Sunday, April 20, 2014

Notice: Two new articles from Once Fallen now online

There are two new articles now available online at Once fallen:

http://www.oncefallen.com/travel.html

Article 1: Travel Issues and the Registrant

and---

http://www.oncefallen.com/recidivismchart.html

Recidivism Chart, summarizing 33 American recidivism studies. Also, if you know of an American study that could be added to my chart that contains sexual rearrest and reconviction rates, let me know.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

R.I.P., Rev. C. David Hess (a.k.a., "The Parson")

I am saddened by the news that long-time reform activist, the Reverend David Hess of NY State, has passed away.

[Read one of Rev. Hess's final letters of advocacy at USA FAIR, written just days before his death]

I can't write a memorial as well for Rev. Hess as I did for Mary Duval; I only conversed with Rev. Hess a few times over the years. I met him on the old sexcriminals.com site way back in 2004 (ancient times as far as the sex offender reform movement is concerned) and later at SOHopeful, where he was always known as "The Parson." He is one of the few people I know who had been in this fight longer than me. He was far more level-headed than I (no surprise), and gave encouragement at many times to people. He was a pastor, first and foremost, after all. 

I remember, however, the help he gave me after my first taste of real activism, back in December 2006, during my battle with the city of Cincinnati over increasing residency restriction laws. He was one of the first to praise my efforts. Back then I did not have the knowledge and know-how to add videos to the internet (or an internet connection), so Rev. Hess uploaded the video for me. 

Rev. Hess was a quiet voice, but was among the many silent heroes in the battle against tough-on-crime legislation. We may not see everyone on the front lines of the cause, but that does not belittle the efforts of those like Rev. Hess, one of the early pioneers who helped mold and empower the reform movement in his own way. 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to Rev. Hess's sermon entitled "Lepers Among Us." He tells the story of a registrant who was turned away from a shelter because of his registry status during his sermon. 

Here is a brief bio of Hess from his Official Memorial page

David was born May 31, 1949 in Charleston, West Virginia. He was a graduate of Berea College and received a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. While in Seminary he pastored the Mt. Herman Baptist Church in Kutawa, Kentucky. Subsequently, he served the Glenwood Baptist Church in New Jersey, The First Baptist Church in Hamilton, NY and for 16 years the West Henrietta Baptist Church in New York, the longest pastorate in this nearly 200 year old congregation. Much loved and respected by his congregation and a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. He was active in the work of the American Baptist Churches of Rochester and Genesee Region and in many other local and statewide organizations. David served as the Chaplain of the West Henrietta Fire Department and the Henrietta Fire District. His love of music was widely recognized both within his congregation and also by his active role in the Eastman Rochester Chorus.

Home:Scottsville/West Henrietta, NY
Death Date:March 07, 2014
Birth Date:May 31, 1949
Age:64

Birthplace:Charleston, West Virginia

The BULLETIN from Rev. Hess's church, West Henrietta Baptist Church:

Our beloved Pastor David Hess succumbed to lung cancer on March 7th 2014 while a patient at the Wilmot Cancer Center of Strong Memorial Hospital.

David Hess has been the pastor of our church since April, 1998. He is a native West Virginian and  a graduate of Berea College. He has  received Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary ("When," he says, "it was a good seminary.")

He has served pastorates in Hamilton, NY; Glenwood, NJ; Kuttawa, KY.; and Carrolton, KY. When in college he served as a student summer missionary to Trinidad.

Rev. Hess also ran a website called "SO Hopeful of NY." This was Rev. Hess's mission as founder of SOHopeful NY. Below was the mission statement from SOHopeful NY. Back during those early days of the moment, there were not very many organizations fighting against tough-on-crime legislation. Now, we have a number of organizations like SOSEN, RSOL, WAR, USA Fair, and my own website to help continue the fight that the good Reverend believed in:

Our positions:

1. We want effective laws that prevent sex crimes against children and others.

2. We recognize that effective laws are based on facts, not mythology and false assumptions. Most sex offender laws are enacted to prevent the victimization of children and adults by former offenders and strangers. Such crimes are much more likely to be committed by other individuals. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 93% of children who are victims of sexual abuse are victimized by family members or acquaintances. 95% of those arrested for sex crimes in New York State have not previously been convicted of a sex offense and thus  are not listed on any registry. Contrary to mythology, most sex offenders do not repeat their crimes. According to a study by NY State Division of Criminal Justice Services, just 8% of registered sex offenders in New York State are arrested for a new sex offense within 8 years of the date of their initial registration. The sex offender registry must not over promise. It is powerless to prevent the vast majority of sex crimes which are committed in New York State. It may even serve to cloak the true danger from the public. (More on sex offender recidivism in New York State).

