The bad, the worse, and the despicable

11/21 UPDATE:

They now have an addendum at the beginning of the story. This is a step in the right direction, but it still contains misleading and irrelevant material, which I wrote to Ms. Umphress at Amberly Place yesterday and will write Ms. Day and her news editor about. This is what they put. What they wrote is in bold print here. The parenthetical part is what I will write them.
According to the Department of Justice, the recidivism rate for sex offenders hovers around five percent after three years and 24 percent after 15 years.  
[ These numbers come from a specific study. Studies are done on specific groups of individuals, and anytime there is a reoffense, it increases the total for the group. So if the number of reoffenses for the group at year three is ten and by year five there are fourteen, the GROUP reoffense rate is higher at year five than it was at year three.
But for individuals, it is the opposite. For every individual who does not reoffend, each year he remains offense-free lowers his risk of reoffense. One study showed that even the very highest risk individuals, somewhere between their tenth and fifteenth year of living offense free in the community, had a risk level equal to someone in the general population. And that is the case for those who started out low risk from the beginning.]
According to SMART – The office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking, for pedophiles – it shows the highest rate for boy molesters after 15 years was 35 percent and for girls molesters, 16 percent.  A study conducted by Harvard Medical School shows recidivism rates between ten and 50 percent for pedophiles.
[I presume they mean those with male victims and those with female victims, not boys and girls who molest. I don’t know if those figures are accurate, nor if the ones for the Harvard study with pedophiles are accurately reported.]
News 11 first reported that 99 percent of child sex offenders reoffend, after an interview with Diane Umphress, of Amberly’s Place. Umphress clarified her comment by stating that  99 percent of pedophiles cannot be cured, meaning they will not lose their urge for children. Umphress says this number comes from a recent training done by National Children’s Advocacy Center in Washington D.C.
[They are using a very narrow definition of ‘cured’ and ignoring the fact that many with pedophilia have never molested a child.]
Exact re-arrest rates are not known, because these sex crimes against children often go unreported. Amberly’s Place reports only one in nine children ever report abuse. 
[This is totally irrelevant. Since approximately 95% of new sexual crime [p.15] is committed by those with no previous sexual crime convictions, unreported offenses have little to no impact on reoffense rates. Indeed, if every sexual crime were reported, there is no evidence that the rate of reoffense would alter in the slightest. The very reason that so much sexual assault goes unreported is that it is committed by those with family or other close connections to the victims, those who have most likely never entered the criminal justice system at all. Simply put, it has no bearing.]



By Sandy . . . On November 14, 2019, Jenny Day, a young reporter with Channel 11, KYMA, in Yuma, Arizona, assisted by a victims’ advocacy center in Yuma called Amberly’s Place, chose to write and have published a piece called, “Released to Reoffend: News 11 investigates the sex offender next door.”

The reaction was swift. Comments were posted, every single one protesting the fake statistics and blatantly false and highly generalized statements the article contained. One of those who commented has created a petition on asking that Ms. Day correct her false reporting. NARSOL normally does not promote petitions but is making an exception in this case.

The first letter emailed to Ms. Day, as far as we know, was written by Fred, a longtime NARSOL volunteer and our webmaster. It is also, as far as we know, the only one to receive a response, pleasant and congenial, from Ms. Day.

Fred’s was followed by others, and not all from the NARSOL family of advocates.

According to Twitter, where this became a prominent topic, advocates across the country took offense at Ms. Day’s article and tweeted out their indignation and their responses to her and to her bosses.

NARSOL’s letter to Ms. Day focused on the need for accurate information and the responsibility of the journalist in today’s society as a purveyor of that information. It offered its resources to her should she choose to write another more fact-based piece on the topic.

NARSOL’s affiliate organization in Arizona, Arizonians for Rational Sexual Offense Laws, took special exception to Ms. Day’s piece. They were motivated not only by the fact that this is taking place in their state but also by a piece of information about a legislator quoted in Ms. Day’s article. According to the piece, this legislator said that he does not support those with sexual crime convictions being included in criminal justice reform, but this same Arizona representative has spoken at AZRSOL meetings and is showing interest in why registrants should not be excluded, and AZRSOL’s directors have been invited to present at the representative’s ad hoc committee on why registrants should be included in reform initiatives.

The letter that they wrote is not to Ms. Day but to Mr. Ernesto Romero, the news director at KYMA and is focused on providing sources to help correct the statistical errors that the article contains.

We are accustomed to flamboyant and sensationalist headlines designed as click-bait; we are accustomed to one-sided pieces, containing only whatever negative can be printed about those on sexual offense registries; we have become used to inflated and incorrect statistics and claims against those on the registry. Seldom, however, if ever, have we seen a piece so filled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations and out-and-out fabrications such as this one is.

Sandy Rozek

Written by 

Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.