Sunday, October 6, 2013

Real Estate Sales in Virginia: Does Having a Registered Sex Offender Down the Street Matter?

Dear Longwood University Study Authors, 

When your first study on Registered Sex Offenders and the Real Estate market in Virginia came out in 2010 I don’t believe I reached out to you. 

But your recent follow-up study/report Neighborhood Tipping and Sorting Dynamics in Real Estate: Evidence from the Virginia Sex Offender Registry that has been covered in the last few days by WTVR and the Virginian Pilot requires me to contact you. 

The report begins with “Given the potential risk of recidivism”….. as if the rate of risk is extremely high. 

Well the fact is the recidivism rate for Registered Sex Offenders is the second lowest of ALL crimes. 

National U.S. Recidivism (Re-Offense) Rates for Criminal Offenses, 3 years After Release 

1.         Vehicle Thefts, 78.8%*
2.        Selling stolen property, 77.4%*
3.        Burglary, 74%*
4.        Larceny, 74.6%*
5.        Possessing stolen weapons, 70.2%*
6.        Robbery, 70.2%*
7.         Domestic Battery, 41%**
8.        Drugs, 27%*
9.        Rape 2.5%* / Sexual Assault or Rape 5.3%**
10.    Murder 1.2%*

*   - 2002 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics              **   - 2003 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics
** - 2000 Edward Gondolf, Reassault at 30-Months after Batterer Program Intake, 44 Int'l J. of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology

Public perception might be of a high re-offense rate but in reality that is false.

You go on to predict “clustering” and “tipping” of neighborhoods in Virginia. 

That happens in other states because of expansive residency restrictions that include numerous locations, large diameters and cities and counties imposing their own restrictions in an attempt to out-do the neighboring city/county to chase the Registered Sex Offenders out of their area. “Pocket-parks” occur in states like Texas, Florida and California, not in Virginia. In those  states that have allowed such expansive inclusions in residency restrictions they have created a large homeless population of Registered Sex Offenders which then leads to untraceable offenders and new crimes being committed out of desperation to survive. 

Whereas a Registered Offender with a residence and a job is a compliant/registered offender who will not re-offend. After all the original reason for the registry was to know where the offender lives. 

Here in Virginia the residency restrictions are limited to a small number of offenders, the distance is not expansive and the list of locations is limited. For the last 5 years I have opposed numerous proposals at the Virginia General Assembly session attempting to increase these measures and I have done so by delivering facts as opposed to myth. 

Your report/study is titled Neighborhood Tipping and Sorting Dynamics in Real Estate: Evidence from the Virginia Sex Offender Registry but yet you reference North Carolina, Florida, Ohio and Illinois 

No two states monitor, register or mange Registered Sex Offenders the same so I don’t see how intermingling information from other states into a Virginia report can produce an accurate summary/conclusion.