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Opinion: Public sex offender registries, like one created with Megan’s Law, are often unfair and ineffective: magazine editor

Jacob Sullum, senior editor at Reason magazine, writes that sex offender databases are both over- and under-inclusive, and often fail to distinguish between dangerous predators and those with nonviolent offenses. Further, one survey found that 90% of sexually abused minors were assaulted by relatives or acquaintances, not strangers. Full Opinion Piece

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  1. Tired of hiding

    A rare voice of reason who actually uses facts (imagine that) in the discussion of the sex offender list and it’s failures. It’s always nice to read I just wish that more people would “get it” instead of mindlessly being manipulated by politicians who use this topic year after year to deflect the spotlight from real issues and use it to appear to be “tough on crime”.

    Thank you for using your voice to speak the truth that these lists are not effective. That they destroy lives and no effect other than causing MORE victims!

    • Q

      Agreed. It is indeed a good fact based article. A little mentioned fact in this article is that states must maintain registries as a condition of receiving federal law enforcement funding.
      I wonder if anyone will ever ever try to go at the unconstitutional registries on the federal level. And how much money do the cops in any state need anyway? And for what; it’s obviously not going top training. Just take a look at how many people are shot and killed by some scared cop each and every day all across the country!

  2. Robert Curtis

    According to the FBI’s definition of what a domestic terrorist is the sex offender registry is clearly described as such. It fits all three requirements in the stated definition. So we as registrants are forced under color of law to being victimized by clearly defined acts of terrorism.

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/terrorism/terrorism-definition

  3. James Townsend

    Jacob Sullum seems to be the man of the hour and his article is inspiring. You know John Walsh always said on America’s Most Wanted”, You can make a difference. I salute this man that published this article as he is one hundred percent correct and his article should inspire others in taking a stand and voicing their view’s.
    They bible says’ one can do nothing for against the truth but for the truth and I still hope American’s go by what the bible says. I even hope the supreme court’s go by what the bible says’ but it seems like we have two different types of people today…. We the people and We the Government. Now the sex registry has its purpose but it is vague……… they classify would be predators caught in undercover stings as those that actually had a victim. Even texting is classified as being worthy of the sex registry or anything that show’s sexual content today that the public might take as not right than they call the local police and complain and than your in a world of trouble just for mooning or flashing or some other things such as the sting operations with fictitious victims.

  4. sérviam

    “Ensuring public safety is…a fundamental regulatory goal, and this objective should be given serious weight…But, at the same time, it would be naive to look no further, given pervasive attitudes toward sex offenders, (Ex Post Facto Clause was meant to prevent “arbitrary and potentially vindictive legislation”). The fact that the Act uses past crime as the touchstone, probably sweeping in a significant number of people who pose no real threat to the community, serves to feed suspicion that something more than regulation of safety is going on; when a legislature uses prior convictions to impose burdens that outpace the law’s stated civil aims, there is room for serious argument that the ulterior purpose is to revisit past crimes, not prevent future ones.
    — Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter (Smith v. Doe (2002))

  5. Robert Curtis

    There is an unintended consequence to having an extremely punitive sex offender registry and that is most offenses are committed by family members and those know to the victim. By the registry being punitive against families and not just to individuals doesn’t it seem logical that victims will not report abuses in order to protect their family as a whole? So, the punitive nature of the registry by default becomes it’s own worst enemy.

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