http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/1005/26edoffend.html Not all sex offenders require same treatment By JAMES STARK Published on: 10/26/05 State Reps. Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons) and David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) are showing interest in making Georgia's sex offender laws the toughest in the nation. There has been much national and local attention lately on the protection of children from violent predators in particular. I would plead with our legislators to base any proposed legislation on research in order to make it more effective and cost-efficient. Please be aware that under the rubric of "sex offenders" is a wide variety of people. Some reoffend, but very few. It is not true that all or even most sex offenders will reoffend. Bureau of Justice statistics found that 5.3 percent of sex offenders released from prison were rearrested for a new sex crime within three years. Karl Hanson and other researchers have found that 27 percent were charged or convicted of new sex offenses over the first 20 years after release. Treatment has been found to reduce that relapse by up to 40 percent. We need to distinguish dangerous sexual offenders from those who pose little risk to community safety. Treatment providers and probation officers assess newly released offenders to determine their risk levels. We can then provide different treatment and management strategies. That is far better than treating and managing all probationers the same. Aggressive notification could be reserved for the most dangerous of these. We need national and state models for registration and notification that take these levels into consideration. There simply is no evidence that community notification prevents sex crimes, reduces sex offense recidivism or increases community safety. Perhaps electronic monitoring could be considered for those at high risk levels. Recent high-profile cases do not represent the typical sex offender. Sexual abduction and murder are very rare. Most children who are molested (80-90 percent) are abused by family or acquaintances. I would urge our legislators not to require lifetime registration for juvenile offenders. Only 8 percent of those reoffend. We need to adopt a multitiered approach to aggressive notification and restrictions the more restrictive of those for people at the higher levels of risk. We are not a country of retribution. Together, we can protect our children and move their abusers toward true rehabilitation.