SAEN Proposal

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

USA FAIR was formed in 2012 as a charitable/educational entity that has been granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.[1]  The mission of USA FAIR is to prevent sexual abuse.  USA FAIR will achieve the goal of its mission by formulating and organizing a national sexual abuse prevention initiative, called “Sexual Abuse Ends Now” (SAEN). To communicate our focus on this initiative, USA FAIR, Inc. has formally changed its name to SAEN, Inc.

It has been more than 20 years since the inception of the sex offender registry and supervision policies that inform most current sexual abuse prevention laws.  In that time, scores of comprehensive studies of all aspects of sexual abuse have been conducted, and criminal justice agencies have compiled two decades of experiential data.  This massive aggregation of information related to sexual abuse puts the issue on a new platform of understanding, and provides a new evidentiary basis of analysis.

Thanks to two decades of experience and study, our society finds itself at the first historical moment that permits an opportunity to competently review and assess the performance outcomes of the country’s sex offense prevention measures.  As articulated by its Executive Director, SAEN concludes that the sexual abuse prevention measures undertaken in the United States have been ineffective, and reform is necessary: 

“The issue of sexual abuse is laden with complexity and emotional intensity.  For decades, the public policy and legal measures enacted to prevent sexual abuse have been clouded by misinformation and fear.  However, the science and data now available make it indisputably clear that the political and legal architecture designed to confront and prevent sexual abuse is ineffective. 

Responsible people cannot ignore the proof that our country’s current approach to the protection of society from sexual abuse has failed.  An honest assessment of the evidence also confirms that the sexual abuse prevention schemes now in place have been devastating to the lives of persons with a sex offense history, and limits the ability of those individuals to safely and successfully reintegrate into society.  Simply put, the present body of law and policy to prevent sexual abuse neither protects society, nor rehabilitates offenders.  This situation is unacceptable, and demands action.  Reform is no longer optional; rather, it is an affirmative obligation of citizens and lawmakers.  What is needed is a new set of law and policy initiatives that will actually work to prevent sexual abuse, and to rehabilitate citizens with a sex offense history.”[2]

PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION

Current sex offense law and public policy[3] is largely offense-based and directed at citizens with a sex offense history[4] – a population that commits less than 5% of new sex crimes.  The sex offense prevention schemes now in place that focus on former offenders cost several hundred million tax dollars a year, but fail to prevent the vast majority of sexual abuse – approximately 95% of all sexual offenses are committed by first-time offenders who are not listed on any registry.   This approach is ineffective, misdirects the focus of limited sex offense prevention resources, and likely increases the occurrence of sexual abuse.

PROBLEM GENESIS

American sex offense law and public policy arose as an understandable human response to emotion-laden, but exceedingly rare, tragedies.[5]  The media-driven social outrage that induced political engagement in the issue of sexual abuse resulted in highly expedited legislation, which abandoned the normal deliberative process.   The fast-tracked legislation, usually bearing the name of a victim of sexual abuse, lacked the due diligence, research and debate normally to be expected of the legislative process.   In addition, the information on sexual abuse available at the time that many such laws were enacted was limited and inaccurate. 

FLAWED ASSUMPTIONS IN PUBLIC POLICY

The following represent some of the flawed assumptions that present sex offense law and policy are based upon:

