Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NC - Opinion: Sex offender application should broaden the spectrum

Opinion
Original Article

We agree! If a sex offender registry is created and "constitutional," then we should also have an online registry for all ex-felons.

11/18/2013

By CORY SPIERS

There seems to be a mobile application for everything today.

There is an app developed by the North Carolina Department of Justice that allows you to find out how many registered sex offenders are within 1 to 5 miles of where you are standing at any given time, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper visited the State Bureau of Investigation office Tuesday to promote the free app, which has been downloaded more than 40,000 times since its release in January 2012, according to the article.

Should people know where sex offenders are? Perhaps; however, there is no such app for locating people who have committed other crimes in the past.

I believe that if there is such transparency for one group, that transparency should apply to all.

In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted a 2007 study that measured the rates of recidivism among criminals on a national scale.

Recidivism, according to the report, is measured by “criminal acts that resulted in the re-arrest, reconviction or return to prison with or without a new sentence during a three-year period following the prisoner’s release.”

According to the report, only 2.5 percent of those arrested for rape were arrested for another rape within three years.

Conversely, the released prisoners who had the highest rates of recidivism included robbers, burglars, larcenists and motor vehicle thieves, which all measured at a recidivism rate of more than 70 percent each within three years of their release.

By that logic, it would seem that state residents should be just as concerned with other types of criminals, who are more likely to be repeat offenders.

According to sexoffender.ncdoj.gov, there are currently 37 registered sex offenders in Watauga County. By the national trends pointed out in the recidivism study, we can expect roughly one of those offenders to be arrested again in three years.

In no way should sexual offenses be condoned or taken lightly, but where is the onus on other crimes?

The biggest focus from things like this app should ultimately be on criminals who are likely to reoffend.

We put this thing in place because it’s more likely for a sex offender to reoffend than other offenders,” Cooper said in an interview with the Winson-Salem Journal.
- And that statement is simply not true.  Ex-sex offenders have the second lowest recidivism rate of all other ex-felons, except murderers.

That statement does not add up to the previously mentioned data regarding recidivism.

I will keep this app off of my phone, for now. That is, until the Department of Justice decides to factor in violent criminals, who on the surface appear to present just as much of a serious threat to our safety in the long run.