Sorting Out Some Facts About Sex Offenders


Nobody wants a sex offender in the neighborhood, but 90 percent of St. Petersburg, Fl., area residents live within a half-mile of one, says the St. Petersburg Times. One Florida county commissioner wants the photographs and addresses of sex criminals posted in public parks. The city of Oldsmar will list the Web address for the sex offender registry on water bills.

The Times raises “hard questions:” Where are they supposed to go? Who is willing to take them in? How worried should we really be about the sex offender down the street? Because of various restrictions on their housing, offenders cluster in poor neighborhoods, staying in motels, apartments, mobile homes, or anywhere that will take them. When an offender attacks, frequently he knows the victim through family or friends. Attacks by strangers are rare. Two federal studies in the 1990s found that up to 80 percent of sex crime victims knew their attacker. Wayne Porter, a former profiler for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who gives polygraph tests to sex offenders in several counties, says that with supervision, the recidivism rate for sex crimes may be lower than 4 percent.


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