive if it were not for complete idiot criminals like Parkhurst and the scum like her. They seriously need quality lives of their own that they can concentrate on.

The Registries were created on the huge lie that people would read them and be "informed". Then the idiots got hold of them and destroyed them. Being "informed" just wasn't enough, they had to harass people. That's when the Registries went from being a tool to being a weapon of civil war. There are no Americans who support these big criminal governments forcing people from their homes. Please show me one decent American or person who supports people listed on the Registries being homeless. There aren't any. The "people" who think that is okay have shown their true characters and the fact that they are scum.

I will try to be brief. I have been listed on the Registries for a very long time. I have ensured that with respect to me, they are worse than worthless. I do everything possible that is legal to retaliate for their existence and it is a lot more than nearly anyone would imagine. A person can be quite disruptive when they put their minds to it.

I am around children all the time. Very few families that I interact with know that I am Registered. I do all that mostly simply because I live a normal life but I also do it because that is the proper response to the Registries. There are no laws that can be passed that will ever change that.

I never help employees of our criminal regimes with anything, especially law enforcement employees. I do not allow them to interact with me. There is no "monitoring" of any sort going on. Anyone who believes the lies of the nanny big governments otherwise, is a naive fool.

I use my businesses to cost the criminal regimes as much money as possible. All legally, of course.

I locate offensive terrorists who support the Registries and I do what I legally can to disrupt their lives. I find terrorists like Parkhurst and I buy the property next door to them so I can move Registered people in there. I have multi-unit properties where I move Registered people in and without fail, some other people living there think they can do just whatever they want and break legal contracts. I have sued all of them and won every time. They may not be terrorists like Parkhurst, but they still support the vast stupidity. They all have to pay.

It's a much longer story but in short, I'm going to have my rights and have a good life. There is nothing the terrorists can do to stop it. All they are doing is preying upon people who are usually weaker than they are or are in a temporarily weakened state. Real pillars of the community, those terrorists. It would be stupefying if they had enough sense not to brag about it.

urhairfix
urhairfix

The very existence of the sex offender registry is Wrong.  Here's why:  

1. the recidivism numbers are only 1.9% according the Department of Justice latest report. 

2. Of that 1.9% how many of those acted out because of mental illness?  

3. Why do we have probation and parole departments?  So they can sift out who can remain in society and to insure these people attend therapy.  These systems work that's why the recidivism rates are so low. 

 4.  If someone is so bad they have to be put on some kind of LIVING DEATH hit-list ...why are they even amongst us?  

5. The registry is a form of LIVING DEATH it is Evil and it is Wrong.  No matter how you paint a box of crap the smell remains.  

6.  The registry as it is can be added to POST-FACTO at the whim of every politician looking to get elected.  The Registered sex offender is the new whipping boy.  

7. the Gospel of Christ via redemption (Christianity Today online) and the US Constitution seems to not apply to those on the registry.   

8. many churches treat registrant differently than other believers.  How did Jesus handle that woman (sex offender) caught in Adultery that was sentenced to death by stoning?  Forgiveness, Compassion and Grace. 

9.  Where is the voice of the Church on this LIVING DEATH called the sex offender registry (Proverbs 16:25)?  There silence is deafening! 

oncefallendotcom
oncefallendotcom

A good article hindered by a VERY poorly worded title. It implies we should also go out and shoot Kaitlyn Hunt in the head as well.

The Sun-Sentinel article is a massive fearmongering campaign. After all, 500 reoffenses in 14 years is a minuscule number even set against the nearly 60,000 names on the current list, much less when you consider the number of people that have been added to that list in 14 years. This is only going to be exacerbated by the Walsh Act, which eliminates risk assessments as criteria for status based decisions. 

Under the AWA, Kaitlyn Hunt, the 18 year old currently prosecuted for consensual relations with her 14 year old girlfriend, could make her a predator by AWA standards. Ironically, the "Romeo and Juliet" provision that allows a four year age difference exclusion to the registry is NOT honored by Florida, which is in fact an AWA compliant state.

http://www.oncefallen.com/

val03
val03

Tell that heartwarming peice of prose to the three kids who were molested last week in three different churches by Bible thumpers looking to give sex offenders a "second chance" under the BS umbrella of Forgiveness.. Forgiveness belongs to God... in the here and now your ass belongs to US..

val03
val03

Kaitlyn Hunt turned into every definition of a Predator ..Like all sex offenders they are too stupid to grasp when they are ahead. Kaitlyn Hunt had the empathy and support of the public until her impulsive, compulsive behavors kicked in by contacting her "victim" after specifically being told not too,  even while being under the spotlight of the public. Kaitlyn Hunt deserves any repercussions the state can dish out, she begged for it.

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