Press Releases

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      Contact: Shana Rowan

November 14, 2012                                                       914-393-1197/ shana.rowan@usafair.org           

 

 

Family members of registered sex offenders launch organization to advocate for reform of registry laws –

Focus to be on public education through the media

 

 

            Parents, spouses and partners of registered sex offenders have announced the launch of USA FAIR, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation based in Washington, DC that will work to reform the sex offender registry through public education with a focus on the news media.  FAIR stands for Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry.

According to Shana Rowan, the new group’s Executive Director, “Our first priority will be to dispel the myth of high sex offender recidivism, which is the foundational falsehood of America’s sex offender registry laws.  Sex offenders actually have one of the lowest rates of recidivism of all offender groups in the criminal justice system, even though most people believe the opposite is true.”

“Virtually every broad-based contemporary study conducted by law enforcement agencies has found that sex crime recidivism varies between 3% and 15% depending on the type of offender and offense,” said Rowan.  USA FAIR has published a compilation of recidivism studies on their website at usafair.org.

Rowan cited a 2010 survey from the United States Department of Justice, which reported that 72% of the American public believes that sex offender recidivism is over 50% and that 33% believe that it is over 75%.  USA FAIR blames the media for this ignorance, citing the same DOJ survey, which found that 74% of the public primarily received their information about sex offenders from the news media.

“The news media’s focus on high profile tragic crimes that involve the abduction and murder of a child has painted all people required to register with the broad brush of the worst offenders.  Most registrants have nothing in common with these heinous offenders, yet too often all registrants are referred to in the media as being “monsters” or “sexual predators”, when only a small percentage of registrants have been designated as predators.”

Rowan raised a recent incident that occurred on the October 9th episode of “The View” in which during a conversation about restrictions imposed on sex offenders during Halloween, Whoopi Goldberg said, ““How about putting a sign on their door that says a real monster lives here.”

“Journalists and talk show hosts need to stop the one-size-fits-all approach to the registry.  Sex offenders are a very diverse population, which runs from serious offenders to those convicted of misdemeanors.  The vast majority of registrants are now law-abiding citizens who committed their offense years or even decades ago and who want nothing more than to get on with their lives and provide for their families.  Media personalities need to stop spreading irrational sex offender panic.  We need to end the hate speech, “ said Rowan.

Rowan concluded by stating that it would be USA FAIR’s mission to tell the many success stories of law abiding former offenders as well as the “dispiriting” stories of how the registry is causing significant collateral damage to the family members of registrants, including their children, whom she called “the hidden victims of the registry laws.”

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