To say that maintaining this blog and advocating for registry reform is a magnet for criticism and outrage would almost be an understatement. If a day goes by without someone calling me or my fiancee names, insulting my intelligence or suggesting that everyone on the registry endure a horrific demise, I almost wonder if I haven't been working hard enough.
Myself and others in the movement often comfort ourselves by trying to remember that the average American citizen really has no idea what they're talking about when they open their mouth about sex offenders or the registry. And I mean really, why would they? How would they? The media only reports the worst of the worst - or if it's really a slow week, something scary-sounding like a "failure to register" or "violating the sex offender registry." Law enforcement gives the same robotic explanation every time they're asked about how to use the registry, what the levels supposedly mean, and reminding us it keeps children safe. Lawmakers routinely spout blatant fallacies about high recidivism and other myths when proposing tougher legislation.
Searching for and reading lengthy reports and studies about sex offender statistics, crime rates and other related material probably isn't one of anyone's favorite hobbies (except mine, of course.) But unfortunately, when what's described above is the alternative, it should be something you do occasionally. If not because you're interested in the truth or fair treatment or the safety of all families, then because you truly care about your own loved ones and will be better able to protect them. Note: I maintain a ~*HUGE*~ library of studies on the subject on my website, ESCAPE. And no, I did not "write" the studies. They are a compilation of federal, state, and independent outfits.)
So just for fun, I decided to give any dissenters or sex offender haters the opportunity to prove they have even a vague idea of what they're talking about. Answer as many as you want in the comments section...or, if you're an advocate, ask your family and friends for their opinions. (Center for Sex Offender Management did an actual study on public perception in 2010 - see the contrasts between that and reality here.)
1. What is a registered sex offender?
2. What impact has the registry had on re-offense rates and/or first-time sexual offenses?
3. Roughly how many registered sex offenders are re-convicted for new sex crimes?
4. What impact have residency restrictions had on re-offense rates and/or first-time sexual offenses?
5. True or false: most sex offenders have victimized children.
6. True or false: it's possible for children and juveniles to be convicted of sexual crimes and placed on the public registry.
7. True or false: Jerry Sandusky was on the registry and a background check would have prevented him from being in a position where he had access to vulnerable children.