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Effectiveness of New York State Sex Offender Management Policies: Are We Making Communities Safer?. Jeffrey C. Sandler, Ph.D. Talk presented by the New York State Alliance of Sex Offender Service Providers March 30, 2012. Purpose: Review the Public Safety Research Literature.

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Effectiveness of new york state sex offender management policies are we making communities safer l.jpg

Effectiveness of New York State Sex Offender Management Policies: Are We Making Communities Safer?

Jeffrey C. Sandler, Ph.D.

Talk presented by the New York State Alliance

of Sex Offender Service Providers

March 30, 2012


Purpose review the public safety research literature l.jpg

Purpose: Review the Public Safety Research Literature

  • Registration and Community Notification

    • Existing research

    • The NYS offender-leveling instrument

  • Residency Restrictions

  • Civil Management


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Part 1:Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification


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Offenders in New York State

  • Map says 32,994 as of November 4, 2011

  • Ackerman, Levenson, & Harris (in press) wanted to know how many were actually in the community

    • Examined the number of registered sex offenders in five states, including NYS

    • Took out offenders not in the community (i.e., living out of state, dead, civilly committed, and/or deported)

    • Were left with 15,950 in the community in NYS


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Legislative History

  • Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (1994)

  • Megan’s Law (1996)

  • Pam Lychner Act (1996)

  • New York State’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA; 1996)

  • Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act (2000)

  • Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (2006)


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Research on the Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification: Evaluations using Offenders

  • Schram & Milloy (1995): No significant difference in re-arrest rates between registered (n = 90) and unregistered (n = 90) sex offenders in Washington State

  • Adkins, Huff, & Stageberg (2000): No significant difference in sexual reconviction between 201 sex offenders released in Iowa prior to registration enactment and 233 sex offenders subject to notification (sexual reconviction rates of 3.5% and 3.0%, respectively)


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Research on the Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification: Evaluations using Offenders (cont.)

  • Duwe & Donnay (2008): Examined the impact of community notification using a notification group (n = 155), a pre-notification group (n = 125), and a non-notification group (n = 155) in Minnesota and found notification to significantly reduce odds of sexual recidivism

  • Freeman (in press): NYS sex offenders subject to notification were re-arrested more quickly and at a higher rate for sexual offenses than those not subject to notification requirements after controlling for supervision effects


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Research on the Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification:Evaluations using Crime Rates

  • Barnoski (2005):

    • Findings:

      • Rates of sexual felony recidivism dropped after 1990 passage of registration law

      • Rates of sexual felony and violent felony recidivism dropped after 1997 amendment of the notification law

    • Study limitations:

      • Like the previous studies, only looked at recidivisms

      • Only examined rates through percentage comparisons and binary logistic regression, so ignored natural changes in the crime rate


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Research on the Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification:Evaluations using Crime Rates (cont.)

  • Walker, Maddan, Vásquez, VanHouten, & Ervin-McCarthy (2005):

    • Findings:

      • Six states experienced no change in rape arrest rates

      • Three states experienced a drop in rape arrest rates

      • One state experienced an increase in rape arrest rate

    • Study Limitations

      • Used UCR data: Could not separately model recidivisms, first time offenses, or different sex offenses

      • Modeled no non-sexual offense series for comparison


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Research on the Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification:Evaluations using Crime Rates (cont.)

  • Zgoba, Witt, Dalessandro, & Veysey (2008)

    • Findings:

      • Statewide sexual offense rates steadily decreased from 1985 to 2005

      • No consistent effect of Megan’s Law at county level

      • Costs an average of about $265,000 per county per year to maintain the registry (mostly for staff)

      • Limited effect of Megan’s Law may not justify expense

    • Study Limitations:

      • Used UCR data: Could not separately model recidivisms, first time offenses, or different sex offenses


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Using a New York State SampleDoes a Watched Pot Boil? A Time-Series Analysis of New York State’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law

Jeffrey C. Sandler

Naomi J. Freeman

Kelly M. Socia

Article published in:

Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (2008), 14, 284-302


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Goals of the Study

  • An empirical time-series analysis of the impact of New York State’s 1996 Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA)

  • An attempt to understand how SORA’s enactment influenced arrests rates

  • An attempt to investigate how different types of offending were impacted


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Data

  • Two hundred and fifty-two months (21 years) of statewide individual-level arrest data from 1986 [10 years before SORA] to 2006 [11 years afterward]