  • Myth: Strangers commit most sexual assault.
    Fact: Strangers commit only 7% of all sexual assaults.[6]
  • Myth: Citizens with a sex offense history have extremely high (approaching 100%) recidivism rates.
  • Fact: Large-scale national studies report sex offense recidivism rates of 5-14%, lower than for any other crime other than homicide.[7]
  • Myth: Sex offending behavior is inevitably compulsive and untreatable.
    Fact: Treatment reduces recidivism to rates by as much as 25%-50%. Few offenders are compulsive, and compulsivity is dynamic and treatable.[8]
  • Myth:  Lower level sex offenses (juvenile sexual experiences, public urination, solicitation of prostitutes, public exposure, possession of child pornography, etc.) represent gateway offenses inexorably leading to child rape.
    Fact: Males who commit low-level sex offenses are the least likely to recidivate with a contact sex offense (exhibitionism: 5-10%; possession of child pornography: 1%; juvenile offenders: 7%)[9]
  • Myth: An epidemic of stranger child abduction/rape/murders is sweeping the country, placing our children at grave risk.
    Fact: Odds of a child being a rape/murder victim are 1 in a million. A child is more likely to drown, be struck by lightning or commit suicide. Six times as many children die in car accidents each year. Odds a child will be raped/murdered by a stranger recidivist are even smaller: 1 in 200 million.[10]
  • Myth:  All registered citizens pose a similar re-offense risk, remaining extremely high throughout their entire lifetime.
    Fact: Most registered citizens have a low risk (< 10% lifetime) of recidivism. Risk drops considerably with years of offense-free tenure in the community and advancing age. After 10 years, low risk offenders are no more likely to offend than a randomly selected male out of the general population.[11]
  • Myth:  Sexual offences are strictly a criminal justice problem, not a public health problem.
    Fact: Repeat offenders typically manifest treatable psychiatric sexual disorders.
  • Myth:  Public dissemination of information about registered citizens reduces the risk of sexual assault.
    Fact: Research shows that Megan’s Law has had NO effect on sex offense rates.
  • Myth:  Children are asexual beings. Any expression of sexual curiosity or interest presages subsequent adult sex offending behavior.
    Fact: Human sexuality is a developmental process. Children typically proceed through normal stages of curiosity and experimentation within their peer group.[12]

 

MISDIRECTED LAWS AND RESOURCES

Public policy derived from false assumptions have led to the misdirection of law and public safety resources in sexual abuse prevention, such as the following:

  • Failure to protect the public from, or reduce the incidence of, most sexual abuse.  This is due to a focus on former offenders that ignores the source of 95% of sexual abuse, e.g., first-offense sexual abusers.
  • The focus on former offenders absorbs an extraordinary percentage of public resources and money, but is ineffective, because recidivism accounts for less than 5% of all sex offenses.
  • Virtually no resources or funding are dedicated to “before-the-fact” prevention of sexual abuse, or toward identification and treatment of potential “first-offense” abusers.
  •  Public attention is directed away from the major source of sexual abuse danger, acquaintances and family members, and directed toward a minimal source of sex offense danger, strangers.  Public attention should be directed toward any sexual abuse danger that exists, with an appropriate assessment of the danger described.
  • All citizens with a sex offense history are stereotyped as the worst offenders, and laws are enacted in a one-size-fits-all fashion.  This approach results in laws that treat all registrants the same, irrespective of risk – including juveniles. This is inaccurate portrayal of sexual abuse risk, and, therefore, fails to promote the protection of the public.
  • Present sexual abuse prevention law and policy fails to ground supervision and management of citizens with a sex offense history on empirically validated assessments of risk, and specific tailoring of interventions and resources based on the R‑N‑R model.
  • Present sexual abuse prevention law and policy fail to account for time-based reductions of risk as registered citizens age.
  • Present law and policy to prevent sexual abuse destroys any opportunity for citizens with a sex offense history to reintegrate successfully into their communities, resulting in the marginalization of close to one million citizens with a sex offense history; as well as their families.
  • Present law and policy to prevent sexual abuse criminalizes normal, if not always appropriate, experimental behavior of children and adolescents within their peer group.
  • Present law and policy to prevent sexual abuse promotes criminal activity caused by desperation as registered citizens lose their homes, jobs, social networks, and support systems.

THE SAEN SOLUTION

SAEN proposes a major, cross-disciplinary, inter-organizational effort to craft and adopt a broad-based, public policy and legislative initiative.  The SAEN initiative will prioritize the prevention of sexual abuse as a matter of public health policy.   The SAEN initiative will also advocate the concept of “rehabilitation in the interest of public safety”, which emphasizes successful reintegration into society of persons with a sex offense history as an effective method to deter recidivism.

SAEN INITIATIVE

The first phase of the SAEN initiative will be a one-year effort to synthesize the abundance of valuable new knowledge and produce a working draft of the SAEN sexual abuse prevention proposal. This “research phase” of the SAEN proposal will include consultation with all major “sexual abuse prevention stakeholders” including law enforcement agencies, victim’s rights advocates; treatment providers, sex offense law reform organizations, elected officials, community and religious leaders, academics, social scientists and others.

