While I was pleased the Sun Journal published information on sex offender recidivism, I would urge anyone interested in the debate on sex-offender management to visit the Web site from which those numbers were obtained, www.csom.org. There is a document on that site titled “Myths and facts about sex offenders” that I recommend.
Often in public policy, it seems decisions are based upon the myths. Information in the article is somewhat deceiving. Sex offenders are a diverse group. There are subgroups who have a very high recidivism rate and subgroups with a very low recidivism rate.
Often policy decisions are made that apply to all sex offenders. Those make sense concerning the high-risk offenders, but are less useful when applied to the lower-risk offender. Fortunately, the Department of Corrections has done a better job over the last few years of targeting more services to higher risk offenders while they are incarcerated and closer supervision of these high risk offenders when they are on probation.
I think the Web site would be more useful to the public if there were a risk assessment included in the information, as there is in some other states.
Ultimately the Web site is one part of a system for reducing the risk sex offenders pose. This system is scattered among a number of state agencies and private service providers. Any re-examination of the Web site would better serve the public if it were part of a comprehensive look at the total system.
Scott Efland, Auburn