  • Aggregated to the state level

  • Included every sexual offense arrest [and therefore every sex offender arrested] during that time

    • Over 170,000 sexual offenses

    • Over 160,000 different sex offenders


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Test (9)

Registerable sex offenses (RSOs)

Total

Recidivisms

First time sex offenses

Rapes

Total

Recidivisms

First time sex offenses

Child molestations

Total

Recidivisms

First time sex offenses

Comparison (8)

Within group (sex offenders)

Assaults

Robberies

Burglaries

Larcenies

Outside group (statewide)

Assaults

Robberies

Burglaries

Larcenies

Series Modeled


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RSO Arrest Counts


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Results:Basic offending statistics

  • Most sexual offenses committed by first time sex offenders (i.e., were not sexual recidivisms)

    • Total RSOs: 95.88%

    • Rapes: 95.94%

    • Child molestations: 94.12%


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Results:Interrupted ARIMA

  • All test and comparison series were found to be ARIMA (0,1,1)(0,1,1)12 models

  • Test series: No significant change (increase or decrease) in the number of monthly arrests in any of the sexual offense series


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Discussion

  • Limitations

    • Arrest and re-arrest only a proxy measures for offending

    • Were not able to account for sex offenses committed in another state

  • Conclusions

    • No evidence that registration and community notification laws impacted rates of sexual offending

    • Given that the vast majority of sexual arrests are of first time (i.e., unconvicted) sex offenders, public policies that target convicted sex offenders may be limited in their ability to significantly reduce sexual offenses


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Research on the Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification:Evaluations using Crime Rates (cont.)

  • Letourneau, Levenson, Bandyopadhyay, Armstrong, & Sinha (2010)

    • Findings:

      • A significant reduction in adult sexual offending following the enactment of South Carolina’s sex offender registry

      • No significant impact on sex offenses following the enactment of South Carolina’s internet notification

    • Study Limitations:

      • Only looked at first time offenses

      • Did not separately model different sexual offense types


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Research on the Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification:Evaluations using Crime Rates (cont.)

  • Prescott & Rockoff (2011)

    • Findings:

      • Reduced sexual offenses associated with:

        • Broad registration without notification

        • Only of cases when the victim knew offender (not stranger cases)

      • Reduced sexual offenses associated with notification when applied narrowly…but increases when applied broadly

    • Study Limitations:

      • Used NIBRS data: Could not identify recidivisms/first time offenses, findings subject to reporting changes

      • Had big holes in their “registry size” variable


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Research on the Impact of Sex Offender Registration and Notification:Evaluations using Crime Rates (cont.)

  • Agan (2011)

    • Findings:

      • No significant impact associated with registry or notification enactment

      • No significant difference in sexual recidivism rates for offenders released before and after enactment

      • No relationship between the number of registered sex offenders living in an area and sexual abuse rates

    • Study Limitations:

      • Used UCR data

      • Had big holes in her “registry size” variable


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Why No Impact in New York?

  • Way the public is using registry and notification information is limiting the potential impact


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Research on the Public and Registration and Notification

  • Phillips (1998):

    • More than 60% of community members believed registration and notification encouraged sex offenders to behave better

    • Over 50% of respondents:

      • No change in leaving children with babysitter or unsupervised

      • No less likely to go out alone

      • No change in level of community involvement


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Research on the Public and Registration and Notification (cont.)

  • Anderson & Sample (2008):

    • Almost 90% of respondents aware of the registry

    • Only 35% had accessed it

    • Over 60% of community members report taking no preventative measures

    • The most common preventative measure taken was to pass the information along to

      • Children

      • Neighbors


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Research on the Public and Registration and Notification (cont.)

  • Kernsmith, Comartin, Craun, & Kernsmith (2009)

    • Over 94% of respondents aware of the registry

    • Only 37% had accessed it: Families with young children most likely (59%)

    • Sex offenders found to live in 99% of zip codes

      • Only 27% of all respondents believed an offender lived their community

      • Of those respondents who had accessed the registry, 51% believed an offender lived in their community


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Research on the Public and Registration and Notification (cont.)

  • Sample, Evans, & Anderson (2011):

    • A study of internet registry access specifically (which the authors feel is a more true test of the impact of community notification than recidivism)

      • About 17% of the sample accessed the registry for safety reasons

      • About 14% got their registry information from other sources

    • Did a bunch of regression analyses, but the methodology was questionable


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Why No Impact in New York?

