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In addition, sex offender laws are predicated on the widespread assumption that most people convicted of sex offenses will continue to commit such crimes if given the opportunity.
Some politicians cite recidivism rates for sex offenders that are as high as 80-90 percent.
In fact, most (three out of four) former sex offenders do not reoffend and most sex crimes are not committed by former offenders.
Patty Wetterling, a prominent child safety advocate who founded the Jacob Wetterling Foundation after her son was abducted in 1989, recently told Human Rights Watch, I based my support of broad-based community notification laws on my assumption that sex offenders have the highest recidivism rates of any criminal.
But the high recidivism rates I assumed to be true do not exist.
It has made me rethink the value of broad-based community notification laws, which operate on the assumption that most sex offenders are high-risk dangers to the community they are released into.
Even assuming some public safety benefit, however, the laws can be reformed to reduce their adverse effects without compromising that benefit.
Promoting public safety by holding offenders accountable and by instituting effective crime prevention measures is a core governmental obligation.The report was written by Sarah Tofte with the assistance of Jamie Fellner, director of the US Program, who also edited the report. Patrick Vinck, director of the Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations at the Human Rights Center, University of California-Berkeley, tabulated the data for Human Rights Watch's study of North Carolina's online sex offender registry.Ashoka Mukpo, US Program Associate, and US Program interns Anjali Balasingham, Andrea Barrow, Madeline Gressel, and Kari White provided important research assistance.Ashoka Mukpo, Grace Choi, and Andrea Holley provided invaluable production assistance. Over the past decade, several horrific crimes like Jessica's murder have captured massive media attention and fueled widespread fears that children are at high risk of assault by repeat sex offenders.We want to acknowledge our special gratitude to Patty Wetterling, Alisa Klein, Jim Rensel, Nancy Daley, Dr. Levenson for providing guidance and insights in helping us to shape the research and writing of this report. Politicians have responded with a series of laws, including the sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws that are the subject of this report.