3. We recommend that New York return to the earlier version of its law where only the most dangerous offenders were posted on the Internet registry, and that low risk, non-contact, non-violent, one time offenders be dropped from the registry after ten years.  Public sex offender registries are becoming so large that the public cannot identify those who truly present a continuing danger. Furthermore, we recommend that a path be opened up for those deemed "higher risk" offenders to earn their way off the registry. (New York State reports that 89% of even those "high risk" offenders  (Level 3) are not arrested for a new sex crime within 8 years of their date of first registration.

 4. We are against laws that increase the danger to the public. For example, it is well known in the field of corrections that recidivism is less likely when former offenders have stable employment, stable housing, and stable family and social support. Many sex offender laws actually increase the danger by making it more difficult for former offenders to find stable employment and housing. Many sex offender laws also have a significant negative impact on former offenders’ families, especially their children. It is a fact that many former offenders can become productive, law abiding, tax paying members of their communities. Specifically, we urge that public registries not include information about former offenders’ employers and that no residency laws be enacted for those no longer on probation or parole. (More on residency laws).

5. We support the recommendations on "Effective Sex Offender Management in New York State” found in the NY Senate Crime, Crime Victims, and Corrections Committee’s 2010 Annual Report.

6. In particular, we urge that New York State not implement the Adam Walsh Act (AWA). It is not the case that the federal government always knows better than the states. AWA is much more expensive and less effective than what New York presently has.  It is with good reason that only 4 states have implemented AWA to this point. Many states rightly object to the cost of AWA. For example, the Texas Legislative Budget Board, an independent review agency for the state's legislature, published its legislative biennium-based report. Its summary offers this fiscal impact information from Texas:

"Both state and federal laws play a role in establishing sex offender registration and notification requirements. In 2006, the federal government passed the Adam Walsh Act establishing comprehensive sex offender registration and notification requirements that may be costly for states to implement. Early estimates indicate it could cost Texas $14 million a year to comply with the Act. The penalty for non-compliance in fiscal year 2010 would have been $2.2 million."

 Ohio was the first state to implement AWA. In addition to the cost of implementing AWA, the state also had to wage a costly legal battle in defense of the law. The ultimate result was that the Ohio Supreme Court found Ohio’s law to be unconstitutional.  (Update: NY has notified the U.S. Justice Dept. that NY will not comply with the Adam Walsh Act).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Even in small scale operations, law enforcement loves to inflate numbers

I love how Law Enforcement loves to inflate numbers to make it sound like they are doing more than they are actually doing, or that they need to justify the vast waste of our resources on our Predator Panic obsession.

One of the newest prevailing myths is that the Super Bowl is now a yearly magnet for roughly 100,000 "sex traffickers," or what we used to like to refer to as "prostitution." You see, we no longer refer to prostitutes as prostitutes, but "sex trafficking victims." Now granted, a small number of Americans are forced into doing really bad things, like forced prostitution. Many more do so for reasons such as supporting a habit or because it is fast and easy money. That 100,000 number is ridiculous, by the way, since the biggest Super Bowl in history had about 105,000 or so official attendees. That would be about one prostitute for damn near every Super Bowl attendee. But I digress.

I wanted to point out a couple of glaring issues and nagging questions with this "news article" regarding "sex trafficking" arrests from this year's Super Bowl. Now, I must address a caveat. I have already stated that forced sexual slavery is a bad thing. I'm merely taking note of the over-inflated stats surrounding this newest myth.

http://www.lifenews.com/2014/02/07/16-teens-rescued-from-sex-trafficking-in-super-bowl-sting/

16 Teens Rescued From Sex Trafficking in Super Bowl Sting
by Rachael Denhollander | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/7/14 11:34 AM

It’s the ugly side of the Super Bowl – the reality that America’s most popular sporting event is also likely America’s biggest day for sexual slavery. The day that sells the most tickets and the most coveted ad spaces is also the day that results in the most sales of little girls and women, at prices inflated to match the expense of the event. In a cruel outplay of the economic reality of “supply and demand,” it is not only local pimps who make a big profit – women and girls from all over the country are often brought in to the destination city to ensure that travelers for the big game have enough “side entertainment” available.