  • Way the public is using registry and notification information is limiting the potential impact

  • The way New York State operates its registry and notification is limiting the potential impact

    • May be an artifact of the system’s structure:

      • Letourneau et al. (2010) – Different (more broad) system

      • Prescott & Rockoff (2011) – Registration should be broad, but notification needs to be narrow

    • May be that SORA levels are not truly indicative of sexual recidivism risk

      • The instrument has never been validated since its inception (Guidry, 2004)


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SORA risk-leveling instrument

  • Intended to assess two things:

    • Likelihood of an offender sexually recidivating (risk)

    • Seriousness of the offense if the offender sexually recidivates (harm)

  • Developed shortly after the passage of SORA

    • Before much research on sex offender risk was available (e.g., Hanson & Bussiére, 1998)

    • Before many sex offender-specific risk assessment measures were available (e.g., the Static-99)


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SORA risk-leveling instrument

  • Contains 15 items within four categories:

    • Current offense(s)

    • Criminal history

    • Post-offense behavior

    • Release environment

  • Various weights given to each item

  • Generates a total score ranging from 0 to 300, which corresponds to a level designation

  • Allows for the possibility of an override


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SORA risk-leveling items

  • Current offense(s):

    • Use of violence

    • Sexual contact with victim (e.g., over vs. under clothing)

    • Number of victims

    • Duration of offense conduct with victim

    • Age of victim

    • Other victim characteristics (e.g., mentally disability)

    • Relationship with victim


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SORA risk-leveling items

  • Criminal history:

    • Age at first sex crime

    • Number and nature of prior crimes

    • Recency of prior felony or sex crime

    • Drug or alcohol abuse

  • Post-offense behavior:

    • Acceptance of responsibility

    • Conduct while confined/supervised

  • Release environment

    • Supervision

    • Living/employment situation


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SORA risk-leveling instrument

  • Risk level assignment from score:

    • 0-70 = Level 1

    • 75-105 = Level 2

    • 110-300 = Level 3

  • Four possible reasons for override (presumes a Level 3 designation) if the offender:

    • Has a prior felony sex conviction

    • Inflicted serious physical injury or death

    • Made recent threat to re-offend sexually/violently

    • Has an abnormality that hinders his/her ability to control impulsive sexual behavior


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SORA risk-leveling instrument

  • According to the website of the New York State Division of Criminal justice Services (DCJS):

    • 39% of all offenders are designated as Level 1

    • 36% of all offenders are designated as Level 2

    • 25% of all offenders are designated as Level 3

  • As stated earlier, there has been no validation of the SORA risk-leveling instrument since its inception


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Study Goals

  • Investigate the predictive validity of the SORA risk levels:

    • Risk of sexual re-arrest

    • Harm of sexual re-arrest

  • Investigate how the SORA risk levels compare to other predictors of sexual recidivism


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Method: Data and Analyses

  • Data: A sample of 3,633 sex offenders

    • Registered in New York State as of August 2005

    • With 5 years of post-release follow up (study censor date was January 2007)

  • Analyses:

    • Basic frequencies and descriptives to examine both risk and harm

    • Receiver operating characteristic area under the curve (AUC) to test predictive accuracy

      • Ranges from 0.0 to 1.0 (AUC = 1.0 means perfect prediction)

      • Prediction no better than chance is AUC = .50


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Method: Study Variables

  • Outcome variables:

    • Risk: Sexual re-arrest within 5 years of release (no/yes)?

    • Harm: New York State penal code arrest class (misdemeanor/felony)?

  • Independent (predictor) variables:

    • SORA risk levels: Those actually assigned (e.g., after overrides)

    • Variables empirically-related to recidivism


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Method: Comparison Models

  • Wanted to keep them simple and straightforward:

  • Model 1:

    • Age at release

    • Prior RSO arrests

    • Variety of offense types

  • Model 2:

    • Age at release

    • Prior RSO arrests

    • Variety of offense types

    • Stranger victim


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Method: Analytic Strategy

  • Comparison models:

    • Randomly split the sample in two:

      • Developmental dataset (n = 1,831)

      • Validation dataset (n = 1,802)

    • Generate risk models using logistic regression with sexual recidivism within 5 years as the dependent variable on the developmental dataset

