Friday, April 28, 2017

Like Rushing To Drink Your Milk Before The Expiration Date

Only Instead, Killing People:

Arkansas executed two convicted murderers on Monday night, the first time in almost 17 years that any state has executed two inmates on the same day, as the state carries out a series of capital punishments before one of its lethal injection drugs expires.
Jack H. Jones Jr. died at 7:20 p.m. local time, and Marcel Williams at 10:33 p.m., both from the injection of a three-drug combination, after a flurry of failed, last-ditch appeals. The executions in the death chamber at the Cummings Unit, a state prison southwest of Pine Bluff, came four days after the state put to death another killer, Ledell Lee. A fourth condemned man, Kenneth Williams, is scheduled to be executed on Thursday.
On Monday, the courts rejected a series of appeals by Mr. Jones and Mr. Williams, including an effort minutes before Mr. Williams’s execution, arguing it would be unconstitutionally cruel, based on complications Mr. Jones might have experienced. In a court filing, Mr. Williams’s lawyers wrote that infirmary workers had tried unsuccessfully to insert a central line in Mr. Jones’s neck for 45 minutes, before placing it elsewhere on his body. Then Mr. Jones gulped for air during the execution, the filing said, “evidence of continued consciousness.”
Apparently the one last night (number 4, for those of you marking X's on your calendar) was even more gruesome
Media witnesses reported "coughing, convulsing, lurching, jerking" for a 10 to 20 second period during the execution of Kenneth Williams at the Cummins Unit, where the Arkansas death chamber is housed.
The allegations come amid questions around the use of the controversial lethal injection drug midazolam. The state's stocks of the drug were due to expire and it has been racing to execute a record number of inmates — Williams was the fourth to be executed inside of a week.
"This is the most I've seen an inmate move three or four minutes in," said Associated Press reporter Kelly Kissel, who witnessed his tenth execution Thursday night. Kissel explained that Williams "lurched" 15 times in quick succession, followed by five slower lurches, three minutes after the sedative midazolam was introduced.
Kissel said two other witnesses from local media organizations agreed with his assessment and also said that Williams could be heard after the microphone to the death chamber was turned off. Williams' attorney called for an investigation and called the descriptions "horrifying."
Good times. Four down, four to go before the drugs expire on Sunday.

As I told my students, lost in this story is the unbelievable fact that these four killings so far, and the ones to come, are directly related to the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Back in March I mentioned to them that it was astonishing Gorsuch didn't face one question re the death penalty during four days of testimony. Not even from the left.

While we get worked up about abortion, speech, or business-related areas where nominees may rule, almost no one ever asks about the death penalty anymore...and the fact remains the justices hear WAY more cases related to the death penalty than ANY other issue, combined.

And so what was the first vote that Anne Gorsuch Burford's kid cast his first week on the court? The fifth vote to lift the stay over Arkansas' gruesome desire to whack 8 inmates in a 10 day period. And poof, just like that, four people are dead, one apparently tortured, another mentally disabled. Well done, Neil, in your first week, in your stolen seat.

Elections have consequences, folks. And so too does refrigeration, expiration dates, and the desire to hurry people to their death simply because your drugs are passed the date on the bottle.

God I love Arkansas. Soooooie!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Arkansas 8 Repreive

Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Rush to Executions:

