Research on sex offender laws and their effects on people and society

Count Analysis of the US Registries
by Marshall Burns, Ph.D. 
Additional background for the SOLR report, Counting and Over-Counting Sex Offenders

Analysis of the number of sex offenders found on a selection of US registries, comparing those numbers to published counts of the registries.

The table below reports on the results of original research on the registries in fourteen US jurisdictions, involving direct counts of registry records, and comparing the results to published figures.

The results found that the published figures in 2007, on average, over-reported the number of sex offenders in the tested jurisdictions by approximately 23,000 out of a total of 157,000, or by 13 percent. If that figure can be generalized to the national total reported in 2008 (see related background report, Published Counts of the US Registries), that total should be reduced from about 640,000 to 557,000. Further research is needed to determine a reasonably accurate count.

In applying the same correction to the derived measures (% and Men per columns in the Published Counts table), the percentage of the US population that is on the registries remains at approximately 0.2 percent (adjusts from 0.21 to 0.19%) and the number of adult men in the population per adult male registered sex offender (men per SO man) adjusts from 190 to 220. This means that approximately one out of every 220 adult men in the United States is a registered sex offender.

See the Explanation and Sources of the Table below.

Count Analysis of the US Registries
RegistryPublishedComparative Analysis
2007OffendersDiff                    Data Notes                              Source Notes          
NCMEC/PMLShown/Total
Alabama9,085
8,943
4,985 /
(unknown)
n/aPublic site excludes juvenile sex offenders. “Shown” count reduced from 5,178 by 167 incarcerated, 26 out of state (4%).As of 2007 08 19. Number of “shown” is from count of records collected by county (67 pages).
Alaska4,375
3,032
4,203 /
(same)
-500
-12%
Unknown number of nonsexual child kidnappers included. No exclusions from public site indicated. “Shown” count reduced from 4,240 by 37 incarcerated (1%).As of 2007 08 20. Number of “shown” is from count of records collected from alphabetical listing (43 pages).
Arizona14,319
14,260
3,165 /
(unknown)
n/aPublic site includes Level 2 (risk assessment intermediate) and 3 (high) sex offenders. “Shown” count reduced from 3,166 by 1 dead (0%).As of 2007 08 20. Number of “shown” is from count of records (2940) collected by zip code (294 pages out of 512 had offenders), plus page of absconders (226).
Arkansas7,631
7,612
2,158 /
(unknown)
n/aPublic site includes Level 3 (risk assessment high) and 4 (sexually violent predator) sex offenders and excludes offenders not yet assessed as to risk level. “Shown” count reduced from 2,883 by 79 dead, 5 deported, 339 incarcerated, 302 out of state (25%).As of 2007 08 20. Number of “shown” is from count of records on full listing (1 page).
California111,349
87,706
64,000 /
86,000
13,528
14%
Total of more than 86,000 people required to register as sex offenders. Public site includes over 33,500 with their home addresses and 30,500 with only zip code, city, and county, and excludes approximately 22,000 others (including juveniles).As of 2008 04 18. Numbers of offenders stated on website.
Colorado9,585
11,369
5,903 /
9,583
894
9%
Public website excludes misdemeanor-only and juvenile sex offenders, but they are included in the complete registry available by mail on CD for $20. “Total” count reduced from 9,587 by 4 incarcerated (0%).As of 2007 09 16. Number of “shown” was stated when search performed on 2007 08 20 with no criteria. “Total” is count of records provided on CD dated 2007 08 27.
Connecticut4,725
4,725
4,713 /
(same)
12
0%
No exclusions from public site indicated.As of 2007 08 20. Number of offenders is the sum of the number of records reported on the full listing page (4,598) plus the number of records on the listing of out-of-state convictions (115).
Delaware3,308
3,307
2,013 /
3,308
-1
0%
Registry includes people convicted after June 27, 1994 of sex offenses. Public site includes Tier 2 (risk assessment intermediate) and 3 (high) sex offenders. Of 790 offenders, 670 (85%) are Tier 2 and 120 are Tier 3.As of 2007 08 20. Number of “shown” is stated when selecting "View All Registered Sex Offenders". Discrepancy: Only 1124 records displayed. Furthermore, only 790 of those are for different people because of multiple entries for aliases. Awaiting reply to e-mail asking about the discrepancy. In phone call to website's contact number on August 27, 2007, was given total of 3,308 sex offenders.
District of Columbia696
696
654 /
694
2
0%
Public site includes Class A and B sex offenders, not Class C. Registry excludes juveniles.As of 2007 08 21. Number of “shown” is from the indicated number of records on full listing (1 page). Total number given at bottom of individual SO info pages.
Florida39,780
43,590
35,407 /
(same)
6,278
15%
Registry includes sex offenders released from custody or probation after October 1, 1997. It does not include juveniles unless they were tried as an adult or moved from another state where registration is required. No exclusions from public site indicated.As of 2007 08 21. Phone call to website's contact number on August 21, 2007 yielded the following data: 29,473 offenders plus 5,934 predators. These are for people with addresses in the state, including those incarcerated in-state. Totals for in- and out-of-state, which include those who have moved out of state, been deported, or incarcerated out-of-state, are: 38,444 offenders and 6,459 predators. The numbers also include people who died within the past year, after which they are removed.
Georgia14,333
14,257
10,955 /
(same)
3,340
23%
Registry includes sex offenders released from custody or probation after July 1, 1996, who stay on it for either ten years or life, depending on offense(s). No exclusions from public site indicated. “Shown” count reduced from 14,307 by 1 deported, 1,265 incarcerated, 2,086 out of state (23%).As of 2007 08 21. Number of offenders from count of database downloaded from website. Age-based data are approximate because only the year of birth is given.
Hawaii2,500
2,382
2,338 /
(unknown)
n/aRegistry includes sex offenders and non-sexual offenders against minors [846E-1] (but count of latter is zero). Public site includes all registrants from the time of conviction and for between ten and forty years thereafter, depending on the offense(s), but excludes one-time, misdemeanor-only offenders [846E-3]. The case notes for Statute 846E-3 seem to indicate that the public access provisions have been found to violate the state constitution, yet the information remains online. “Shown” count reduced from 1,702 by 83 out of state (5%).As of 2007 08 21. Number of offenders is the sum of the count of records returned for sex offenders in all zip codes (1,702) (search for "offenders against minors" returned no records) plus the number of records in the listing of non-compliant offenders (719).
Idaho3,003
2,866
2,999 /
(same)
-65
-2%
No exclusions from public site indicated.As of 2007 08 22. Number of offenders is the sum of the count of records collected for juvenile sex offenders by county from provided list (33 pages out of 44 had offenders) and the sum of the numbers of records indicated in a search for adult sex offenders by county (44 pages).
Kansas4,764
4,791
3,510 /
(unknown)
n/aPublic site excludes offenses prior to April 14, 1994. Includes sex (3,615), violent (205), and drug (1) offenders. All juveniles listed are as sex offenders. Top level listing has all data available. (The KASPER database also offered seems to include all people who are or have been jailed for anything. It includes name, picture, and offenses, but no address info and is not updated after release.) “Shown” count first reduced from 4,266 by 445 duplicate entries for people on for more than one offense (10%), then “Shown” count reduced from 3,821 by 105 incarcerated, 206 non-sex offenders (8%).As of 2007 08 17. Number of “shown” is from count of records collected by county from provided list (100 pages out of 105 had offenders).
Totals for 9 registries with known offender totals191,154
171,548
130,847 /
157,862
23,489
13%
 