So now the "Super Bowl" is the "biggest day" for "sexual slavery." I find that hard to believe, given the headline stated a whopping 16 teens were "rescued." Compared to other large scale operations the police love to brag about, this seems like a relatively small number of fish for such a wide net.

As awareness of this evil phenomenon has grown, law enforcement officials and private organizations have been stepping up efforts to bring the activity to a halt, with Sunday’s event seeing perhaps the most intense and organized movement to date. In the six months leading up to the Super Bowl, the FBI partnered with both state and local law enforcement officials, more than 50 agencies in all, to create a coordinated effort not only in New Jersey, but throughout other states where pimps and their victims may be traveling from or through to supply the host city with enough “workers” to meet the demands of the big day.

Take note. OVER FIFTY law enforcement agencies took part in this massive operation in New Jersey, where this year's Super Bowl was played, as well as states other states where prostitutes and their handlers may be traveling from. Which states, I wonder? Note the six months of planning for this.

The operation included training hotel staff and other employees working in venues focused on hospitality or travel assistance to recognize warning signs of human trafficking and respond appropriately. The coordinated effort is the result of the FBI’s  “Innocence Lost” initiative, a program established in 2003 in conjunction with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for the purpose of combating the trafficking and sale of minors.

I'd love to know what the NCMEC actually does besides make millions for John Walsh and Ernie Allen. I guess now is the time to PROVIDE THE LINK to the "Innocence Lost." So in 10 years, they are averaging about "270 rescues" annually. It is interesting these are very small numbers given the constant claims of "100,000 to 300,000 are children are sex slaves in the US." Also, how much does this operation cost taxpayers, given the number of agencies involved?

It is an effort that made a critical impact for dozens of women and children this weekend, as the FBI announced yesterday that it rescued more than 50 women forced into prostitution, as well as 16 minors being sold into sexual slavery. Six of the minors were recovered in New Jersey, while the others were recovered in surrounding states from pimps known to traffic victims across state lines, some of whom claimed to have traveled specifically to provide sexual services during Super Bowl events. In addition, 45 pimps were arrested in the coordinated operation.

This is where the story gets interesting. So actually, only six minors were actually recovered in NJ at this time? Also, were 50+ women actually "forced" into prostitution? Or were some smart enough to play along with that assumption? Of course, where are the other 99,934 sex trafficking victims being sold at the Super Bowl? Are they in hiding?

Of the children recovered, some were as young as 13, and none older than 17. Many were runaways who had been lured by pimps seeking desperate children, while some others were children who had been reported missing by their families, and still others were foreign nationals.

Interesting how the ages are mentioned here. "No one older than 17." That's because anyone ages 18+ aren't considered minors. Also, it is hard to justify using the word "many" when referring to 16 people.

But the biggest disconnect is found not on this article, but the "Innocence Lost project" page. Notice the look of the "child" in the graphic:


To me, the child in the graphic looks like a child, not a teenager. This graphic is a powerful propaganda tool. It implies a literal sale of children, not teenagers, some of whom apparently weren't forced into the sex trade. Even the writer of this article reluctantly mentions that some were teens "reported missing" or "foreign nationals." It is interesting because they are distinct categories from the category of those "lured by pimps." I guess it is easier to allow people to assume force when indeed some chose this profession. I'm not saying it is right for teens to chose the sex trade, I'm merely saying lets talk about the subject honestly, and cut out the propaganda.

It will be a long road for the women and children recovered, however. Brainwashing, brutal beatings, and threats of harm to family members are the normal living environment for victims of human trafficking, making it difficult to truly escape and heal. Many victims return to their captors out of fear or guilt, or as a result of Stockholm Syndrome.

Clemmie Greenlee, a victim of human trafficking who has dedicated her life to reaching other women in her situation, explains, “There’s no such thing as we want to go back to these guys, we do not feel that no one — not even the law — can protect us, and we do not want to die. … You can say you’re going to save us, you can say we don’t have to worry about the pimps no more. We already know what power they have shown us. So either you come back to them, or you find out two days later they either got your grandmother or they just broke your little baby’s arm.” In some ways, getting the women out is the easy part – helping them rebuild shattered lives is a much longer, much more difficult process.