    • Test the predictive accuracy of the models on the validation dataset

  • Assigned 39%, 36%, and 25% of offenders to Levels 1, 2, and 3, respectively


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Results: Risk

5-Year Sexual Re-Arrest Rates

Level

1

2

3

SORA

Levels

5.9%

6.5%

10.8%

Model 1

3.5%

7.9%

13.6%

Model 2

3.5%

6.8%

15.4%


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Results: Risk


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Results: Risk

Predictive Accuracy

Level

SORA Levels

Model 1

Model 2

AUC

.572

.646

.667

95% CI

.537 - .607

.600 - .692

.620 - .713


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AUC Results:

Assigned SORA level


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AUC Results:

Model: Age, RSO Arrests, Variety


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AUC Results:

Model: Age, RSO Arrests, Variety, Stranger


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Results: Harm

Felony Sexual Re-Arrest Rates

Level

1

2

3

SORA

Levels

51.7%

60.5%

65.4%

Model 1

58.5%

59.6%

65.4%

Model 2

59.6%

56.2%

67.2%


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Results: Harm

Predictive Accuracy

Level

SORA Levels

Model 1

Model 2

AUC

.543

.534

.548

95% CI

.473 - .613

.464 - .604

.478 - .617


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Results: Harm

  • Rethought harm variable

    • Recoded it to be continuous (i.e., B misdemeanor through A-1 felony)

    • Analyzed its correlation to the various risk levels

Level

SORA Levels

Model 1

Model 2

Correlation to Harm

.092

.109

.138

p

.125

.068

.021


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Discussion

  • Limitations

    • Re-arrest only a proxy measure for re-offending

    • Official arrest offense class is only a proxy measure for seriousness of the sexual arrest

  • Conclusions

    • Risk

      • Assigned SORA risk levels do significantly predict 5-year sexual re-arrest

      • Using logistic regression and just a few variables, it’s possible to significantly improve risk prediction above SORA levels

    • Harm

      • SORA risk levels do not significantly predict sexual re-arrest offense class, whether coded dichotomously or continuously

      • One of the logistic models did significantly predict continuous sexual re-arrest offense class


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Summary:Registration and Notification

  • Majority of research has found no significant, systematic impact of the policies, however:

    • Some emerging evidence of sexual crime reduction associated with registration

    • Some emerging evidence of sexual crime increase associated with broad notification

  • No research to support the ability of registration and/or notification to reduce child molestations


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Summary:SORA Risk-Leveling Instrument

  • NYS SORA-levels:

    • Do significantly predict sexual re-arrest

    • Do not significantly predict sexual re-arrest class

  • A simple logistic model:

    • Can predict sexual re-arrest significantly better than SORA risk levels

    • Can significantly predict sexual re-arrest class if coded continuously


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Selected References: Registration and Notification

Barnoski, R. (2005). Sex offender sentencing in Washington State: Has community notification reduced recidivism? Olympia, WA: Washington Institute for Public Policy.

Freeman, N. J. (in press). The public safety impact of community notification laws: Re-Arrest of convicted sex offenders. Crime & Delinquency. Available though OnlineFirst at http://cad.sagepub.com/pap.dtl

Letourneau, E. J., Levenson, J. S., Bandyopadhyay, D., Armstrong, K. S., & Sinha, D. (2010). Effects of South Carolina’s sex offender registration and notification policy on deterrence of adult sex crimes. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37, 537-552.

Prescott, J. J., & Rockoff, J. E. (2011). Do sex offender registration and notification laws affect criminal behavior? Journal of Law and Economics, 54, 161-193.

Sandler, J. C., Freeman, N. J., & Socia, K. M. (2008). Does a watched pot boil? A time-series analysis of New York State’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 14, 284-302.

Schram, D. D., & Milloy, C. D. (1995). Community notification: A study of offender characteristics and recidivism. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Walker, J. T., Maddan, S., Vásquez, B. E., VanHouten, A. C., & Ervin-McCarthy, G. (2005). The influence of sex offender registration and notification laws in the United States. Retrieved June 1, 2007, from www.acic.org

Zgoba, K., Witt, P., Dalessandro, M., & Veysey, B. (2008). Megan’s Law: Assessing the practical and monetary efficacy. Trenton: New Jersey Department of Corrections.