The finished working draft of the SAEN sexual abuse prevention proposal will be distributed to the major “sexual abuse prevention stakeholders” for review and comment. This draft will be written as an implementation plan with specific proposals for new policies and model legislation.  All feedback will be considered and, where appropriate, revisions of the SAEN proposal will be made. 

The revised working draft of the SAEN proposal will then be distributed to the recognized sex offense law and policy reform community, and a national conference of the reform community will be convened to review, make final revisions, and formally ratify the SAEN proposal for the prevention of sexual abuse.  The desired result of the SAEN proposal is to create a platform of effective sexual abuse prevention measures that will have the performance outcome of a dramatic reduction of sexual abuse in the United States.  

The SAEN proposal will provide a basis of commonality to unify the sex offense law and policy reform community in its goals and advocacy initiatives.  The ratification of the SAEN proposal will begin a phase of coordinated advocacy, on a national scale, proposing a single set of sexual abuse prevention law and policy reform measures.   A united reform community will permit the consolidation of intellectual, financial and other advocacy resources, amplify the ability to reform community to communicate their message, and enhance the probability of a successful reform outcome.

It is anticipated that operations of the SEAN initiative will begin on November 1, 2015.

SAEN PROPOSALS

At present, the four main components of the SAEN proposal for the prevention of sexual abuse are: 

1.      Comprehensive and scientifically validated public health programs aimed at reducing the incidence of sexual abuse, with an emphasis on deterring first-offense crimes that account for approximately 95% of all sexual abuse.

2.      Elimination of juveniles adjudicated delinquent (on the basis of sexual misconduct) from post-adjudication sex offense collateral consequences, such as registration, notification, and supervision schemes.

3.      Community-based “Sex Offense Management” (SOM) programs, grounded in the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model –a proven method of risk assessment and treatment designed to prevent re-offense by persons with a sex offense history, and that promotes safe and successful reintegration into society.

4.      Adopt a risk-based approach to all post-conviction sex offense law and policy, and eliminate all offense-based components.  The prevention of sex offense recidivism, and the determination of the entry into, and exit from, SOM programs, must be grounded in empirically validated risk assessment tools.

The following are examples of the type of scientifically validated, rational and targeted measures to combat sexual abuse, which will become specific policy or legislative recommendations of the SAEN proposal:

  • Establishment of sex offense courts modeled after drug courts and mental health courts.
  • Age appropriate, validated, programming for children and adolescents to ensure they become neither victims nor victimizers.
  • Parental and community based programs promoting accurate information about developmentally appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior in children and adolescents.
  • Education, based on validated and accurate information, about how to identify a potential abuser who might take interest in children.
  • Confidential, free, anonymous and on-demand counseling services for victims as well as individuals with deviant sexual arousal seeking therapeutic intervention before they offend –available in every county of the United States.
  • Development and promotion of Safer Environment models for institutions and agencies, such as schools, clubs, churches, colleges, the US Military.
  • A risk-based use of the criminal justice system to monitor risk-appropriate offenders, and to provide empirically validated treatment and rehabilitation
  • Removal of all juveniles adjudicated delinquent because of a sex offense from current sex offender registration, notification and supervision schemes, with a redirected focus on confidential treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Implementation of comprehensive, scientifically validated, community-based sex offense management (SOM) programs grounded on the R‑N‑R Model of ex-offender reintegration into society, with wrap-around programming for housing, employment, transportation, therapy and other functional areas.
  • Adoption of procedures for offender entry into and exit from SOM programs based on empirically validated risk assessment that identifies a legitimate concern for re-offense.  There should be no offense-based components, and no time-bars for evaluation of readiness for termination from an SOM program.

 

SAEN OBJECTIVES

The SAEN goals will be achieved over a 5-year period.  The following is an outline of objectives for the first two years:

YEAR 1

  • In collaboration with other stakeholders, research and draft the SAEN proposal.
  • Disseminate drafts of the SAEN proposal to an even broader range of stakeholders and other interested parties, including the media, legislators, etc.
  • Convene a national conference of sex offense law reform stakeholders to review, approve and ratify the SAEN proposal.
  • Pursue the formation of a Council (or Board of Directors) to manage the implementation of the SAEN initiative, and obtain commitments from relevant stakeholder organizations to pursue the SAEN proposal goals based on each organization’s distinct competencies.
  • Use the SAEN proposal as the primary fundraising tool for seeking grant, foundation, and general public donations.
  • Develop talking points and briefing statements responding to media inquiries, presentation to legislative committees, and for use at local, state, and national conferences, conventions, and meetings of interested parties.
  • Prepare and distribute fact sheets for the general media and draft press releases when needed.
  • Develop capability to track SAEN proposal legislation around the country.

