Courtsey of Boing Boing

Boing Boing: Websites displaying homes, photos of sex offenders: creepy:

The folks at Boing Boing find a map that shows where registered sex offenders have reported where they live and work. A google search can show a few more google-map hacks of something similar. Since I blog about this a lot, I figured I’d share a few things:

Registered sex offenders in Illinois attending any institution of higher learning, or who work at any institute of higher learning, are required to inform the police (or sheriff) of the jurisdiction that their institution is in. In other words, if you go to College in Chicago and you’re a registered sex offender, you have to go to 35th and Michigan and register. All changes of status in school (commencement, termination, quite possibly even semester break) must also be reported within 10 days.

What I would like to point out is from the comments section…

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This comment, Reader comment: Jonathan Martin says,

It’s interesting to note that (at least in my state) there’s a higher concentration of “dots” in lower income areas. That says one of the following:
– sex criminals are more likely poorer
– poorer people are more likely to be sex criminals
– that richer people get away away with it (i.e.: hire better lawyers)
– that richer victims are less likely to report crimes, poorer more likely
– the higher concentration could be caused my denser population in those areas
– or none of the above

I’m certainly not suggesting a correlation between income and crime, just an observation.

Brings up issues that most people are unwilling to discuss when talking about sex offenders and registration. First of all, sexual assault does not typically have anything to do with money, it has to do with power and control. Secondly, not all sex offenders are “anger rapists,” which is the typical view of sex offenders. Instead, most sex offenders are methodical in their planning, earning the victim’s trust and then abusing it in horrific ways. The registries do not touch upon that fact. In fact, they seem to support the idea of Stranger Danger–random abductions. Stranger Danger assaults happen to be one of the most rare forms of sexual assault.

Also, there is a significant disparity between affluent and poor neighborhoods when it comes to registered sex offenders. For example, in my neighborhood, most of the registered sex offender who were in prison were either black or hispanic. Most of the white sex offenders were allowed to still live in the community. This is a direct contradiction to the FBI statistics on sex offenders, which suggests that sex offenders are more likely to be white than any other ethnic group. For the record, I live in Lakeview.

The difference between, say, Englewood and the suburb of La Grange, is even more striking. In my experience, a kid in La Grange is more likely to be “diverted” out of the system or given a lesser charge (like battery) than a kid from Englewood.

Again, I can go on and on about this; my point is to say that this topic needs to be brought up more. The fact remains that sexual assault is still one of the most underreported crimes in this country–as many as 2/3s go unreported. The public needs to talk about this more than it does–and questions need to be raised. Registration looks good, but does it really help? Has it encouraged victims to disclose? Are those disparities that the commenter eluded too (and I out right stated) a symptom of something more significant, or is it just a fluke?

One more thing: Here are some numbers in case you, or someone you love, needs help dealing with sexual assault:

Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center: 800-25-ABUSE (this is the DCFS Hotline)
Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline: (888) 293-2080
Illinois Coalltion Against Sexual Assault: (217) 753-4117

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