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National

Fixing a Non-Existent Problem with an Ineffective Solution [paper]

[uakron.edu]

Sex offender. This is an extremely consequential label, carrying with it a harsh—and often unjustified—stigma. Virgil McCranie certainly did not want this label. Virgil was 19 years old and his girlfriend Misty was 14 years old when they first had sex. But later, Misty learned that Virgil had cheated on her, so she told her father that she had slept with Virgil. Enraged, Misty’s father went to the police with this information; Virgil was subsequently charged with statutory rape. Because she was under the age of consent at the time she and Virgil had sex, Misty could not have legally consented. Alhough he ultimately avoided prison, Virgil agreed to a plea deal that required him to register as a sex offender.

Virgil and Misty eventually reconciled, married, and had children together. Virgil even received a pardon and is no longer registered as a sex offender. But the stigma associated with his sex-offender status followed Virgil for many years. He testified to the Florida Board of Executive Clemency that he had lost 17 jobs solely because of his sex-offender status. Before he was pardoned, Virgil’s name, address, picture, a map identifying where he lived, vehicle description, and license plate number were all posted on the state’s publicly accessible sex offender website. Yet, Virgil had never been charged with any other crimes. He was never found guilty, nor did he plead guilty to a sex offense. But because he was required to register as a sex offender, Virgil had to live with the onerous stigma of his sex-offender label—a stigma that his children also had to experience. On a daily basis, Virgil had to live with the harsh consequences—consequences bearing a striking resemblance to punishment—that accompanied his sex-offender label.

Read the full paper [PDF]

 

Join the discussion

  1. JL

    This is a tremendous treatise on the registry issue. To me it illustrates the confirmation bias of the Smith court as well as many courts thereafter. The Smith court and subsequent courts believe so much in the idea that the recidivism rates are “frightening and high” that the courts perform no research into the allegations. It is common knowledge that this is true just as the common belief before Columbus was that the world was flat. The parallel is the same, ignorance reigns supreme. This is an excellent article.

  2. Mike G

    This is a great paper! What a lot of work must have gone into this, which I assume must be his doctoral thesis. He certainly should get his Juris Doctorate degree (or whatever it is called) after making this kind of effort.
    I can’t imagine anyone reading the whole compilation and still thinking registries are a good thing. But, alas, the public will never see it, politicians can’t afford to pay any attention to it, and justices will ignore it to avoid public criticism.
    I won’t live long enough to see it, but I hope one day all of our descendents will receive some sort of reparations for what we have been, and continue to be, forced to live with.

  3. AlexO

    I don’t understand how we can have overwhelming and real evidence to the huge mistake that Smith (and registry as a whole) was yet have all courts refuse to hear it, let alone actually rectify the issue. This chips away every day at what little faith I have left that America is anywhere close to the great nation it believes itself to be. If we can’t have a real justice system, nothing else really matters in the end.

    What do we really have to do to make the people in charge of it all listen? Why don’t we have an FDA for the justice system? Imagine if we released food and medicine with the same “It sounds legit and that’s good enough to implement. And damn the evidence that people are being hurt by this every single day.”

    I understand not wanting to change something on speculation. But its no longer speculation. Our judges and law makers simply and blatantly choose to ignore it. And not only are they choosing to ignore it, but continue to layer it on and on and on. If the registry was a cake, it would be 100 feet tall and be made of solid frosting to the dismay of every doctor and nutritionalist in the world.

    • CR

      People don’t like to admit their mistakes. SCOTUS is no different. Perhaps they are even less apt to gainsay themselves.

      Haven’t you ever noticed that prosecutors and police, when faced with emerging overwhelming evidence showing that a “criminal” is innocent still steadfastly maintain that the person is guilty? Haven’t you noticed that they never apologize or try to make amends after the fact when they are shown to be wrong?

      It’s human nature, I guess. I don’t know if there is a solution.

      • MJ

        We already have a solution – it’s already in the US Constitution.
        https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/bill+of+attainder

        BILL OF ATTAINDER, legislation, punishment. An act of the legislature by which one or more persons are declared to be attainted, and their property (including your body) confiscated.
        2. The Constitution of the United States declares that no state shall pass any bill of attainder.
        3. During the revolutionary war, bills of attainder, and ox post facto acts of confiscation, were passed to a wide extent. The evils resulting from them, in times of more cool reflection, were discovered to have far outweighed any imagined good. Story on Const. Sec. 1367. Vide Attainder; Bill of Pains and Penalties.
        The Free Dictionary

        Megans, SONRA, AngelWatch, DOJ, Interpol – the are all making and passing around bills of attainder.

        It’s about war the on the “sex offender”.

        • Tim Moore

          MJ, when clearer heads return, sooner or later, they will determine the same, that registry laws don’t amount to public well being. I’m not sure I will live to see armistice day in the war on sex, it’s got so many people profiting politically and financially off of it, but eventually traits that are counter evolutionary get expelled from the species, or the species itself declines and fades because they can’t change in the face of facts.

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