Expert Says Current Law Will Only Increase Harm to the Community

In Confronting the Lie – Part Three, University of Nebraska-Omaha criminal justice professor Lisa Sample, Ph.D., says she wants to make sure policy-makers base their decisions about sex offenders on science. And the science says that the vast majority of sex offenders do not re-offend. Endlessly punishing them and their families, especially by putting them all on a public shaming website, will lead to more — not less — re-offending.

Research by Dr. Sample’s colleague, Ryan Spohn, Ph.D., bears that out: Sex offender re-offense rates in Nebraska are extremely low — but they went up after the enactment of LB 285 of 2009, the law that put them all on the shaming website.

Asked what she would recommend to Nebraska policy-makers who are sincerely interested in public safety, Dr. Sample said:

  • Take people who do not pose a risk of re-offense off the public shaming website and bring back risk assessments.
  • Don’t enact laws that prevent former offenders from having jobs, housing, good family and community connections because those are the very things that keep them accountable and free of re-offending.
  • Don’t confuse news media coverage of a horrible crime with a complete picture of the situation. Legislating to the extreme horrifying instance is like legislating based on something you saw in a movie.

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