A federal judge on Saturday halted Arkansas’ plans for an extraordinary series of executions set to begin on Monday, adding to the legal chaos surrounding what began as one state’s effort to put eight convicted murderers to death over less than two weeks.
Although the Arkansas attorney general’s office appealed the ruling, Saturday’s preliminary injunction by Judge Kristine G. Baker of Federal District Court in Little Rock, Ark., threatened to unravel the state’s plan for its first executions since 2005.
The state’s execution schedule, which Gov. Asa Hutchinson set in February, was steeped in turmoil even before Judge Baker’s order on Saturday morning. Rulings by other judges had already resulted in stays of execution for two prisoners, and on Friday, a Circuit Court judge in Pulaski County issued a restraining order that barred the state from using one of its three execution drugs.
“I understand how difficult this is on the victims’ families, and my heart goes out to them as they once again deal with the continued court review,” Mr. Hutchinson said in a statement. “However, the last minute court reviews are all part of the difficult process of death penalty cases.”
In a 101-page order on Saturday, Judge Baker embraced arguments by the eight prisoners whose executions had been scheduled, plus one other death row inmate, that Arkansas’s reliance on midazolam, as an execution drug posed a risk to their constitutional rights. The drug is supposed to render a person unconscious and unable to feel pain during a lethal injection.
“The threat of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs is significant: If midazolam does not adequately anesthetize plaintiffs, or if their executions are ‘botched,’ they will suffer severe pain before they die,” Judge Baker, an appointee of President Barack Obama, wrote. She added that the men had “shown a significant possibility that they will succeed on the merits of their method of execution claims based on midazolam.”
We even found out that Arkansas, like a lot of other desperate junkies, er states running out of lethal injection drugs, purchased midazaolam under false pretenses.
Although the case before Judge Baker was central to the efforts to stop the executions, state judges were also asked to consider an array of arguments, including one on Friday that Arkansas had relied on a false pretense when it bought one of its lethal injection drugs from the nation’s largest pharmaceutical distributor.
According to that company, McKesson Corporation, the state bought vials of vecuronium bromide in July, even though Arkansas officials knew that McKesson and the drug’s manufacturer had taken steps to prevent its use in executions.
A quiet clash simmered for months, and in a letter to state officials on Thursday, a lawyer for McKesson complained that the Arkansas prison system had “purchased the products on an account that was opened under the valid medical license of an Arkansas physician, implicitly representing that the products would only be used for a legitimate medical purpose.”
The company went to court on Friday, and a judge quickly blocked state officials from carrying out executions with the drug. After Judge Baker’s ruling on Saturday, McKesson asked for the temporary restraining order to be abandoned because “the imminent danger that defendants would use McKesson’s property and be unable to return it” had been addressed by the federal court’s action.
Predictably, the get tough types went apoplectic, citing Justice Sam Alito's brain dead observations in Glossip (and ironically, on this Easter weekend).
Supporters of midazolam’s continued use in executions often say that the drug is not one of choice — they would prefer to carry out death sentences with other drugs that have become especially difficult for states to buy — but they contend that the medicine does not leave prisoners vulnerable to unacceptable risks.
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the Supreme Court in the 2015 case that allowed for midazolam to remain the ranks of the nation’s execution drugs, said the court had found that “the Constitution does not require the avoidance of all risk of pain.”
Then he added: “After all, while most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune. Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether.”
Sorry, Sam, but most humans don't wish to died at all, regardless of varying degrees of pain involved. The Constitution doesn't even contemplate "humans wishing to die" in any shape or form.

Anyway, for now the big ol' Razorback experiment in bone and flesh seems to be at a halt. We'll update and report.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

She Sells Sanctuary

White House To States: Shield Illegals and Lose Police Funding:

The Trump administration, signaling its intent to toughen enforcement of immigration laws across the country, threatened on Monday to withhold or revoke law enforcement funding from states, cities and localities that block the police or sheriffs from telling federal authorities about undocumented immigrants in their custody.
In an announcement at the White House, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions said state and local governments seeking certain law enforcement grants would have to certify that they were complying with a law that bars any official from withholding information from the Department of Homeland Security about a person’s immigration status. Those that are violating the policy could see such grants clawed back, he said.
Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’s appearance was an effort to threaten painful consequences for so-called sanctuary cities, those that decline to cooperate with the federal government in efforts to track and deport undocumented immigrants.
“I strongly urge our nation’s states and cities and counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws and to rethink these policies,” Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions said. “Such policies make their cities and states less safe — public safety as well as national security are at stake — and put them at risk of losing federal dollars.”
The larger cities don't really give a shit, however, so the threat is both empty and idle ("Bye Felicia" keeps rolling through my dome).
A 2014 law in New York City that restricts the corrections department from telling Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials about an inmate’s release date, incarceration status or coming court dates unless the inmate was the subject of a detainer request supported by a judicial warrant. As a result, the report said, ICE closed its office on Rikers Island.
New York received about $53 million — a tiny fraction of its budget — from the Justice Department in the most recent fiscal year, according to City Hall officials. Much of that funding goes to the police and corrections departments for the police crime lab; ballistic helmets and vests for officers; crime prevention programs; drug and gang task forces; and the like.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that the “latest threat” from the Trump administration “changes nothing” in New York. “Any attempt to cut N.Y.P.D. funding for the nation’s top terror target will be aggressively fought in court,” he said.
“It’s simply outrageous that the Trump administration and their ICE agents are putting politics and scapegoating of immigrants ahead of public safety and the ability of local communities to decide how best to keep their communities safe,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund.
Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, called Mr. Trump’s approach “draconian.”
“Despite what Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions implied this afternoon, state and local governments and law enforcement have broad authority under the Constitution to not participate in federal immigration enforcement,” he said.
That's because the Constitution specifically mandates that law enforcement matters be left to the states/regions/cities, and not the federal government per se. This was designed to prevent, you know, a madman from taking over the country and mobilizing a "federal police force" against the people.