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Part 2:Sex Offender Residency Restrictions


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Brief History

  • First enacted in Florida and Delaware in 1995

  • Usually restrict sex offenders from residing within 1,000 to 2,500 feet of schools, playgrounds, daycare centers, and other places where children congregate

  • No statewide residency restriction law in NYS, but there are numerous township, city, and county laws (think the first was in 2005)

    • The Office of Sex Offender Management (OSOM) used to provide a list of these on their website

(See Meloy, Miller, & Curtis, 2008; Socia, 2011 for factors influencing the enactment of residence restrictions)


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Intent and Basis

  • Attempt to protect children from sexual abuse committed by previously convicted sex offenders

  • Based on several assumptions related to sexual offending:

    • Sexual recidivism accounts for many, if not most, instances of child sexual abuse

    • The majority of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by strangers

    • Residential proximity to areas where children congregate is related to sexual offending


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Research on the Assumptions:Recidivisms are the Problem

  • Nationwide, 87% of all individuals arrested for sexual crimes had been not previously convicted of a sexual crime

  • In New York State, only 5% of all sexual crimes (and only 6% of all child molestations) were committed by individuals previously convicted of a sexual crime

(Greenfeld, 1997; Sandler et al., 2008)


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Research on the Assumptions:Perpetrated by Strangers

  • Only about 18% of child sexual abuse victims did not know their abuser (71% were acquainted/knew by sight; 10% were family)

  • For elementary and middle school age victims of child sexual abuse, only 5% were abused by a stranger

  • For victims of sexual abuse under the age of 6, only 3% of the offenses were committed by a stranger

(Finkelhor, 2008; Greenfeld, 1997; Synder, 2000)


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Research on the Assumptions:Residential Proximity

  • Chajewski & Mercado (2009)

    • Sex offenders did not live closer to schools on average than community members in towns and counties (but did in cities)

    • Sex offenders with child victims did not live closer to schools than those without child victims

    • Sex offenders with stranger victims did not live closer to schools than those without stranger victims

(see also Zgoba, Levenson, & McKee, 2009)


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Research on the Impact:Proximity and Offending

  • Minnesota Department of Corrections (2003)

    • Examined the cases of all Level 3 sex offenders who had been released in 1997-1999 (before the enactment of the MN residence restriction) who sexually recidivated before March 2002 (N = 13)

    • Concluded:

      • “There were no examples that residential proximity to a park or school was a contributing factor in any of the sexual re-offenses” (p. 9)

      • “Enhanced safety due to proximity restrictions may be a comfort factor for the general public, but it does not have any basis in fact” (p. 9)


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Research on the Impact:Proximity and Offending (cont.)

  • Colorado Department of Public Safety (2004): Sex offenders with an offense during the first 15 months of their post-release supervision usually did not live within 1,000 feet of a school or child care center

  • Blood, Watson, & Stageberg (2008): Iowa’s residency restriction “does not seem to have led to fewer charges or convictions, indicating that there probably have not been fewer child victims” (p. 10)


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Research on the Impact:Proximity and Offending (cont.)

  • Duwe, Donnay, & Tewksbury (2008)

    • Used the files of 224 recidivistic sexual offenses involving minors to examine relationship between:

      • The location where offenders made first contact with their victims

      • Locations included in residency restrictions

    • Found:

      • None of the child sexual recidivists contacted their victims “near a school, park, playground, or other location included in residential restriction laws” (p. 500)

      • Most offenders made first contact over a mile from their home


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Research on the Impact:Proximity and Offending (cont.)

  • Zandbergen, Levenson, & Hart (2010)

    • Matched 165 Florida sexual recidivists to 165 non-recidivists on criminal history and victim variables

    • Found:

      • Non-recidivists were significantly more likely than recidivists to live within 2,500 feet of at least one school

      • No significant difference in the number of recidivists and non-recidivists who lived close (whether defined as within 1,000 feet or 2,500 feet) to day cares

      • No significant difference between recidivists and non-recidivists in distance between home and school or day care


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Research on the Impact:Proximity and Offending (cont.)

  • Nobles, Levenson, & Youstin (in press)

    • Examined sexual offending trends before and after Jacksonville, FL expanded its residency restriction

    • Found:

      • No significant change in overall sexual crime rates following expansion of the restriction

      • No significant change in recidivistic sexual crime rates following expansion of the restriction

    • Important to remember this was a test of expanding the restriction to 2,500 feet, a 1,000-foot restriction had been in place for years


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Using a New York State SampleThe Efficacy of County-Level Sex Offender Residence Restrictions in New York

Kelly M. Socia, Ph.D.

