Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday Globe Flashback: Doin' Time

"Tracking violent ex-cons: Registries grow, but do they work?" by John Seewer Associated Press  October 29, 2016

TOLEDO, Ohio — In the desperate hours after a University of Toledo student disappeared while bicycling this summer, her friends scanned the state’s list of sex offenders and started knocking on doors. But their search didn’t lead them down the road to an ex-convict who had spent time in prison for abducting another woman, because he had never been convicted of a sex crime.

Now the family of Sierah Joughin, who investigators say was abducted and killed by a neighbor with a hidden past, wants Ohio lawmakers to follow the lead of at least seven other states that track all sorts of violent offenders.

‘‘If you’re trying to get back in society and you’re trying to be a productive member of society, you have to own what you did,’’ said Joughin’s mother, Sheila Vaculik. ‘‘You’re there for a reason, and you put yourself there for a reason.’’

The emotional pull of crimes that spawned sex offender registries in the 1990s has brought about these more publicly accessible lists that keep tabs on a wider range of offenders — from murderers to meth users — once they’re out of prison. A nationwide review by The Associated Press found that such registries have grown over the past decade and that more proposals are being considered.

Backers say helping people know more about their neighbors will make them safer. Yet studies have shown offender registries do little to reduce crime.

Anti-domestic violence groups in states that have considered expanded registries suggest that money spent to maintain them would be better used on programs to stop violence before it happens. Keeping lists updated costs well over $1 million each year for many states, a price partially covered by fees offenders must pay.

Maybe we should make them wear a star or something. Or better yet, just kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out. Sorry for the over-the-top sarcasm.

Some researchers contend the lists, searchable online, can prevent offenders from finding jobs and homes, making it more likely they’ll offend again.

‘‘When someone comes out of prison, we want them to be successful,’’ said Alissa Ackerman, a criminal justice professor at the University of Washington. ‘‘We want them to be part of society. Putting people on registries like this makes it next to impossible to do.’’

Vincent Brumley, who was released from an Illinois prison in 2015 after serving 27 years for his role with two others who kidnapped and killed a man, said few employers will give him a chance after he tells them of his past and they learn he’s on the state’s registry.

‘‘That’s all they see me as,’’ he said. ‘‘They don’t know what I was convicted of, or if I was guilty. I did my time. Why hold me back?’’

You killed someone?


Had a better chance finding work in prison.