Not all prostitutes have "pimps." Some are really bad people. However, this part of the article is a classical appeal to emotion. The implication is that ALL sex trade workers are this way. It may be more common in "street level" prostitution, but not so much with the "escort" level. Many women work independently, or their lovers act as protectors. Granted, drug abuse tends to be a primary motivator for prostitution for many people, and drugs make people do crazy things. It can also be like what is described here, but it isn't universal.

CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE!

Yet every effort must begin somewhere.  Perhaps this weekend, for nearly 70 women and children, the first steps to healing and freedom have begun.

I'm not sure what the pro-life argument has to do with the article.

For those who suspect trafficking, contact your local police or the Department of Homeland Security at 1.866.347.2423. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center also staffs a toll-free 24-hour hotline at 888-373-7888.

I guess Homeland Security needs a job since they don't do anything else but sit around and look menacing.

It is interesting to note the semantics employed in this newest awareness campaign, with a very sexist connotation. Prostitutes are almost universally portrayed as "victims" of the sex trade, while "pimps" and, almost as frequently, "Johns" are almost universally portrayed as abusive men who are forcing women into sex. Some do, yes. But not all women are victims. Many choose the profession willingly. Not all men are abusive.

It is common to feel the need to portray the worst case scenarios to raise awareness of a serious but very rare issue. Unfortunately the rhetoric clouds truth and rational approaches to the issue at hand. Sex trafficking is the next great Predator Panic, and it can have a negative influence over already bad sex offender laws.

Monday, January 6, 2014

ANNOUNCEMENT: Voting for the 2013 Shiitake Awards Has Begun!

The finalists have been announced and it is time to start voting for the 2013 Shiitake Awards.

For those unfamiliar with the Shiitake Awards, this is a Once Fallen project that spotlights the dumbest and worst sex offender-related stories of the year, and each year I host an awards show in the spirit of the "Razzies" to showcase the worst news story, journalist, politician, law, and state of the year. It is a fun project, voting only takes a minute, and it showcases the worst 2013 had to offer.

To cast your vote for the 2013 Shiitake Awards, go here:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/R3K98V5

If you want to see the list of candidates for the 2013 Shiitake Awards before you vote, go here: http://shiitakeawards.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-2013-shiitake-awards-has-arrived.html

To listen to or download the podcast of the Selection Show from ReFORM-Radio, go here:
http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=29032&cmd=tc

Voting ends January 31, 2014.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An update on the “Beyond the Label” documentary and A Call to Action

In June 2012, two Registered Citizens were gunned down by a lifelong career criminal named Patrick Drum in Port Angeles, WA. Later that year, I decided to attempt to make this case into a documentary about vigilante violence.

In light of the article, “The Vigilante of Clallam County,” printed in The Atlantic, written by Lexi Pandell, I figured it was time I gave an update on the film.

For the past few months, I have devoted time trying to gather as much information on this case as possible. After fundraising for the money to travel to Port Angeles to collect more interviews and case info, I still lacked some information. I contacted Patrick Drum and even tried scheduling an interview. Unfortunately, the Washington DOC will not all me to film Drum, so I ran out of options. Drum saw my appearance on HLN and the cat was out of the bag, so to speak. I have reached a dead end with extracting information from Patrick Drum.

This year, Lexi Pandell’s article and the LMN show “I Killed my BFF” have each provided an interpretation of the events surrounding the murders of Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray. For the past year, I have also devoted time and research into the case. While the other articles give a pretty good story, it is still a biased and incomplete story. Both stories paint Drum as an “antihero,” a rough character you can still sympathize with because, well, he killed two Registered Citizens.

While I can help fill in the missing puzzle pieces, I cannot offer a complete documentary with the footage I have at the moment. So what I am looking to do is expand the film into a treatise on vigilantism against Registered Persons. That means more work, more interviews…and unfortunately, more money. I was in the process of making a video ad before this story broke, in fact, because being an ACTIVE activist costs money. Traveling, phone calls and stamps, equipment, and projects like this documentary all take resources, and as I previously stated, it is hard to get all I need on my meager income.

In the coming months, I will have to travel to Montgomery, AL to stop an anti-clustering law, as well as a possible trip to Coalinga, CA to join a planned protest. I need lighting for films, and most of all, the funds to keep my website up. This documentary is still needed, but I need more than the footage I have to give a quality product.

There is no better time for me to ask the people for their generous support of my organization than right now, during the Holiday Season. The Holiday Season is always followed up by the Legislative Season, so now is the time to offer your support before you overspend on the holidays.