University of New Mexico

University of Massachusetts, Lowell (2012)

Article accepted for publication and in press with:

Crime & Delinquency


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Study Goals

  • Examine whether the enactment of county-level residence restrictions was associated with rates of recidivistic sexual offenses involving:

    • Child victims

    • Adult victims

  • Examine whether the enactment of county-level residence restrictions was associated with rates of non-recidivistic (i.e., first time) sexual offenses involving:

    • Child victims

    • Adults victims


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Method

  • Examined sexual crime rates in all 62 NYS counties

    • Recidivistic (looking for specific deterrent effect)

    • First time (looking for general deterrent effect)

  • Compared the crime rates of counties that enacted residence restrictions with those of counties that had not, while controlling for influences other than a residence restriction

    • Temporal factors

    • Factors impacting all types of crime (i.e., not specific to sexual offenses)


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Results

  • Enactment of a residence restriction:

    • Had no significant impact on recidivistic sex offenses against children

    • Had no significant impact on recidivistic sex offenses against adults

    • Had no significant impact on first time sex offenses against children

    • Significantly reduced (by about 10%) the number of first time sexual offenses against adults


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Discussion

  • No evidence of any impact of residence restriction enactment on sexual offenses with child victims

  • Evidence of a general deterrent effect on sexual offenses against adults

    • First finding of its kind for residence restrictions

    • Supports some emerging findings of a general deterrent effect for registration

      • Letourneau et al. (2010) – Only for crimes sexual crimes committed by adults

      • Prescott & Rockoff (2011) – Only for crimes where the victim was not a stranger


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Research on the Impact:Unintended Consequences

  • An increase in sex offenders registered as homeless in California by up to 60% (up 800% among parolees)

  • About 50% of residential space in Newark, NJ restricted by a 1,000 foot restriction zone

  • Much affordable housing in cities is in densely populated areas, which tend to contain many schools and day cares

(California Sex Offender Management Board, 2008; Chajewski & Mercado, 2009; Tewksbury & Mustain, 2006)


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Using a New York State SampleThe Policy Implications of Residence Restrictions on Sex Offender Housing in Upstate NY

Kelly M. Socia, Ph.D.

University of New Mexico

University of Massachusetts, Lowell (2012)

Article published in:

Criminology & Public Policy (20ll), 10, 351-389


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Study Goals

  • Examine what the areas open to sex offenders under a hypothetical statewide residence restriction would look like in terms of housing:

    • Density

    • Availability (residences open for rent)

    • Affordability (ratio of median area rent to fair market rent)

    • Social disorganization (e.g., unemployment, poverty)

  • Examine how varying the restriction size and scope would impact housing options for offenders


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Method

  • Examined neighborhoods in 47 of NYS’ 62 counties (excluded all counties that were way outside national norms…sorry NYC)

  • Analyzed census block groups to examine neighborhood characteristics

  • Applied hypothetical residence restrictions of varying size and scope to the counties, then compared characteristics of neighborhoods with the most restricted housing to the characteristics of neighborhoods with the least restricted housing


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Results and Discussion

  • Results: Neighborhoods that would have the least amount of restricted housing (meaning they would have the most housing left open):

    • Were less dense

    • Typically had less housing available for rent

    • Typically had less affordable housing

    • Were less disorganized

  • Discussion: From the research on successful offender reentry:

    • The first three results are barriers to success

    • The fourth is a boon to success


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Research on the Impact:Unintended Consequences (cont.)

  • Levenson & Cotter (2005): Offenders report increased:

    • Financial and emotional hardships

    • Difficulty obtaining employment, finding affordable housing, and sustaining relationships with pro-social support networks

  • Tewksbury & Mustaine (2006): Force sex offenders to reside in mostly rural areas where there are few employment, treatment, and educational opportunities

(see Lasher & McGrath, 2012 for the unintended consequences of community notification)


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Research on the Impact:Unintended Consequences (cont.)

