“Please print a balanced piece,” NARSOL asks WKRC–and they did!

By Sandy . . . February 12, WKRC, Cincinnati, aired and ran a piece by David Winter about what they imply is a failure to protect children based on law enforcement’s handling of residence restriction laws for people with a historic sexual offense conviction. There was immediate consternation among NARSOL’s affiliates, and we wrote and sent the following to the news director of WKRC, Timothy Geraghty.

I read this piece with interest as I and the nonprofit organization I represent—the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL)–have a keen interest in both the safety and protection of children and the lawful and evidence-supported management of people who have convictions for a prior sexual offense.

I kept waiting for it to get to the other side of the story and display even a modicum of balanced reporting, but sadly, it did not. What is the other side? That decades of evidence verify one thing in regard to residence restrictions: They are ineffective in protecting children from sexual harm, a stance supported by ATSA—the Association for the Treatment and Prevention of Sexual Abuse.

ATSA supports evidence-based public policy and practice. Research consistently shows that residence restrictions do not reduce sexual reoffending or increase community safety. In fact, these laws often create more problems than they solve . . . homelessness, transience . . . Housing instability can exacerbate risk factors for reoffending. Therefore, in the absence of evidence that these laws accomplish goals of child protection, ATSA does not support the use of residence restrictions as a feasible strategy for sex offender management.

A most important piece of this issue, and one that would improve this news story’s display of fair presentation of the facts, is why residence restrictions don’t protect children.

The idea behind the restrictions is this: If those who have committed these crimes against children in the past are kept from living too close to where children congregate, those children will be safe. It does seem logical.

However, IF people on the registry—those who have committed these offenses and a host of other non-child-related crimes—were the ones abusing children today, it would still be a foolish proposal. Is a registrant living 1,001 feet from a school safe while one living 999 feet is not? Do people on the registry not drive cars? Ride busses?

Why IF? Because people on the registry are not those who are sexually abusing today’s children.

As shown in this graph depicting information from the Department of Juvenile Justice, between 94% and 98% of those who have sexually abused children are the family members, peers, and other acquaintances, generally authority figures, of the victims–not an unknown person on the registry who has moved into the community.

In the largest and most comprehensive sexual recidivism study ever done, the Department of Justice discovered that after three years, only 5.3% of people with previous sexual offense convictions were rearrested for a new sexual offense, and only 2.2% of those were against a child.

Mr. Winter, in his berating Cincinnati in particular for the lax enforcement of state residence restrictions, praises other Ohio areas, writing, “Word seems to be getting around about cities, and their attorneys, that are tougher on people listed on the sex offender registry.” If he had investigated what some other states are doing, he might have discovered that Kansas law prohibits residence restrictions for the entire state for post-supervision registrants. The page on their DOC website pertaining to this begins with this statement: “Housing restrictions appear to be based largely on three myths that are repeatedly propagated by the media: 1) all sex offenders reoffend; 2) treatment does not work; and 3) the concept of “stranger danger.” Research does not support these myths, but there is research to suggest that such policies may ultimately be counterproductive.”

NARSOL asks that WKRC broadcast and write a follow-up piece informing their readers of the facts presented here. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for additional information.

I was pleasantly surprised when Mr. Geraghty contacted me very quickly, soon followed by emails and a phone call from David Winter, the journalist and news anchor. The result was interviews with Brenda and, as he wanted to interview someone on the registry, NARSOL board member Philip Kaso.

The result is here.

Well done, all!

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.

14 Thoughts to ““Please print a balanced piece,” NARSOL asks WKRC–and they did!”

  1. AvatarPhilip

    Well done, Sandy. We appreciate you more than you know.

  2. AvatarScott Matzeder

    Thank you Sandy, excellent Education for the Uneducated. Its so sad that so many people are ignorant to the Truth, and Sex Offenders do not get any help from the Media.

  3. AvatarDustin

    I wrote to Winter, asking if he had looked into the number of registrants living near the schools and playgrounds in his article that were arrested for a new sex offense. He replied he asked but was not “satisfactorily answered.” (I take that to mean “None”). He also mentioned several follow up stories, I’m guessing due to Sandy’s letter. Please keep it up.

  4. AvatarGrace

    I think this is great but a follow up letter campaign wouldn’t hurt either

  5. AvatarTerri Grasela

    Tennessee is making it harder and harder on registrants and now they are passing a bill to add 5 more years, a total of 15 years, after all probation and parole is completed to even be able to request getting off the registry. Maybe someone could send them a letter. I believe they are testing the waters to see if anyone files a lawsuit and if no one does, they will keep adding more and more. Mark Pody is a sponsor of this bill.

  6. AvatarWilliam Hart

    Thank you Sandy for our voice, a voice of reason.

  7. AvatarCherokeeJack

    Most people do not even check the registry anymore and I was not having any problems until the Nextdoor app came out and people started telling neighbors to check the registry. After 33 years of having somewhat peace, I now have neighbors wanting to pitchfork me and people I counted as friends have shunned me, not wanting someone to think they associate with me.
    But “they” say the registry is not punishment.

  8. AvatarTS

    Well done @NARSOL and others who wrote to them for getting them to revisit this story and topic. Now, send this up to Gov DeWine in Columbus, OH for serious consideration for local, state, and fed level considerations (he was a US Rep for a while) on this topic overall, e.g., registry, etc. If you can reform OH on this topic, which is considered a battleground political state every four years, then there are possibilities of extending it to other states as well as govts.

  9. AvatarBrian Wittman

    Thank you so much sandy for your work in bringing true facts to their attention.

  10. AvatarJorge

    THANK YOU Sandy ! We sincerely appreciate the your hard work.

  11. AvatarJeremy from Indiana

    Kudos to Mr Winter for being a true journalist. When presented with facts, he updated his story in a fair, unbiased manner. Unfortunately, we’ll probably never see him advance in his career now because of this piece. Saying anything positively about us is professional suicide.

  12. AvatarEd

    Great catch and response; unfortunately, once the initial headline was written, the cat was out of the bag – readers had their confirmation bias satisfied and probably didn’t read the follow-up. The people who need their minds changed are the ones who tune out after the initial headline and article, because they already “know” the answer.

    It would be ideal if NARSOL could find a way to prevent these one-sided articles in the first place, so each article/story is written from the outset with the right, balanced information. Only then will the tide turn. Right now, the equivalent of political negative advertising is not near being matched by fact-based “counterprogramming.”

  13. AvatarJim

    The most positive thing we can all look at is how incredibly fast the United States of America is imploding on itself! Soon the sex offender registration industry will be the very last thing Americans will be concerned about! Soon they will be trying to survive just like us, just in a very worse way than we have ever imagined.

  14. AvatarThomas Koles

    A couple things that bother me. 1) all sex offenders are not felony rapists, child molesters, child porn distributors and the like. Those kinds of people deserve to be in jail. A 4th degree misdemeanour sex offence is not a felony but get thrown in the same sex offender classification. 2). I was never read my Miranda rights and no one seems to care. 3) Still don’t know what Narsol does or what exactly has changed.

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