RECENT news reports show an alarming number of arrests for sex crimes. I trust that those charged with these crimes will move through our criminal justice system in due course and that justice will be served. Those who are convicted of sex crimes, however, present a special problem to the community well after their sentences have been served.
Because of the proclivity of sex offenders to re-offend, it is necessary for the government to institute a sex offender management program. Such programs vary from one jurisdiction to another, but the basic components involve sex offender disposition, treatment, registration and supervision. These programs are designed to increase public safety and reduce victimization. Many have been studied through the years in order to assess their efficacy in reducing recidivism – the commission of a subsequent offense. I have reviewed some of the studies conducted on recidivism rates, treatment programs and supervision for sex offenders. The statistics vary based on the type of sex crime, elapsed time and the treatment program.
The conditions of supervision some jurisdictions impose upon sex offenders are: no contact with children; no use of computers; comply with the Sex Offender Registration Act; not be within 1,000 feet of schools; complete approved sex offender treatment; electronic monitoring; and polygraph examinations.
A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice on sex offenders from 15 states found that released sex offenders were four times more likely to be re-arrested for a sex crime, compared to non-sex offenders. A 2002 study by Washington State found those convicted of sex crimes had a 50 percent recidivism rate. Some sex offenders, such as child molesters, may re-offend many years after an initial sex offense. While these statistics are important, it is also important to consider that many sex crimes go unreported – including re-offenses by convicted sex offenders. For these reasons, it is vital we do all we can to protect the public – especially our children – from victimization. This is the reasoning behind my introduction of Bill No. 385-31.
A key dimension of sexual assault prevention is stopping sex offenders from continuing to commit such crimes. Bill No. 385-31 restricts convicted sex offenders from being employed in areas such as schools and childcare centers when children are present. This and other restrictions in the bill are designed to protect those most vulnerable to being victimized by sex offenders. Sex offenders cause great harm to their victim. Victims of sexual assault suffer devastating physical, emotional and psychological harm long after the assault occurs. It is incumbent on policy makers to make every effort to minimize the opportunity for convicted sex offenders to again commit these heinous crimes. We must keep convicted sex offenders away from our children, our homes and those who are vulnerable to be attacked. This is what Bill No. 385-31 seeks to accomplish.