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Is Our Approach to Sex Offender Risk and Policy on the Mark?

Sex offender registration laws and policies appear to have been based on popular misconceptions regarding sex offenders. That is, law and policy were based on the premise that ALL sex offenders are a danger to society, a danger to children, strangers to their victims, and likely to reoffend (Levenson & D’Amora, 2007).

However, this is not the case. Full Editorial

Join the discussion

  1. Q

    This is a good article and Michelle Beshears actually did some research with citations, unlike other articles I’ve read where the author just spouts out misconceptions, half truths and outright lies, as well as leaving out information vital to getting a clear idea and forming an accurate opinion.

    I am a bit leery of accepting the numbers she gives for missing or fugitive registrants. I think she needs to seek out other sources and compare the numbers. I do like her comparison of recidivism for registrants with recidivism for other crimes. I can accept the 5.3% for registrants, which doesn’t justify the harsh treatment registrants receive. The mere fact that recidivism for registrants is 5.3% compared to 74% for burglars, 75% for larceny and 70% for theft, screams the fact that all the draconian laws, conditions and penalties registrants and their families face are not justified and need to be reformed.

    I think this is just one more scholar saying it’s not right to destroy someones life because it’s thought they might commit another crime.

  2. someone who cares

    Very good article about something that should be common sense anyways. The majority of so called “sex offenders” should not be treated like the real predators. After all, focus should be on protecting our children and not on people who committed offenses that had nothing do with harming children or children altogether. With so many new offenses being added to the list of “sex crimes”, it becomes harder and harder for law enforcement to keep track of those who are actual dangers to society and children. Let’s make a change to all this so more children can be protected. It becomes so overwhelming to monitor everyone deemed a “sex offender” when the real sex offender can lay low and feel more protected as the focus is on so many others. It is actually counterproductive to make all these offenses that have nothing to do with minors a sex crime.

  3. Tim

    Let’s just call it like it is. The Megan’s Laws and their spawn are nothing more than public hysteria made into law. Even on this site people believe there are roving bands of predators out there to which these laws apply. It’s just a matter of finding the right villains? These laws are shown to have no deterrence to those very rare cases of horrendous abductions and murders everyone fears. Yet the myth exists and the public delusion is enhanced with each new sex offender law.
    Meanwhile our system of laws is in danger. If any group can be defined arbitrarily as dangerous, then any group can be defined as arbitrarily dangerous. In the end you can’t pick and choose.
    Also, a more effective system of justice employs both punishment and reward to affect changes in personal choice. It was the basic idea driving our capitalist system before that became corrupt. Hard work and sacrafice lead to personal gain. How many of us have led law abiding lives and willingly fullfilled the requirements only to find the public wishes to renew and redefine the punishment, making it more extreme. Would this not tend to create criminals out of those on the path to rehabilitation, turn those who would contribute to the moral and physical prosperity of the nation into moral and physical wards of the State, finding themselves at war with their neighbors for the rest of their lives.

  4. ab

    Kernels of decent points were made in the article and I give the author credit for doing the research to mention them. Unfortunately the answer to: is our approach to sex offender risk and policy being on the mark?, is no not yet.

    To be blunt all criminal policy needs to be connected to victim policy. Phrased another way; post conviction risk assessment and policy means nothing if pre-offense prevention is almost non-existent. What good is it to advocate stopping something a second time if serious efforts are not made to stop something from happening in the first place? Here’s the deal: if we don’t want more predators/dangerous individuals or repeat offenders then we must strive to prevent their creation and the creation of potential victims. This cannot be ignored if anyone hopes to really solve such problems in the long run.

    Oh and this means as a society we must be able to discuss such problems openly without the conversation turning into a series of attacks from either side. Addressing sex offender risk and policy first requires addressing the roots to why we decided to address these things as an afterthought in the first place. Laws don’t truly insure something won’t happen and merely treating our problems after the fact seems to be failing fairly consistently across the board to promote a lower frequency of objectionable activity in the future. In closing let’s stop being so narrow minded and get to work.

  5. G4Change

    We need more people like Michelle Beshears elected to office instead of the coward Kool-Aid-drinking sheeple shepherds that we currently have in Sacramento!!!!!!

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