In 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly directed the state’s Sentencing Commission to conduct an in-depth examination of Connecticut’s policies regarding the “assessment, management, treatment, and sentencing of sex offenders.” The two-year study concluded near the end of 2017. As a result of its findings, the Connecticut Sentencing Commission officially recommended a shift from offense-based registration as a sex offender to a system based on the risk an offender poses to the community at large.
The recommendation was formalized as House Bill 5578 in the most recent session of the General Assembly, but the measure never made it past the Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers, however, say that the proposal may have merits, but the discussion is better suited for the longer legislative session next year.
Among the study’s most important findings was the idea that the current laws and guidelines regarding sex offender registration are largely based on decades-old assumptions that have been proven questionable or demonstrably false. According to the Sentencing Commission, three primary myths persist.
Myth #1: Most Sex Offenders Offend Again
The sex offender registry was developed on the concept that public knowledge of a sex offender’s whereabouts would prevent the offender from reoffending in the future. In fact, some local ordinances have directly stated that the recidivism rate for sex offenders is “alarmingly high.” The reality, however, is that at least two Connecticut studies have found that less than 5 percent of convicted sex offenders are re-arrested for a sex crime within five years of their release. This rate is among the lowest among any class of criminal offenders.
Myth #2: Treatment Does Not Work
The same studies that dispel the myth of recidivism also provide a counterargument to the idea that treating sex offenders is a waste of time. Convicted sex offenders are almost always to undergo various types of psychological, psychiatric, and emotional treatment to address the cause of their behavior. The low rate of re-arrests suggests strongly that the approach is clearly working.
Myth #3: “The Concept of ‘Stranger Danger’”
There is a substantial research available that shows that most instances of sexual assault—including those against women and children—are perpetrated by acquaintances and relatives. It is extremely rare for sex crimes to be committed by total strangers. This means that teachers, coaches, members of the clergy, doctors, and babysitters present a greater risk to children than does a convicted sex offender who is a stranger.
The study concluded that the most effective way to prevent recidivism among convicted sex offenders is to allow them to find gainful employment and suitable housing. Under the current registration laws, many offenders struggle to reintegrate into their communities. The commission’s proposal aims to make reintegration more effective, hopefully leading to even lower rates of reoffending.
Contact Us for Help
If you have been accused of a sex crime, the allegation alone has the power to destroy your life. Contact an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney to discuss your available options today. Call 860-290-8690 for a free consultation.