Of course, the federal government has a long history of meddling in local law enforcement, going back to the 1960's and 70's and the expansion of the LEAA which created the War on Drugs. This led to the War on Immigrants and Defense Department equipment being funneled to local pd's in the 90's, and then really accelerated post-9/11 in the War on Terror to militarize, expand surveillance, and create the garrison state we live in today. 

But what sanctuary cities, counties and states are saying is, you can take your money and shove it, we're not participating in any more of your immigrant crackdowns. And that doesn't sit too well with this administration in particular.

You can almost see the line of opposition coalescing around a "Why does Trump hate law enforcement so much?" or "Why is Trump so weak on terror?" line. Anytime you start cutting funding to law enforcement, you're playing with fire politically.

For the smaller counties and departments, I can see how this kind of muscle might get them to cave and cooperate. But again, for the larger cities and metropolitan areas, where the bulk of the War on Immigration is being fought, the administration's threats are meaningless and silly.

Meddling in local law enforcement is going to come at a price. And it's the Feds, in this case, who are going to lose more than the states/local departments.

Monday, March 20, 2017

John Wetton: An Extraordinary Life

Haven't done a smoke break video in awhile, but here's a good one. Back on January 31st we lost a music hero of mine, John Wetton, a guy who pretty much provided the soundtrack to my life over the years (from King Crimson, to Asia to Icon and a myriad of solo albums).

Not sure who did this tribute, but it's done to one of my favorite songs "After All" off his 1998 solo album "Arkangel." Chuck Berry may have started it all, but JW put a lasting imprimatur on the genre as well. RIP one of the greatest voices of all time.


The Failure of Militarized Policing

Door-Busting Drug Raids Leave Trail of Blood:

As policing has militarized to fight a faltering war on drugs, few tactics have proved as dangerous as the use of forcible-entry raids to serve narcotics search warrants, which regularly introduce staggering levels of violence into missions that might be accomplished through patient stakeouts or simple knocks at the door.
Thousands of times a year, these “dynamic entry” raids exploit the element of surprise to effect seizures and arrests of neighborhood drug dealers. But they have also led time and again to avoidable deaths, gruesome injuries, demolished property, enduring trauma, blackened reputations and multimillion-dollar legal settlements at taxpayer expense, an investigation by The New York Times found.
For the most part, governments at all levels have chosen not to quantify the toll by requiring reporting on SWAT operations. But The Times’s investigation, which relied on dozens of open-record requests and thousands of pages from police and court files, found that at least 81 civilians and 13 law enforcement officers died in such raids from 2010 through 2016. Scores of others were maimed or wounded.
The casualties have occurred in the execution of no-knock warrants, which give the police prior judicial authority to force entry without notice, as well as warrants that require the police to knock and announce themselves before breaking down doors. Often, there is little difference.
These kinds of hyper-militarized raids, often times done on the flimsiest of warrants, and usually turning up one gram, one ounce, or less of said substance, are a disgrace to long-term policing veterans. And because the raids are carried out with legal impunity, with little to no training, a wild-west mentality pervades the planning, execution, and usually tragic endings.
Some SWAT veterans find it confounding that many police agencies remain so devoted to dynamic entry. The tactic is far from universally embraced, and a number of departments have retired or restricted its use over the years, often after a bad experience.
The National Tactical Officers Association, which might be expected to mount the most ardent defense, has long called for using dynamic entry sparingly. Robert Chabali, the group’s chairman from 2012 to 2015, goes so far as to recommend that it never be used to serve narcotics warrants.
“It just makes no sense,” said Mr. Chabali, a SWAT veteran who retired as assistant chief of the Dayton, Ohio, Police Department in 2015. “Why would you run into a gunfight? If we are going to risk our lives, we risk them for a hostage, for a citizen, for a fellow officer. You definitely don’t go in and risk your life for drugs.”
Another former chairman of the association, Phil Hansen, said SWAT teams tended to use dynamic entry as “a one-size-fits-all solution to tactical problems.” As commander of the Police Department in Santa Maria, Calif., and before that a longtime SWAT leader for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he said it seemed foolhardy to move so aggressively in a state that voted in November to legalize recreational marijuana.
“Why am I risking people’s lives to save an ounce of something that they’re bringing in by the freighter every year?” he asked.
Predictably, there is push back from those who wish to cling to their guns and grenades.
“If you want to take the position that narcotics laws in this country should not be enforced, then O.K., yeah,” said Sheriff Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish in Louisiana, the president of the National Sheriffs’ Association. “That’s not the position of the law enforcement people around the country that I know. If you’re going to make narcotics cases you need to have evidence, and search warrants are how you get it.”
Sheriff Champagne said his deputies looked for opportunities to detain suspects on the street or in cars. Even so, he said, “there are times we just have to go in.”
“There’s an argument that no-knock warrants can actually be safer for residents and officers because a well-trained SWAT team can neutralize a situation in seconds and minimize the chance for hostage-takings and standoffs,” he added. “You can always point to the one bad case, but look at the thousands of cases where a no-knock warrant was executed without injury and heroin is seized. How many lives are saved because we got it off the street?”
Probably none, since heroin and the opioid crisis is a public health problem, not a criminal justice problem, and it's currently killing 30,000+ people every year in the U.S. And all the no-knock warrants in the world aren't going to stop it. 