Donations can be mailed to: Derek Logue, 2559 Eden Ave. #14, Cincinnati, OH 45219



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people: The Hitler quote controversy and its influence

Years ago (2006 to be exact), I wrote an article that was so controversial many on the sex offender reform movement shunned me. After all these years, the debate still rages over whether it is appropriate to compare sex offender laws to events and Nazi Germany. I still say yes.

What inspired me to write that particular article  in 2006 was the often used and debated passage attributed to Adolf Hitler. The quote reads as follows:

“The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."

As it turns out, Adolf Hitler did not attend this entire quote (the first sentence is a direct quote from Mein Kampf, I might add, but not the second sentence), although a fictional version of Hitler did pen the full quote. In 1999, a rabbi named Daniel Lapin wrote an essay in the style of CS Lewis's famous book "The Screwtape Letters" (a fictional series of letters between Satan and one of his minions named Screwtape).  Lapin's essay is a fictional letter between Adolf Hitler and Julius Streicher.

[You can find a copy of the original article HERE]

The full passage in which this quote is contained is actually far more compelling than the shortened version of the quote that is so famously used. Below is the full passage:

Finally, dear Julius, you will remember what I frequently said and wrote in Mein Kampf: "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people." I explained that as long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation. It is truly heartwarming to see how well this lesson has been learned by the American government. In the name of children, incursions into the private lives of American citizens have been made that we Nazis would have gazed at with open-mouthed admiration. Does it matter that our bodies failed as long as our spirit still triumphs?

It is no secret that the American people have allow their personal freedoms to be curtailed for the sake of public safety. Victim industry advocates have used the mantra for many years, "If it saves just one child, then these laws are worth it."  Of course, there is the matter of whose child we are "saving." Certainly not the ten-year-old boy we have placed on the registry, prosecuted by the federal government.

But even the Nazis needed the public to assist in the apprehension of undesirables. Hitler and his Gestapo would have "gazed at with open-minded admiration" at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's new "Operation Predator" app. For the small price of hooking your smart phone up to the federal government (for wiretapping purposes of course), you can rat out your neighbors, anonymously accusing them of horrific crimes, and soon Amerika's militarized police forces will be breaking down doors, shooting first and asking questions later. Hitler would have marveled at our public registry system, our residency laws, and our GPS monitoring systems. While the Nazis were innovators of surveillance, they would have envied the American surveillance network, with our giant supercomputers documenting phone calls, emails, and browser clicks.

The Ministry of propaganda would indeed have been in awe of our modern media-- our 24/7 news propaganda, our Internet propaganda, our print media propaganda, and the willingness of the gullible masses to soak up the propaganda like a sponge. "If only we had this in our day," Hitler would exclaim. Hitler would shake hands with victim industry advocates like John Walsh and lobby for guest appearances on Nancy Grace. They would be the face of a new ministry of propaganda.

Indeed, we have learned a lot from the Nazi social experiment. The Nazis were true innovators in many ways. Studying the influences the Nazis held over their constituents gives us insights into the ease by which a group can be demonized and eliminated from society. It is so effective even the thought of a ten year old child on the registry is supported by the masses.

Watching Erin Brockovich defend the practice of putting a ten-year-old child on a sex offender registry on "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" was appalling enough, but hearing the audience hoot, clap, and cheer in approval is even more disturbing.

It is chilling to hear the words of Prosecutor Bruce Ferg when he states that the prosecution and conviction of a ten year old child "is the best thing that could've happened to the kid."

Lupin's fictional Hitler then states:

We can be confident America will preserve and develop our Nazi ideas of scientific human perfectibility because of one stroke of genius even Reich minister of propaganda, Goebbels, has to admire: Those who are advocating socialism in America, whether deliberately or inadvertently, have succeeded in turning the term "Nazi" into a slur that may only be used against those on the right, such as Christian conservatives. Never is it used against those on the left who are precisely the Americans doing most to advance our agenda.

However, people are loathe in this country to hear such a comparison. "How can you compare sex offenders to the innocent Jews? The Jews did nothing wrong, but sex offenders harmed a child." I'm not comparing Jews to Sex Offenders(though the Nazis believed the Jews were a blight on society and the cause of many of society's ills, and thus did something wrong), but I am making comments on the similarities between the practices instituted by the Nazis and the propaganda used in America to dehumanize an unpopular group of people. No sacrifice is too great even if it means sacrificing a ten year old boy, right? Remember, Hitler did not jump straight into the Final Solution, but eased into the policy after years of increasingly restrictive laws-- registration laws, signs in the front lawns, residency restriction laws, monitoring programs, and laws preventing undesirables (not just Jews, but homosexuals, the Roma, the disabled, sex offenders, Socialists, trade unionists, and the "work shy" as well) from certain jobs and social activities. We fear making such a comparison, and people shun making a rational comparison, and in doing so, we fail to acknowledge the historical elephant in the room. Those who refuse to learn from history tend to repeat history.

