OK, so lately for some reason I’ve started listening to talk radio. I suppose I expect them to be at least as enlightening, if not entertaining, as the SDMB.
I was wrong. :smack:
I’m listening to Rick Roberts on the way home, and there was an abduction and molestation of an elementary school girl a few days ago. Tragic, appalling, and I hope the fucker fries.
Rick has a tidbit (which I found on his website) that if you call in with your zip code, he will let you know how many registered sex offenders there are you in your area - all part of the public record, as we’ve got a Megan’s Law kind of thing in place where convicted sex offenders must register with law enforcement, and that information is freely available to the public.
So he looks up the number of registered sex offenders in the zip where the abduction occurred - about 150ish. Then someone calls in and says the area where it occurred was actually the border between two zip codes, so he looks up that one as well - about 130ish.
So we’re up to 280ish registered sex offenders in that area, about 225 of which are considered “serious” (as opposed to other classifications such as “an immediate threat” or “not a threat,” or something along those lines - “serious” being the middle classification).
So out of 280 potential sex offenders (that we know of), a molestation occurred. (I will also concede that more molestations occur than are actually reported to authorities, and more pedophiles exist than have committed crimes, but I’m trying to work with known quantities for the sake of argument.)
It’s horrible. It’s tragic. I hope the fucker comes to justice.
Are odds any better or worse for other kinds of crime? You hear a lot about recurrence rates among child molesters, which seems to be the driving force behind these laws. So is 1 out of 280 any better or worse than other kinds of crimes? If the odds of having your lawn gnomes kidnapped were, say, one in 50, should we start talking about having a lawn gnome stealer registry? I mean, it’s more likely to happen then a child molestation, right? Or even if we go by the actual number of incidents, robberies and assaults are probably more prevalent than child molestations (and I’m sure someone will give me cites to correct me if I’m wrong), but for the sake of argument let’s say that there are more assaults with a deadly parasol, and let’s also say that parasol attackers have just as high a recurrence rate as child molesters. (Are there any other statistics out there about recurrence rates among other types of crimes? It seems to me that sexual assault, robbery or other such crimes that are easier and just as tempting to commit would be at least more likely to reoccur.) Does that mean all people who once used a parasol should be required to register with the police? What next, big scarlet letters around their necks? (I know, useless hyperbole, so sue me.)
I’m no fan of these Megan’s Laws. I’ll of course agree that child molestation is wrong and that the people who commit these crimes deserve severe punishment and psychological help, but I don’t agree with these registries. I know there have been a million threads already about these laws, and I’m sure this will turn into another one, but what I’m looking for is statistics and a justification of why, when compared with other crimes, this one warrants a public registry when others do not. Is it just a public hot-button (“Won’t someone please think of the children?!?!”) or is there a statistically justified public threat here that is set apart in some way from other public threats? And the inevitable follow-up questions: do these registries work in reducing the number of molestations; do they help in any way to cure child molesters; and/or do they unjustly increase the stigma and/or punishment of those child molesters who have already “done their time” because of a previous crime?
And if I’ve gotten any of my facts wrong, somebody correct me. (Wait, I didn’t need to tell you that, did I? )