 

YEAR 2

  • Hire a grant writer and fund raiser, and secure sufficient grants and funding to sustain SAEN Inc. for a five-year period. The funding goal for Year 2 will be a 100% increase from Year 1 funding.
  • Coordinate tasks and implementation strategies across SAEN initiative membership. SAEN will take the lead role in reform of juvenile justice laws, the promotion of validated risk assessments, and reliance upon the R‑N‑R model for post-release management of risk-appropriate offenders.
  • Develop model legislation to implement the SAEN proposal.
  • Identify and target the five states most receptive to sex offense law and policy reform, and seek sponsors for introduction of model legislation.
  • Initiate a national public education campaign promoting the SAEN initiative.
  • Implement through SAEN and its affiliated organizations, crisis response teams to respond to pending litigation, or other local, state, or federal government action violating the tenets of the SAEN proposal.
  • Organize a national conference of all relevant stakeholders, legislators, public policy makers, and government agencies to promote the SAEN proposal.
  • Develop and index a library of resource material on sexual abuse and sex offending issues in support of organizational efforts.
  • Establish an infrastructure of volunteers and paid staff to staff a call center handling 500 inquiries per year.

 

SAEN STAFFING

Initially, SAEN will be staffed by a full-time Executive Administrator and a Researcher, operating under the direction of the volunteer Executive Director and Board of Directors, and supported by a corps of volunteers. The Executive Administrator has a doctorate in psychology and is extensively published in the field of forensic psychological science, and development, manifestation and management of sexual deviance. Technical support will be provided by a volunteer Board of Advisors comprised of leading national experts in human sexuality, offender risk assessment, treatment of sex offending individuals and their victims, program design and development, and public policy.

SAEN FUNDING

SAEN Inc. seeks initial funding of approximately $150,000, for the funding of the first year of operations.  The first year budget is attached as Appendix 1.

 

 

CONTACT

James H. Maynard, Esq.

Executive Director, SAEN, Inc.

65 Madison Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960

Tel:      973-540-0054

Web:               www.usafair.org

Email:             jhm@maynardlawoffice.com

 

 

 



ENDNOTES

[1]           Donations are tax-deductible for Federal income tax purposes. 

[2]           Welcome Address of the Executive Director; SAEN, Inc.; James H. Maynard, Esq.

[3]           Refers to local, state, and federal laws and regulations with regard to registration, community notification, Internet registry publication, involuntary civil commitment, and residency/employment/proximity restrictions imposed on those with sex offense histories.

[4]           USA FAIR opposes the use of the term “sex offender” to describe individuals with sex offense histories who are subject to registration, notification, Internet Registry, and community restrictions. Labeling individuals as “sex offenders” stigmatizes and dehumanizes them, and perpetuates the myth such individuals remain a sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

[5]           0.7% of all sexual assault is rape-murder committed by a stranger on a child.

[6]      Langan, P. A., Schmitt, E. L., & Durose, M. R. (2003). Bureau of Justice Statistics Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994. Washington, DC. doi:NCJ 198381

Tabachnick, J., & Klein, A., (2011). A Reasoned Approach: Reshaping Sex Offender Policy. Beaverton, Oregon: Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.

[7]      See Lanigan, Schmitt, & Durose, at n. 7 above, reporting 5.3% recidivism rate.

       See also, Hanson, R. K., & Morton-Bourgon, K. E. (2009). The accuracy of recidivism risk assessments for sexual offenders: A meta-analysis of 118 prediction studies. Psychological Assessment, 21, 1-21. doi: 10.1037/a0014421 reporting 11.5% recidivism rate

       Hanson, R., & Morton-Bourgon, K. (2007). The accuracy of recidivism risk assessments for sexual offenders: A meta-analysis. Department of Justice, Canada: Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, reporting 12.4% recidivism rate;

       Letourneau, E. J., Levenson, J. S., Bandyopadhyay, D., Sinha, D., & Armstrong, K. S. (2011). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Policies for Reducing Sexual Violence against Women.  National Institute of Justice. doi:10.1177/0093854810363562, reporting 8% recidivism rate.

