Assumptions Are ‘News’ at KETV-Channel 7

UPDATE: Another thoughtful perspective on this issue.

Omaha TV station KETV-Channel 7 is the latest to buy into myth and lie about former sex offenders. A law enforcement PR piece about those extra-legal home-invasion visits to former offenders quotes one of the officers:

“I assume that they’re reoffending, that they’re dropping off the radar because they don’t want law enforcement to know what they’re doing.”

KETV’s report is shallow and one-sided. If the reporter had bothered to talk with Lisa Sample, Ph.D., or Ryan Spohn, Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Omaha researchers who are actually looking at facts on the issue, some other reasons for the relatively small number of wrong addresses might come to light:

The research shows that former offenders in Nebraska have a year-to-year reoffense rate of less than 1 percent. It shows that Nebraska’s public shaming website drives people from their homes. The City of Omaha has a residency restriction ordinance that illegally created a new classification of  “predator” — some harmless people with misdemeanors fall under the classification. Why not assume someone’s been evicted because of the ordinance? That’s just as likely or more likely than the reoffending.

Nebraskans Unafraid has documented cases where a former offender has reported the correct address to a local sheriff, but the address still ends up listed incorrectly on the registry because of a clerical error. An offender might go to prison because of a clerical error. It is as easy to assume someone in a short-staffed law enforcement office is messing things up as it is to assume that a former offender is reoffending.

KETV-Channel 7 uses one instance to support the line being fed to it by law enforcement. There was a time when people who claimed to be reporting news sifted information for facts and when someone gave them an assumption, they would try to find out if the assumption is correct. And if there was credible information that disproved the assumption, one of two things happened: 1) The assumption would not be reported without the balancing information, or 2) the assumption AND the information disproving it would be reported.

We recommend to KETV the research that is being conducted at UNO.

Until there is credible evidence to the contrary, we can safely assume that law enforcement again hoodwinked KETV into doing a story that seems to justify extra-legal home invasions of people who have paid for their crimes and only want to rebuild their lives.