Public Policy Should Be Based on Facts and Science

Reproduced below is the summary of a legal filing from a senior research scientist who specializes in people convicted of sexual offenses. The filing in a lawsuit against an unconstitutional California law includes several significant conclusions supported by science.

Among those conclusions:

  • Most sexual offenders are never re-convicted of another sexual offense.
  • Contrary to the popular notion that sexual offenders remain at risk of reoffending through their lifespan, the longer offenders remain offence-free in the community, the less likely they are to re-offend sexually.
  • Offenders who are classified as low-risk by Static-99R pose no more risk of recidivism than do ”individuals who have never been arrested for a sex-related offense but have been arrested for some other crime.”
  • Registries monitoring sex offenders are a waste of resources that could be better spent on prevention.

Here is the summary:

US District Court – Northern District of California

John Doe et al. vs. Kamala D. Harris et al. 

Civil Case No. C 12 5713

DECLARATION OF R. KARL HANSON

I, R. Karl Hanson, declare as follows: 

1. I am a Senior Research Scientist at Public Safety Canada. Throughout my career, I have studied recidivism, with a focus on sex offenders. I discuss in this declaration key findings and conclusions of research scientists, including myself, regarding recidivism rates of the general offender population and sex offenders in particular. The information in this declaration is based upon my personal knowledge and on sources of the type which researchers in my field would rely upon in their work. If called upon to testify, I could and would competently testify thereto.

Summary of Declaration

2. My research on recidivism shows the following:

a. Recidivism rates are not uniform across all sex offenders. Risk of re-offending varies based on well-known factors and can be reliably predicted by widely used risk assessment tools such as the Static-99 and Static-99R, which are used to classify offenders into various risk levels. See 14-19.

b. Once convicted, most sexual offenders are never re-convicted of another sexual offence. See 19.

c. First-time sexual offenders are significantly less likely to sexually re-offend than are those with previous sexual convictions. See 19.

d. Contrary to the popular notion that sexual offenders remain at risk of reoffending through their lifespan, the longer offenders remain offence-free in the community, the less likely they are to re-offend sexually. Eventually, they are less likely to reoffend than a non-sexual offender is to commit an “out of the blue” sexual offence. See 19-41.

i. Offenders whose arc classified as low-risk by Static-99R pose no more risk of recidivism than do ” individuals who have never been arrested for a sex-related offense but have been arrested for some other crime. See 26-30,36.

ii. After 10-14 years in the community without committing a sex offense, medium-risk offenders pose no more risk of recidivism than individuals who have never been arrested for a sex-related offense but have been arrested for some other crime. See 30, 34.

iii. After 17 years without a new arrest for a sex-related offense, high risk offenders pose no more risk of committing a new sex offense than do individuals who have never been arrested for a sex-related offense but have been arrested for some other crime. See 30, 35

3. Based on my research, my colleagues and I recommend that rather than considering all sexual offenders as continuous, lifelong threats, society will be better served when legislation and policies consider the cost/benefit break point after which resources spent tracking and supervising low-risk sexual offenders are better re-directed toward the management of high-risk sexual offenders, crime prevention, and victim services. See 39-42.

Published by nufearless

Nebraskans Unafraid is committed to making our communities safer by ensuring that lawmakers and policymakers do not support laws that cause homelessness, joblessness and damage to families.

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