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California

Do sex offender registries, like new ‘OffenderWatch,’ make us safer? (Op-Ed)

Today the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office announced it was launching “OffenderWatch,” a brand-new way to be scared of your neighbors. …

I have a few questions: Why? And what, exactly, are you to do with this information? Do you commit these names and faces to memory? What are you supposed to do when you meet one of these guys on the street? Do you instruct your kids to stay away from these homes? Are we supposed to keep an eye on them in some way? Should we organize patrols to watch them? Should we be careful not to hire them? Should we make sure they remain outsiders for the rest of their days? Full Opinion Piece

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  1. Anonymous Nobody

    Surely state law preempts any localities from posting sex offenders online. Seems to me 290 takes over that entire area of posting online, preempting counties and municipalities from doing so.

    In fact, this is pushing this information out. 290 explicitly bars localities from pushing out information to people except for specific registrants deemed to be of especially high risk, and then only to individuals or groups that would be affected, not to everyone all over the world online. Again, that would bar localities from making their own sex offender Websites postings the registrants.

  2. Q

    No; they don’t.

  3. Tired Of Hiding

    No, but a drunk driver registry (for habitual repeat offenders) or a murderer registry might…just might (although doubtful).

    New sex offenses are done the vast majority of the time by those whom the victim knows…NOT a stranger.

    Additionally, those on this list are the most likely NOT to reoffend. Watching them is a waste of time and simple provides a false sense of security which probably HAS DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTED to more children being abused THAN IT HAS PREVENTED.

    Yes, that’s right…your list has harmed more children than it has protected!

    • Anonymous Nobody

      Actually, Tired, I note that you accidentally just fell into the falsehood surrounding these laws for the registry and collateral disabilities are shrouded in: that they apply only to child molesters. And that is what the public thinks. That comes in your comment that:

      “New sex offenses are done the vast majority of the time by those whom the victim knows…NOT a stranger.”

      Actually, that point applies to child molesters. But there are lots of other sex offenses caught up in this, even plenty of misdemeanors. And the laws have been applied as one size fits all, they’re all the same.

      • Tim

        There are even significant differences in those who were convicted of crimes with a child victim (I prefer not to use labels in the present tense as if they are still committing a crime). The use of these broad labels were not used that much three decades ago to classify the convicted. You had done this or that. You weren’t this or that so much. The concept of the individual apart from the group is as hard to find today as a pay phone.

  4. ab

    Merely knowing or not knowing something does not make anybody safe. All information in of itself is neutral, how it is gathered and used will determine what power it has. Throughout the United States a serious misconception exists regarding sex offenders and most ex-offenders as a whole; it’s the notion that everyone can nicely fit under one governing umbrella. There are vast differences between a cocaine user and a cocaine dealer, just like a world of difference exists between someone who committed a hands on offense verses someone who committed a hands off offense.

    Know what really makes people safer? Action, yes I used that fantastic a word everyone likes to throw around. “Actions speak louder than words”, blah blah blah….here’s a novel idea; why don’t we throw some effort into preventing people from ever getting into a position where they eventually get labeled as a sex offender? Better yet, let us really advocate for ways to prevent (stop) sex offenses before they can ever occur. This is not about busting down someones door just prior to them raping another person or surrounding that creepy van seconds before a child enters it. No, we must go father back and prevent the rapist or kidnapper from becoming a kidnapper or a rapist. If this sounds like too much work, well enjoy a future where more bad crap happens and everyone complains but does nothing to address the root problems.

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