 

Explanation and Sources of the Table

This section explains the data presented in the above table, Count Analysis of the US Registries, and discusses their sources.

For the Registry and Published columns, see the information in the explanation of the table of published counts. The counts in the Published column, as well as their color scheme, are the same as the corresponding data in the 2007 column of that table.

The Comparative Analysis columns present original data collected for this report. Fourteen jurisdictions have been analyzed so far.

The Offenders column presents original data collected on fourteen jurisdictions for this report. For six jurisdictions, a collection of all sex offender records available was downloaded from the public website and those records were counted directly (AK, AL, AR, AZ, GA, HI, KS). For five jurisdictions, the numbers of offenders were determined from totals given on the respective registry websites (CA, CT, DC) or in communication with the responsible jurisdiction agency (FL), or both (DE). For the remaining three jurisdictions, a combination of publicly stated counts and database counting was used (CO, HI, ID. For Colorado, the number of records on the public website was taken as stated there, while the number of offenders on the complete registry was obtained by counting the records on a CD procured from the state.). See the Source Notes column in the table for more details specific to each jurisdiction.

The Offenders column has two numbers in each cell. The top one is the number of people Shown on the public registry website for the jurisdiction, while the second is the Total number of people on the jurisdiction’s full registry, which is available to law enforcement and possibly for inspection by the public. In most cases, these people are all designated as “sex offenders” or “sexually violent predators.” However in some jurisdictions, the numbers also include other kinds of criminals, such as child kidnappers in Alaska and violent offenders and drug offenders in Kansas. If Total Offenders is indicated as “unknown,” that means the information on the registry for that jurisdiction says that some registered offenders are not included in the public listing, but does not give any way to know how many such people there are. If the Total is indicated as “same,” that means the information provided does not say that any offenders are left out of the website listing.

The data presented in the Offenders column were mostly collected in August 2007, which is the reason that they are being compared to registry counts published in 2007.

The Diff column gives the difference between the Published numbers and the Offenders: Total numbers, where applicable. If the Offenders: Total number is known, either as a separate number or as being the same as the Offenders: Shown, then it is subtracted from the average of the NCMEC and PML numbers for 2007. The difference is given as both a raw number and as a percentage of the 2007 average count. If the difference is a positive number, meaning that the published numbers are too large, then the difference is shown in red. If the percentage is 10 percent or greater, then it is shown in bold face.

The Data Notes column contains information that may explain the reasons for the differences. This column provides information from the jurisdiction about who is included and excluded from the registry and from the public website. It also explains how the data in the Offenders column were collected and calculated. Red type in this column indicates notes of problems that cause inaccuracies in the jurisdiction’s count of registered sex offenders. (See the types of problems listed in the primary report, Counting and Over-Counting Sex Offenders.) The text is in red bold if the problem is due to multiple listing of individual offenders, or accounts for 20 percent of the count or more, or is of unknown magnitude.

The Source Notes column gives information about the procurement of data specific to the jurisdiction.

 
This report posted on September 7, 2008, updated January 28, 2009.
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