State issues report on felony sex offenders
The Alaska Dept. of Public Safety has issued the 2016 report to state and local law enforcement agencies on felony level sex offenses and crimes in Alaska. The report, FSO for short, adds to the Uniform Crime Report managed by the FBI.
The report shows Western Alaska overtopping other regions of the state with the greatest rate of incidents—446.4— per 100,000 persons, taken from an actual reported incidents of 329 in a population of 73,696, based on Census Bureau’s estimates.
In comparison, the 2016 report shows rates figured per 100,000 for other regions: Anchorage Bowl, second highest with 262 felony level sex offenses; followed by Southeast Alaska, 126; Northern Alaska, 99, Southcentral (excluding Anchorage) with 66 per 100,000 persons.
The document sent to the governor and attorney general shows a total of 1,542 reported incidents in 2016, a 14 percent increase over the 1,352 reported in 2015. An increase in reporting may not mean an increase in actual crimes, according Walt Monegan, DPS commissioner, in a cover letter. Increased reporting could have stemmed from education, outreach and public awareness made priorities by the DPS Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Monegan said.
Statewide, the Alaska Native females were reported to have the highest prevalence of sex offense victimization across all age groups. Statewide, the median age of female victims was 19-years-old, while the most common age was 14-years-old. The median age of male victims was 12-years-old. Five years old was the most common age of male victims.
The statistics take on real lives for Barb Amarok of Bering Sea Women’s Group.
“We see the actual trauma to those who experience sex assault and domestic violence, and how it changes people’s lives,” Amarok said. “It’s horrendous. People need to come together and do something.”
The shelter provides trauma-informed services and information for women, children and men who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes.
The report shows the most common victim is a 14-year-old female assaulted in a residence, by the most common suspect, a 19-year-old male acquaintance. The 2015 report shows the most common victim was a 15-year-old female.
The report cautions comparing data between FSO statistics, the Uniform Crime Report and the Alaska Victimization Survey conducted by UAA Justice Center and modeled a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each survey features separate data collection efforts with different ways of aggregating incidents and victims.
The crime report, UCR for short, focuses on totaling the number of times a person is victimized, while the FSO quoted in this article counts the number of offenses against a victim. For example, a person raped repeatedly by a single offender would generate several rape offenses in the FBI’s UCR program; the same situation would show up in the FSO program as a single victim with Alaska law violations reported.
Additionally, the FSO collects more specific information about each reported offense—victim and suspect demographic information, victim and suspect relationship information, weapon type and location of the assault. This is the second year the state has published information from the FSO database.
The wedges on pie charts show all victims by sex—12 percent male to 87 percent female; all victims by age—0 to 10-years- old, 18 percent, 11 to 17-years-old, 30 percent, ages 18 years and over, 50 percent, with two percent of victims of unknown ages.
By race, the greater number of victims reported are Alaska Native—54 percent; White—30 percent; Black—three percent; Asian—three percent, and 10 percent race unknown.
The Western Alaska region for purposes of the FSO survey calls on local police departments and Alaska State Trooper C detachment. The population includes five boroughs—Aleutians East, Bristol Bay, Kodiak Island, Lake and Peninsula, and Northwest Arctic, and census areas—Aleutians West, Bethel, Dillingham, Kusilvak, and Nome Census Area.
In Western Alaska, the most common victim age was 14-years-old; 27-years-old the most common suspect age. Alaska Native made up the largest victim race—92 percent.
Not all reported incidents included weapons used or location of the offenses. Of sex offenses reported statewide, 85 percent did not involve a weapon. Fifteen percent sex offenses involved use of hands, fists or feet. Four percent involved drugs or narcotics. followed in lesser percentages by asphyxiation, knife or cutting instrument, fire arm, handgun or blunt instrument. Seventy-four percent statewide occurred in a residence.
The most commonly reported violation reported statewide was sexual assault—63 percent; sexual abuse of a minor—28 percent; child pornography—three percent; sex trafficking—one percent. The remaining five percent of violations comprised offenses against minors distributing indecent material, indecent exposure, online enticement of a minor, and unlawful exploitation of a minor. A small portion of the five percent pertained to kidnapping and incest.
The City of Nome is considering an ordinance that would reverse a stance against housing untreated sex offenders at Seaside halfway house where the state Dept. of Corrections staff wishes to establish a sex offender treatment program for prisoners. Kawerak Wellness program along with Norton Sound Health Corp. Behavioral Health Dept. favor making sex offender programs more available in Nome.
The Bering Sea Women’s Group does not take a position on whether the treatment program should be at Seaside Center, Amarok said, but very much supports treatment and programs in Nome. However, any program for perpetrators of sex crimes should be mandatory with consequences for not participating, Amarok told the Nome Common Council at its most recent meeting. A treatment program would lower repeated offenses, she said. BSWG, which has a shelter for women and a safe home for men, has presented training on handling sex assault and domestic violence attended by Nome Police Dept. and other organizations, including sessions on strangulation as a form of assault.
What programs exist to address sex offenses in Nome? Are there programs in the planning stages?