  • Willis & Grace (2008, 2009)

    • Developed a release plan quality measure for sex offenders being released in New Zealand

    • Compared scores of recidivists and non-recidivists

    • Sexual recidivists had significantly poorer:

      • Housing plans (2008)

      • Social support (2009)

      • Employment plans (2008, 2009)

    • Important to remember this was only a measure of release planning, not of release experiences

(see Meredith, Speir, & Johnson, 2007; Schulenberg, 2007 for research on housing and recidivism in non-sex offenders


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Summary:Residency Restrictions

  • Little research to show an impact on sexual offending

    • None showing an impact on child victim crimes

    • Some showing an impact on adult victim crimes

  • No research to show sex offenders (specifically child molesters) choose to live close to schools, parks, and the like

  • Found to aggravate certain factors that inhibit successful community reentry


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Selected References: Residency Restrictions

Chajewski, M., & Mercado, C. C. (2009). An evaluation of sex offender residency restriction functioning in town, county, and city-wide jurisdictions. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 20, 44-61.

Duwe, G., Donnay, W., & Tewksbury, R. (2008). Does residential proximity matter: A geographic analysis of sex offense recidivism. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35, 484-504.

Blood, P., Watson, L., & Stageberg, P. (2008). State legislation monitoring report FY2007. Des Moines, IA: Author.

Minnesota Department of Corrections. (2003). Level three sex offenders residential placement issues. St. Paul, MN: Author.

Socia, K. M. (2011). The policy implications of residence restrictions on sex offender housing in upstate NY. Criminology & Public Policy, 10, 351-389.

Socia, K. M. (in press). The efficacy of county-level sex offender residence restrictions in New York. Crime & Delinquency.

Zandbergen, P. A., Levenson, J. S., & Hart, T. C. (2010). Residential proximity to schools and daycares: An empirical analysis of sex offender recidivism. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37, 482-502.

Willis, G. M., & Grace, R. C. (2008). The quality of community reintegration planning for child molesters: Effects on sexual recidivism. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 20, 218-240.

Willis, G. M., & Grace, R. C. (2008). Assessment of community reintegration planning for sex offenders: Poor planning predicts recidivism. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 36, 494-512.


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Part 3:Sex Offender Civil Management Laws(a.k.a. Civil Commitment Laws, Civil Confinement Laws, or Sexually Violent Predator Laws)


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Legislative History

  • Sexual psychopath laws of the 1920s and 1930s

  • Most of these repealed in the 1980s and 1990s

  • First modern sex offender civil commitment statute passed by Washington State in 1990

  • New York enacted its Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act (SOMTA) in 2007


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Modern Civil Management Laws

  • Statutes vary slightly from state to state

  • Share certain key elements:

    • Sexual crimes are particularly heinous

    • Some sex offenders have mental abnormalities that predispose them to engage in repeat sexual offending

    • Such offenders need specialized, intensive treatment

    • The offenders need to be monitored and/or confined while receiving the treatment


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New York State’s Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act

  • Enacted April 13, 2007

  • All offenders about to be released on a qualifying offense reviewed

  • Offenders must have:

    • More than one victim (establish a pattern)

    • High risk of sexual recidivism

    • Mental abnormality related to risk of sexual recidivism

  • Two possibilities for management:

    • Outpatient (SIST)

    • Inpatient (confinement)


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Civil Management Research on Public Safety

  • Problems with studying the public safety impact:

    • Many statutes are still new

    • Highest risk offenders get confined (except in Texas)

  • Approaches to studying:

    • Track offenders recommended for civil management who never get managed

    • Study a cohort of offenders matched to offenders recommended for civil management

    • Compare the sexual recidivism rates of offenders screened out of civil management to unbaised samples


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Research:Recommended, but Not Managed

  • Three studies from Washington State:

    • Schram & Milloy (1998)

      • N = 61, all released by DOC

      • 4-year follow up

    • Milloy (2003)

      • N = 89, all released by DOC

      • 6-year follow up

    • Milloy (2007)

      • N = 135, 123 released by DOC, 12 by another source

      • 6-year follow up

  • In all three studies, offenders had a high rate of sexual felony recidivism (range 23%-29%)


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Using a New York State SampleEvaluating New York State’s Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act: A Matched Historical Cohort Analysis

Larkin S. McReynolds

Jeffrey C. Sandler

Article accepted for publication and in press with:

Criminal Justice Policy Review


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Study Goals

  • Determine which variables contributed significantly to offenders being deemed high risk and receiving a psychiatric exam

  • Assess the likely public safety impact of civil management by examining the recidivism rates of a historical sample of offenders matched to SOMTA–reviewed offenders on variables important to receiving a psychiatric exam


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Method

  • Samples

    • SOMTA cohort: All offenders reviewed under SOMTA through November 2008 (N = 1,991)

    • Historical cohort: All sex offenders released from DOCS between 2000-2005 on what would have been SOMTA-qualifying offenses (N = 4,807)

  • Study design

    • Identify variables important to offenders being referred for a psychiatric exam (the second level of review)

    • Match the SOMTA-cohort to the historical cohort on the important variables

    • Examine recidivism rates of the matched-historical cohort


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Method (cont.)