All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.

I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.

Hitler understood the power of propaganda quite well. After all the Nazis had the best psychologists in the world dedicated to its use. And we have gleaned the results. Laws like Megan's Law or the PATRIOT Act were based on the most basic of human emotions. Even the mentally handicapped understand fear because it is an instinctual and biological response. These laws were created by these emotions. Propaganda further clouded the issue by creating a monstrous image of a dirty old man in a wrinkly trench coat, luring children into rusty vans with promises of candy and puppies. The 1930s German film "M" uses that image, as well as the illustration of the left, which depicts a Jew as a stereotypical child molester. Is it any wonder that generations later, we are using that same simplistic, monstrous image to discuss the heterogeneous discussion of sex offender laws and sexual abuse in America?

Raw emotion takes precedent over reason. After all, we fear something that happens about as often as someone choking to death on a hot dog. "Don't confuse us we facts, I've made up my mind," the people say. To deflect a rational discourse on the complex issue of sex offender laws or sexual abuse in America is denying the chance at a solution that values human life as a whole and seeks a true solution rather than an eliminationist "Final Solution."

It is too bad emotion blinds reason at this point in time. To quote Lapin's fictional Hitler, "We are winning Julius, we are winning. Heil Hitler."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mythbusting in action

Over the past few months, I have been focusing primarily on a number of sex offender myths typically propagated by the media. For those who were unable to attend the 2013 RSOL Conference, I have made my presentation at the conference available both on YouTube and on my website.

I have given a number of tips on how to become a myth buster at the end of my presentation; the most important tips I gave was to consider your source and read the original source material. I have discovered that often times, media reports tend to get things wrong. There are a number of reasons why the media would get a written report wrong. Those in the media are tasks with giving a very brief article on a lengthy research report. Reporters often have short deadlines, so they do not have the time to read a 30 to 100 page report, so chances are they rarely read beyond the summary pages. Spellcheckers may catch grammatical errors, but they do not always catch information that is inaccurate, so at times, glaring errors are sometimes overlooked.

I wish to take a moment to walk you through the process of myth busting by looking at an article forwarded to me this afternoon.

The article I am dissecting today was published by the website Breitbart.com; it is a prime example of shoddy reporting. Earlier, I mentioned “consider the source.” What is Breitbart? Breitbart.com is a conservative news and opinion website founded by Andrew Breitbart, former journalist for the Washington Times. It is, in essence, an independent Internet news site. Thus, the standards of journalism found at this site are likely of lower standards than those of the mass media. Brietbart.com was also been embroiled in controversy over the years, including a number of hoaxes and a doctored video that caused problems for the group ACORN.

Yesterday, Breitbart.com published an article entitled “FEDS RELEASE THOUSANDS OF IMMIGRANTS WHO ARE SEX OFFENDERS” by Tony Lee [Link: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/09/16/Feds-Release-Thousands-of-Immigrants-Who-Are-Sex-Offenders]. Lee had also published three other articles that day. The article begins with an ominous statement highlighted by its larger size and use of bold script:

The United States government has released nearly 3,000 immigrant sex offenders, some of whom were illegal immigrants, since September 2012. Of those, nearly 3,000, or about 5%, were not even properly registered with local authorities as sex offenders.”

You notice something off about this statement? Look at the numbers. How much is 5% of 3000? I am pretty sure the answer is not 3000. Judging by the following comment, this simple gaffe has the potential to amplify the panic effect this article is trying to achieve:

TennesseeRedDog  mush57 • 7 hours ago −
5% of the 60,000 total is = ~3,000 sex offenders who were not registered at all. That is the only way the math works. But that is not the way it was written. "... of those" should refer to the total of 60,000 who were released. [Comment Link: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/09/16/Feds-Release-Thousands-of-Immigrants-Who-Are-Sex-Offenders#comment-1048243101]

TennesseeRedDog’s problem is not his math or his grammar. The problem lies in his reading comprehension skills. The next statement in the article states the following:

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week, "nearly 3,000 sex offenders are part of the 59,347 immigrants who the courts have ruled cannot be held" as of September 2012 because they were unable to be sent home. These immigrants were released "under some sort of supervision." As Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times noted, though, the GAO concluded that ‘about 5 percent of the time U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t ensure that the immigrants released were properly registered with local authorities as sex offenders’.”