But as the academic evidence shows, this is more about testosterone, masculinity, and a kind of Hollywood tough-guy image of SWAT teams that pervades some departments and communities.

Also, it's about the Benjamins to be gained via asset forfeiture laws, which have basically legalized stealing and looting in the name of the War on Drugs. 
Clearly there are other factors that contribute to the tactic’s staying power. Some of it, according to long-term observers, derives from the adrenalized, hypermasculine, militaristic ethos of SWAT.
“It’s culturally intoxicating, a rush,” said Dr. Kraska, the criminologist. “It involves dressing up in body armor and provocative face coverings and enhanced-hearing sets, a cyborg 21st-century kind of appeal. And instead of sitting around and waiting for something to happen twice or three times a year, you can go out and generate it.”
That culture is reinforced by a cottage industry of tactical training contractors, many of them veterans of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, who are hired by police departments to keep SWAT teams up to date.
“For them, collateral damage is something you try to avoid but it’s not a deal breaker,” Commander Hansen said. “That doesn’t translate well for police work. If you’re in the military and told to clear a block of houses in a half-hour, you’re going to do it quickly by kicking in doors and throwing grenades. It’s a whole different theater of operations.”
Another potential factor is the incentive sometimes provided by asset forfeiture laws when contraband or drug proceeds are found in a residence. Revenue generated by those seizures typically reverts back to law enforcement agencies.
Frankly, if we wiped out the immunity laws that allow these raids to happen, not just for the officers and prosecutors who cook up the warrants, but the hapless, often witless magistrates who approve them without any real knowledge of the facts, we might cut down on on the trail of blood. 

Putting it a different way: if these judges, prosecutors and officers knew they could be held civilly and criminally liable for their actions, they might put more time into avoiding these wrong-address raids that end up taking innocent lives.

It might also save more blue lives, as this accompanying article argues. With so many "stand your ground laws" now on the books, and gun ownership in the U.S. at an all-time high, we are basically sending law enforcement officers to their deaths needlessly in these no-knock situations. People have the right to defend their property, and as the article shows, officers get killed by citizens exercising their rights before they are aware that the people "breaking into their homes" are, in fact, the police.

Of course, the article also shows how the white defendant who killed a cop was let go in the name of self-defense, while the black defendant is charged with capital murder and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. But regardless, two cops are dead, and it's a tragedy all the way around.

These heavy-handed, no-knock SWAT spectacles are the shameful, ignominious legacy of the War on Drugs, the militarizing of the police that occurred in the 80's and 90's, the politics of punishment, and mass incarceration which has dominated out domestic politics for a generation. It has deprofessionalized the job of policing, and created a disrespect for law enforcement which cannot be erased.

