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Deadly collateral consequences of the “non-punitive” sex offender registry

[narsol.org 6/18/18]

By Michael M . . . It is easy for some people to feel that no matter how oppressive the hardships imposed upon former sex offenders may be, they probably deserved it. The most common refrain we see posted by unsympathetic social media commentators typically contains some variation of, “He (or she) should have thought of that before they committed their crimes!” While such a response may be emotionally satisfying for the person who makes such a statement, the unspoken assumption is that any punishment, no matter how cruel, can be justified by the fact that you’ve committed a crime, no matter how trivial. Oh, so you were beheaded for jaywalking? Well, you should have thought about that before you stepped outside the crosswalk!

It also completely ignores the plight of the innocent bystanders who often bear the brunt of our country’s draconian sex offender registration laws. The families, friends, employers, landlords, and associates of former sex offenders often become the unintended casualties of the current wave of anti-sex-offender hysteria sweeping the nation. Recent studies have begun referring to these tangential victims as “collateral damage,” as if we were talking about accidentally backing the car into the neighbor’s mailbox, rather than the complete destruction of innocent people’s lives.

By the way, it isn’t just the families and associates of sex offenders who suffer. Most of the states will admit that their sex offender registries are difficult to maintain and contain inaccuracies. One study discovered that as many as 25% of the addresses on the registry were incorrect, which resulted in the addresses of family homes where no one was a registered sex offender being listed on the registry. A Detroit, Michigan couple didn’t learn that their address was incorrectly listed on the registry until they tried to sell their home. They reported the error to the local police, who told them that nothing could be done about the problem until they tracked down the former owner who bought the house three years previously from a registered sex offender.

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  1. Eric

    If you Youtube California democratic senator Kamala Harris questioning secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielson you will hear her adamantly and viscerally saying that psychologists have proven that keeping children away from their parents is psychologically damaging and she will not stand for it. She is literally about to lose it with her defense that children should never be separated. She, of course, is referring to the current border crisis. but I would challenge everyone at this ideal time to point out to her how many of us on the registry are separated from our families. My woman has rental properties and she lives on the grounds so if I register that address as my residence then any prospective tenants doing an SO search will see that an SO lives there. So I cannot stay there. Fortunately I don’t have children or they would be caught in this insanity. My SO treatment therapist said the most important thing for me is to develop healthy relationships with people, especially women. Yet the registry forbids me from having that normal, healthy relationship. So does Kamala Harris mean what she says? are ALL children important to her, or just those crossing the border. I would like to know.

    • Chuck

      Eric
      You’re correct. My children in America don’t have the same rights as immigrant children crossing American borders. Are immigrant children permitted to have their parents with them during schooling; and if so why? Should we be as suspicious of immigrants as we are of the lowest American criminals? Or should they be given the benefit of the doubt? That’s certainly a value they’ve left out of their dealing’s with us. And we’re American’s! If I was a foreigner i’d stay far away from American borders. We (America) don’t have any idea what empathy or human rights are & no care for what anyone’s been through. You might be able to escape your problems coming here but you’re going to have a whole new set of problems to deal with.

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