The article states that “nearly 3,000 sex offenders” are “part of the 59,347 immigrants” released by the
government. Only about 3,000 of nearly 60,000 immigrants temporarily detained by the government were “sex offenders.” The 3000 number is a rounded total of registrants, not a subgroup of a larger number of registrants. The fact that 3,000 is 5% of 60,000 is a mere coincidence. Five percent of 3,000 is 150.

At this point, I'd like to point out the Breitbart.com article is a rewrite of a Washington Times article; the Times article does not round up the numbers. The Times article sets the actual number of registrants as 2,837, so 5% of that number is 142. The Times article does not include the gaffe in the Breitbart.com article. It is interesting that the only changes made by the Breitbart.com reporter made the myth worse.

So where did this “5% of the time immigrant registrants are not registering” claim originate? The article claims the source was from a recently released study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Indeed, the GAO just released an article entitled “SEX OFFENDERS: ICE Could Better Inform Offenders It Supervises of Registration Responsibilities and Notify Jurisdictions when Offenders Are Removed.” This is where reading the source material now becomes important:


What GAO Found
On the basis of GAO’s analysis of a representative sample of 131 alien sex offenders under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) supervision, GAO estimates that as of September 2012, 72 percent of alien sex offenders were registered, 22 percent were not required to register, and 5 percent did not register but should have. According to officials, offenders were not required to register for various reasons, such as the offense not requiring registration in some states. Of the 6 offenders in GAO’s sample that should have registered, officials from ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ICE-ERO) field offices informed 4 of their registration requirements. However, officials at some of these field offices identified several reasons why they did not ensure that these offenders actually registered. For example, the offender may have moved and no longer resided in the area of responsibility for that particular field office. ICE had not informed the remaining 2 offenders of their registration requirements.

In any study, sample size is important. The larger the sample size, the less likely a solitary case will greatly influence the numbers. The sample size of the GAO study is 131. Therefore, adding one registrant to the number of those who “should have registered but didn't” greatly increases the overall number. Six of the 131 registrants “should have registered but didn't,” or 4.6%. Percentage points are a bigger deal when we're discussing larger numbers. Remember when I divided 3000 by 5% earlier? The more accurate formula is now 2,837 divided by 4.5%; now the magic number is 128 (22 less than our first estimate). These are indeed very small numbers.

Of course, the real issue is the Breitbart.com article scares us with “thousands of immigrant sex offenders (scary), SOME OF THEM ILLEGAL (even scarier), are released by the feds (OM-f’ing-G!).” The study is not clear how many of them are here “illegally.” The GAO report does discuss the process by which immigrants are eligible for deportation and the limitations on that ability below:

The Enforcement and Removal Operations directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE-ERO) is responsible for the identification, apprehension, detention, and removal of removable aliens. ICE-ERO prioritizes the removal of convicted criminals, among other groups. However, there are circumstances in which criminal aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States—including those convicted of a sex offense—cannot be removed. For example, a criminal alien may not be removed because the designated country will not accept the alien’s return. The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Zadvydas v. Davis imposes strict limits on ICE’s ability to detain aliens beyond 6 months after the issuance of a final order of removal if removal is not significantly likely in the reasonably foreseeable future. In these instances, ICE-ERO may release the alien into the community under an order of supervision. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), of the 59,347 aliens under an order of supervision as of September 2012, 2,837 (5 percent) of them had been convicted of a sex offense.

The bottom line is the Breitbart.com article cannot accurately portray the source material, since the author did not even read the source material. It is the online equivalent of the “telephone game.” Remember my myth busting tips—consider your sources and read the source material. The article caters to the conservative (assumed anti-immigration) crowd. The article expects the reader to fill in the blanks and, judging by many of the posts in the comments section, most have bought the hype.


Myth busting isn’t easy but it can be learned. It takes critical thinking, reading comprehension, dusting off your math skills, and taking the time to follow the information back to its source. If you want to learn more, be sure to visit my Sex Offender Myth Busterspage on Once Fallen and/or watch my presentation from the RSOL Conference, also available online.