As the experts have said for just as long as well: please leave military style assaults to the military in war zones. Our communities are not war zones, and if we keep treating people with drug problems as "enemies," more carnage will ensue. It's not fair to the citizens, and it's not fair to the men and women in blue uniforms.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sedated Minds

Common Sedative Becomes Execution Drug:

When a chemist named Armin Walser helped invent a sedative more powerful than Valium more than 40 years ago, he thought his team’s concoction was meant to make people’s lives easier, not their deaths.
Yet decades after the drug, known as midazolam, entered the market, a product more often used during colonoscopies and cardiac catheterizations has become central to executions around the country and the debate that surrounds capital punishment in the United States.
“I didn’t make it for the purpose,” Dr. Walser, whose drug has been used for sedation during 20 lethal injections nationwide, said in an interview at his home here. “I am not a friend of the death penalty or execution.”
Midazolam’s path from Dr. Walser’s laboratory into use in at least six of the country’s execution chambers has been filled with secrecy, political pressure, scientific disputes and court challenges.
The most recent controversy is the extraordinary plan in Arkansas to execute eight inmates in 10 days next month. The state is racing the calendar: Its midazolam supply will expire at the end of April, and given the resistance of manufacturers to having the drug used in executions, Arkansas would most likely face major hurdles if it tried to restock.
I wrote about the Arkansas Eight previously, and why the rush to kill has nothing to do with justice or the victims, and everything to do with a dwindling supply of Midazolam about to expire. Kind of like how you drink a bunch of milk right before it goes bad (except killing people instead). 
It was a matter of years before midazolam went from being part of a backup procedure in a single state to a crucial drug in at least six, as prison systems increasingly struggled to buy the barbiturates they had long used to sedate prisoners for executions. In 2013, Florida added midazolam to its execution protocol and became the first state to carry out an execution involving the drug.
“The way executions have proceeded in the United States has been, in a sense, through the herd mentality: One state does something and it appears to work, and others hop on board,” said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a research group.
Most executions involving midazolam drew little sustained criticism, but problems emerged during some. In Ohio, a murderer’s execution took longer than previous injection-induced deaths in the state. Testifying later in Federal District Court in connection with a lawsuit over Ohio’s lethal injection protocol, a reporter said the prisoner had been “coughing, gasping, choking in a way that I had not seen before at any execution.”
Midazolam was also used in an execution in Oklahoma that state officials said had gone awry because of an improperly placed intravenous line. Critics said the episode still proved the inadequacy of midazolam’s effectiveness during lethal injections.
And in Arizona, the execution of Joseph R. Wood III took nearly two hours, long enough that a federal judge was holding an emergency hearing about the matter at the moment Mr. Wood died.
Good times. Incidentally, you can read my takes on each of these botched experiments in flesh and bone under the death penalty tag.

Predictably, the pro-death penalty types are pushing back, including a quote from my favorite pro-death penalty blogger.
Proponents also acknowledge that midazolam is far from a drug of choice for executions, but they blame abolitionists for effectively leaving states with limited choices.
“No state would use it if they could get the barbiturates,” said Kent S. Scheidegger, the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. “The opponents have created the situation where states are forced to use a drug that is not the optimum.”
Actually, it's the proponents that have created this situation in their zeal to keep killing inmates, but we digress. Banning lethal injection tomorrow would just have these folks calling for a return to the firing squad, hanging, or boiling in oil.

The article also mentions the brain-dead observation by Justice Alito from the Glossip decision “After all, while most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune. Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether,” without a trace of irony.

Nonetheless, all eyes remain on Arkansas starting in a few weeks. It will be interesting to see if there is a logjam at the death chamber doors if one of these guys starts flopping around on the gurney for a few hours. 

UPDATE: A good article (3/20/17) on what exactly can go wrong when you piggyback executions in order to "get the job done":
Mr. Lockett’s execution is a cautionary tale, not only about the failures of midazolam as an execution drug, but also about the perils of performing executions back to back. Oklahoma had planned to execute an inmate named Charles Warner the same day as Mr. Lockett, but canceled the second execution after the disastrous outcome of the first.
Investigators from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety subsequently interviewed the execution team and found that several of them commented on “the feeling of extra stress” for all staff created by scheduling two executions on the same day. The state’s report recommended that executions not be scheduled within seven calendar days of one another “due to manpower and facility concerns.”
If Arkansas were to heed the warning of Oklahoma’s investigators, it would schedule its eight executions over two months. Instead, Arkansas’s execution team, which has not performed an execution in over a decade and has never performed an execution with midazolam, faces a daunting and relentless schedule of two executions per day, repeated four times over 11 days. The pressure on the team will be immense, and it will make mistakes more likely in a situation in which there is no margin for error.
Good luck with that.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Crime As Political Capital (Part Bazillion)