[8]           Hanson, R. K., Gordon, A., Harris, A. J. R., Marques, J. K., Murphy, W., Quinsey, V. L., & Seto, M. C. (2002). First report of the collaborative outcome data project on the effectiveness of psychological treatment for sex offenders. Sexual Abuse : A Journal of Research and Treatment, 14(2), 169–94; discussion 195–7, reporting 25% reduction in recidivism;

 

       Hall, G. C. (1995). Sexual offender recidivism revisited: a meta-analysis of recent treatment studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63(5), 802–9, reporting 30% reduction in recidivism;

       Looman, J., Abracen, J., & Nicholaichuk, T. P. (2000). Recidivism Among Treated Sexual Offenders and Matched Controls: Data From the Regional Treatment Centre (Ontario). Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15(3), 279–290. doi:10.1177/088626000015003004, reported 50% reduction in recidivism

[9]           McNally, M. R., & Fremouw, W. J. (2014). Examining risk of escalation: A critical review of the exhibitionistic behavior literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 19, 474-485. (Contact offense recidivism by exhibitionists: 5-10%);

       Firestone, P., Kingston, D.A., Wexler, A., & Bradford, J. M. (2006). Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 34(3), 349-359, (Contact offense recidivism by exhibitionists: 10%);

       Endrass, J., Urbaniok, F., Hammermeister, L. C., Benz, C., Elbert, T., Laubacher, A., & Rossegger, A. (2009). The consumption of Internet child pornography and violent and sex offending. Psychiatry, 9:43-50, (Contact offense recidivism by child pornography users: 1%).

       Caldwell, M. F. (2009). Study Characteristics and Recidivism Base Rates in Juvenile Sex Offender Recidivism. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 54(2), 197–212 (any sex offense recidivism by juveniles: 7%); Waite, D., Keller, A., McGarvey, E. L., Wieckowski, E., Pinkerton, R., & Brown, G. L. (2005). Juvenile Sex Offender Re-Arrest Rates for Sexual, Violent Nonsexual and Property Crimes: A 10-Year Follow-Up. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 17(3), 313–331. (any sex offense recidivism by juveniles: <5%).

[10]        According to the United States Census (2012 estimates), the U.S. population in 2012 was 313,800,000, of which 23.5% were under the age of 18, or approximately 74,000,000 children in the United States.

       Finkelhor, Hammer & Sedlak [Finkelhor, D., Hammer, H., & Sedlak, A. J. (2002). Nonfamily Abducted Children: Washington, DC:OJJDP-U.S. Dept. of Justice.], cited data from the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Run Away and Thrown Away Children in 1999, revealing that of the 800,000 children reported missing in 1999, only 115 cases (.014%) involved stranger child abductions. Of these 115, 57 children were murdered or not recovered. Sexual assault occurred in approximately half of these stranger child abductions.

       Based on this data, and given a U.S. Population of 74,000,000 children, the likelihood of a child being a victim of this type of crime is less than 1 in a million.

       By comparison, over 1,600 children a year die as a result of neglect and non-sexual abuse, at the hands of their caretakers (source: www.childhealth.org).

       Additional findings by Sandler, Freeman & Socia [Sandler, J. C., Freeman, N. J., & Socia, K. M. (2008). Does a watched pot boil? A time-series analysis of New York State’s sex offender registration and notification law. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 14(4), 284–302. doi:10.1037/a0013881] show that only 5% of sex offenses are committed by a recidivist. When combined with the rate of stranger assaults being around 7%, the likelihood that any given sexual assault against a child was committed by a stranger recidivist is less than one half of 1 percent or (.35%). Applying that rate (.35%) to the number of abducted/raped/murdered children per year (57), the likelihood of a child being abducted, raped and murdered by a recidivist stranger is 1 in 200 million.

[11]        Hanson, R. K., Harris, A. J. R., Helmus, L., & Thornton, D. (2014). High-Risk Sex Offenders May Not Be High Risk Forever. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. doi:10.1177/0886260514526062

[12]        Sandford, T. (2000). Childhood Sexuality: Normal Sexual Behavior and Development. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press.

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