  • Variables for matching:

    • Offender age at release (+/- 1 year)

    • Partial Static-99 (sum of Items 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7)

    • Number of prior sexual offenses

    • Crime of conviction

  • Found matches for 1,546 offenders (78%)

  • Analyses

    • Recidivism rates and survival analyses

    • Dependent variable: Re-arrest for a sexual offense within 5 years of release (yes/no)


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Results


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Results


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Discussion

  • Appears the SOMTA-screening process is doing a good job of identifying higher risk offenders, which implies SOMTA is likely reducing instances of sexual recidivism

  • Difference in sexual re-arrest rates between historical offenders whose SOMTA match received a psychiatric exam and historical offenders whose SOMTA match did not receive a psychiatric exam was significant, but moderate (5% over 5 years)


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Using a New York State SampleRisk Assessment and Sex Offender Screening in New York

Naomi J. Freeman

Jeffrey C. Sandler

Article published in :

Sex Offender Law Report (2012), 13, 17-30


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Study Goals

  • Assess the likely public safety impact of civil management by comparing:

    • The 3-year sexual re-arrest rate of offenders screened out of the SOMTA-review process

    • The 3-year sexual re-arrest rate of offenders convicted of SOMTA-qualifying offenses, but released before SOMTA was enacted


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Method

  • Samples

    • SOMTA cohort: All offenders reviewed under SOMTA and deemed to not need civil management through December 2010 (N = 3,999)

    • Historical cohort: Sex offenders released from DOCS between 2000-2005 on what would have been SOMTA-qualifying offenses (N = 1,546)

  • Study design: Compute and compare sexual recidivism rates across the two samples


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Results

Sexual Re-arrest Rate

Follow-Up

Period

1-Year

2-Year

3-Year

SOMTA-

Reviewed

1.1%

2.2%

2.9%

Unbiased

Historical

1.2%

2.8%

3.8%


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Results


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Discussion

  • Appears the SOMTA-screening process is doing a good job of identifying higher risk offenders, which implies SOMTA is likely reducing instances of sexual recidivism

  • Difference in sexual re-arrest rates between SOMTA offenders screened out for civil management and the unbaised historical offenders was significant, but small (0.9% over 3 years)


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Summary: Civil Management

  • Tough to assess the impact of these laws, so there are few direct studies of civil management laws and public safety

  • The few studies there are, however:

    • Indicate the review process seems to be accurately identifying high risk offenders

    • Indicate, therefore, likely increases in public safety as a result of the laws


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Selected References: Civil Management

Freeman, N. J., & Sandler, J. C. (2012). Risk assessment and sex offender screening in New York. Sex Offender Law Report, 13, 17-30

McReynolds, L. S., & Sandler, J. C. (2009). Evaluating New York State’s Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act: A matched historical cohort analysis. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Milloy, C. (2003). Six-Year Follow-Up of Released Sex Offenders Recommended for Commitment Under Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator Law, Where No Petition Was Filed. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Milloy, C. (2007). Six-Year Follow-Up of 135 Released Sex Offenders Recommended for Commitment Under Washington’s Sexually Violent Predator Law, Where No Petition Was Filed. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.

Schram, D., & Milloy, C. D. (1998). Sexually violent predators and civil commitment: A study of the characteristics and recidivism os sex offenders considered for civil commitment but for whom proceedings were declined. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.


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Conclusions: Public Safety

  • Registration and notification

    • Some evidence of an increase to public safety with registration, but only under specific circumstances

    • Some evidence shows a decrease in public safety with notification (particularly broad notification)

  • Residency restrictions

    • Some evidence of an increase to public safety, but only for sexual crimes involving adult victims

    • Some evidence shows a decrease in public safety

  • Civil management

    • Evidence shows a likely increase to public safety


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Contact Information/Websites

New York State Alliance of Sex Offender Service Providers:

www.nysalliance.com

New York State chapter of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers:

www.nysatsa.com

Jeff Sandler:

[email protected]


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