Supreme Court Based Sex Offender Rulings on False Data:

The Supreme Court has indeed said the risk that sex offenders will commit new crimes is “frightening and high.” That phrase, in a 2003 decision upholding Alaska’s sex offender registration law, has been exceptionally influential. It has appeared in more than 100 lower-court opinions, and it has helped justify laws that effectively banish registered sex offenders from many aspects of everyday life.
But there is vanishingly little evidence for the Supreme Court’s assertion that convicted sex offenders commit new offenses at very high rates. The story behind the notion, it turns out, starts with a throwaway line in a glossy magazine.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion in the 2003 case, Smith v. Doe, cited one of his own earlier opinions for support, and that opinion did include a startling statistic. “The rate of recidivism of untreated offenders has been estimated to be as high as 80 percent,” Justice Kennedy wrote in the earlier case, McKune v. Lile.
He cited what seemed to be a good source for the statistic: “A Practitioner’s Guide to Treating the Incarcerated Male Sex Offender,” published in 1988 by the Justice Department.
The guide, a compendium of papers from outside experts, is 231 pages long, and it contains lots of statistics on sex offender recidivism rates. Many of them were in the single digits, some a little higher. Only one source claimed an 80 percent rate, and the guide itself said that number might be exaggerated.
The source of the 80 percent figure was a 1986 article in Psychology Today, a magazine written for a general audience. The article was about a counseling program run by the authors, and they made a statement that could be good for business. “Most untreated sex offenders released from prison go on to commit more offenses — indeed, as many as 80 percent do,” the article said, without evidence or elaboration.
That’s it. The basis for much of American jurisprudence and legislation about sex offenders was rooted in an offhand and unsupported statement in a mass-market magazine, not a peer-reviewed journal.
Interesting. I never knew where, exactly, the much disputed 80% claim had come from, but now we know: an article from a magazine you can buy in some grocery store aisle checkouts. 
There are many ways to calculate recidivism rates, and they vary depending on a host of distinctions. A 2014 Justice Department report found, for instance, that sex offenders generally have low overall recidivism rates for crimes. But they are more likely to commit additional sex offenses than other criminals.
In the three years after release from prison, 1.3 percent of people convicted of other kinds of crimes were arrested for sex offenses, compared to 5.3 percent of sex offenders. Those findings are broadly consistent with seven reports in various states, which found that people convicted of sex crimes committed new sex offenses at rates of 1.7 percent to 5.7 percent in time periods ranging from three to 10 years.
The Justice Department report said the risk of new sex offenses by convicted sex offenders rises over time, reaching 27 percent over 20 years.
That number is significant, but it is nothing like 80 percent. Perhaps it is sufficient to warrant harsh sex offender registry laws, but judges and lawmakers would have been better served by basing their judgments on the best available data.
Frankly, this data has been well-known for years in the criminological literature I've used in class, going back to at least 2003. Most recently Levenson & Cotter analyzed the effect of Megan's Law twenty years later, and reiterated again the extremely low recidivism rates among this population. The fact that it's still taken as article of faith in the courts and legal circles, that the recidivism rate for sex offenders is 80%, is astonishing.

So why does it persist? Because sex offending, sex offender registries, civil commitment, and chemical castration are hugely popular when it comes to the politics of punishment. Even though most children and young teens are more likely to be abused by someone they know, and the stranger to stranger crime is extremely rare, nothing generates fear, moral panic, and hysteria than cracking down on sex offenders.

It should be noted, as a word of caution, that the nature of this kind of sex offending is very sinister and below the radar. Meaning, because these offenders "groom" their victims, which can take years in some cases, much more offending could be going on than is showing up in arrest/recidivism rates.

But overall, in comparison to the general correctional populations, their rates of 3-5% for sex re-offending within three years (40% recidivism for all crimes generally) is nowhere near the 66% recidivism rate for all offenders getting out of prison. 

The turnstile reentry system we have is broken for ALL offenders in prison.