Tracking violent ex-cons: Registries grow, but do they work?

JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) 10/29 — In the desperate hours after a University of Toledo student disappeared while bicycling this summer, her friends scanned the state’s list of sex offenders and started knocking on doors. But their search didn’t lead them down the road to an ex-con who had spent time in prison for abducting another woman — because he had never been convicted of a sex crime.

sierah-joughin-in-undated-photo-provided-by-sheila-vaculik-ap  Sierah Joughin

Now the family of Sierah Joughin, who investigators say was abducted and killed by a neighbor with a hidden past, wants Ohio lawmakers to follow the lead of at least seven other states that track all sorts of violent offenders.

“If you’re trying to get back in society and you’re trying to be a productive member of society, you have to own what you did,” said Joughin’s mother, Sheila Vaculik. “You’re there for a reason, and you put yourself there for a reason.”

The emotional pull of crimes that spawned sex offender registries in the 1990s has brought about these more publicly accessible lists that keep tabs on a wider range of offenders — from murderers to meth users — once they’re out of prison. A nationwide review by The Associated Press found that such registries have grown over the past decade and that more proposals are being considered.

Backers say helping people know more about their neighbors will make them safer. Yet studies have shown offender registries do little to reduce crime.

Anti-domestic violence groups in states that have considered expanded registries suggest that money spent to maintain them would be better used on programs to stop violence before it happens. Keeping sex offender lists updated alone costs well over $1 million each year for many states, a price partially covered by fees offenders must pay.

Some researchers contend the lists, searchable online, can prevent offenders from finding jobs and homes, making it more likely they’ll offend again.

“When someone comes out of prison, we want them to be successful,” said Alissa Ackerman, a criminal justice professor at the University of Washington. “We want them to be part of society. Putting people on registries like this makes it next to impossible to do.”

Vincent Brumley, who was released from an Illinois prison in 2015 after serving 27 years for his role with two others who kidnapped and killed a man, said few employers will give him a chance after he tells them of his past and they learn he’s on the state’s registry.

“That’s all they see me as,” he said. “They don’t know what I was convicted of, or if I was guilty. I did my time. Why hold me back?”

Some registries track only people convicted of murder or violent crimes against children. Montana first expanded its list to add non-sex offenders in 1995 and now includes those convicted of murder, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and arson.

Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Virginia require at least some violent offenders to register, while Florida has a list for “habitual offenders” convicted of felonies that aren’t sex crimes.

The online registry in Kansas logs 1,600 views each day and generates a steady stream of tips, mostly involving sex and drug offenders, said John Gaunt, who oversees it for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

The laws force offenders to keep their whereabouts updated for anywhere from 10 years to life, depending on the severity of the crime.

Ohio lawmakers looking into the idea have not settled on a plan and say they want to make sure law enforcement backs it.

Pennsylvania and Texas are among states that have debated establishing a domestic violence registry within the past few years.

A few registries go beyond violent crimes. Illinois, Tennessee and Minnesota have them for meth-related crimes, while Ohio has one for people convicted of drunken driving at least five times.

“In this day and age, you can’t have enough information about people coming into your lives,” said New York state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, who was unsuccessful in several attempts to establish a violent offender registry.

The increasing number of offender registries can be traced to a basic need to control threats around us, said Molly Wilson, a law professor at St. Louis University.

“The data doesn’t bear it out that the registries make people safer, but it does make them happier,” she said.

In a 2013 paper for the Louisiana Law Review, Wilson cited studies showing that registries seemed to have little effect on reported rapes or whether a convicted person commits crimes again.

She cited a 1995 study that found no significant difference between the recidivism rates for sex offenders who were required to register and those who weren’t. Another study looked at 10 states and found registration and notification laws seemed to have no predictable effect on the incidence of rape: six of the states saw no change in rape rates, three showed a decrease in rapes and one saw an increase.

Even Brumley, the Illinois ex-convict, said he can understand why states would want a registry for serial child molesters or other repeat violent offenders.

“I’d want to know who’s around my kids,” said Brumley, who lives in Naperville, a Chicago suburb.

Prosecutors plan to pursue the death penalty against James Worley, the ex-con who has pleaded not guilty to killing Joughin, 20, and is scheduled to go on trial next year. He and his attorneys have declined to comment.

Vaculik doubts a registry would have saved her daughter, but thinks it might protect someone else and remove some of the fear her neighbors now have in their everyday lives.

“That’s not how I want to live,” she said. “But I do want to be informed.”

___

Associated Press researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

https://www.apnews.com/12308b44602e43dead432b8f468c6c13/Tracking-violent-ex-cons:-Registries-grow,-but-do-they-work?

Posted in: Crime & Criminals, Criminal Registries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × four =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.