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Do Sex Offender Registries Reduce Recidivism?

No. Or at least that is what the empirical evidence and research on this issue shows. But that doesn’t mean we should not have them. The fact is that the registries don’t really do anything to improve public safety. They just make people feel safer and in control; unfortunately this is a false sense of security. Full Opinion Piece

[Paul Heroux is a state representative from Massachusetts.]

Join the discussion

  1. Harry

    Do I hear distant drums of common sense, or am I just dreaming?

    • Harry

      You are right Mike, that is why I said ‘distant drums’. I am giving this guy credit for trying to swim against the tide.

  2. Mike

    “Now, while I already discussed that registries are a false sense of security, that they take time away from what does work, and that there is no evidence that they reduce recidivism, there is reason to keep them. Parents and the public want to know who have committed sex offenses. And since all criminal records are public information, this information should not be suppressed.”

    Then the question becomes, with the public safety component removed from the equation, how does the registered citizens right to privacy weigh in the equation versus the parents and the public’s “want to know”?

    The civil law justification under the existing supreme court precedence ruled that “public safety” outweighed privacy rights. Without public safety on the registration side of the scale then your argument is simple curiosity outweighs privacy?

    I think not!!!

    Harry, I appreciate the arguments and see some hope that they’re being made, what I don’t like is the assumption that continuing registration is justified even without any public safety component being involved!!!

    – Mike

    • G4Change

      Mike, I agree with your comments. This guy makes a lot of sense in a lot of areas, but he stopped short of being a true advocate for reform by suggesting that we maintain the status quo. Even Patty Wetterling thinks the registries need to go private – as in law enforcement only as they once were. I suspect that his discretion in not advocating removal of registries has something to do with his desires to be reelected.

  3. Joe

    If criminal registries reduced recidivism, why have they not been created for all crimes?

    Not sure what else needs to be discussed past that question.

  4. Anonymous

    “Now, while I already discussed that registries are a false sense of security, that they take time away from what does work, and that there is no evidence that they reduce recidivism, there is reason to keep them. Parents and the public want to know who have committed sex offenses. And since all criminal records are public information, this information should not be suppressed.”

    You can tell the author thinks the registry should be abolished altogether. However, he’s still a tiny bit afraid of possibly backlash, so he had to put that it there, just so that he doesn’t appear too “pro sex offender.” But besides that, it is a good article, actually using common sense for once, and not hysteria.

  5. mike

    Here’s a perfect example where the real danger for children come from the parents and people they know. And these people will never get out of prison so any rso laws have zero effect towards real threats such as these.

  6. mike

    Sorry guess the link didn’t work. It was just another story of parents selling their kids for sex and filming it.

  7. brunello

    This guy writes as if the registries are nothing but names on a list. Not mentioned are all the major encumbrances that have been heaped onto the registrants: dwelling restrictions, presence restrictions, gps, internment on Halloween; and there are generally very serious penalties for failure to comply. His justification for advocating continuing the registries in the face of what he admits is their uselessness in reducing recidivism boils down to his one word, “öptics”. At least he’s honest about this. I would even call this politician brave to have gone as far as he did with this article.

  8. Timmr

    “Now, while I already discussed that registries are a false sense of security, that they take time away from what does work, and that there is no evidence that they reduce recidivism, there is reason to keep them. Parents and the public want to know who have committed sex offenses.”
    In non politic speak, the “reason” for the registry is to satisfy the public’s fear and ignorance.

  9. Jim

    Some of the public would also like to know where to buy illegal drugs, so why not create a list of sellers with names addresses and pictures and what drugs they sell.

  10. Q

    “They just make people feel safer and in control; unfortunately this is a false sense of security.”

    Hmm….I wonder why he forgot to mention that registries also incite hate and facilitate murder, assaults, harassment and property crimes, as well as doing absolutely nothing to protect, prevent or save anybody; child or adult? All this is well documented, just like the failure of registries to do anything good is well documented.

    “Second, registries and community notification do not do anything to change the behavior of the sex offender.”

    OK; now it’s getting stupid!It seems this gotta look good for the constituents joker has never heard of registrants withdrawing into themselves and avoiding relationships for fear of being “found out” or worse. He obviously has never that there are so many laws-statutes and ordinances designed to oppress (they call it public safety) registered citizens and the experience of trial, jail and then trying to live in a world that totally hates you and would rather see you die in a manner with the utmost pain, suffering and humiliation their sick and twisted minds can conjure up causes many registrants to suffer mental and emotional problems; some develop post traumatic stress syndrome because it can get so bad.

    “Now, while I already discussed that registries are a false sense of security, that they take time away from what does work, and that there is no evidence that they reduce recidivism, there is reason to keep them. Parents and the public want to know who have committed sex offenses. ”

    Reason to keep them?!?!?! His reasons are precisely why they should be done away with, or return to for LE eyes only. As previously stated; they facilitate murder and everything else already mentioned. This includes various harms to the children, wives and extended family of registrants. They are also being harassed, ostracized and much more ignorance based targeting by the sickos that have nothing better to do than troll the registries.

    Don’t be fooled by this fraud. He is just one more sicko seeking public acceptance and he is using us and the registry to achieve his goals. His logic is nothing but thinly veiled self seeking.

  11. Will Allen

    I only see a few comments on the article itself. It is a shame that people who post their opinions here do not share them with the world. I expect people who come across that article think there is not much interest in it. I expect they might think that the dumb “sex offenders” don’t read or write after all and everyone else supports the Sex Offender Registries, so that is why there are no comments. They expect that “sex offenders” are too weak to fight.

    What could happen instead of that is that every time there is an article that accepts comments, about 100,000 people comment about abolishing the immoral, un-American Registries. That actually could happen.

    • Kevin

      There’s a very simple answer to your question. Most comment sections of articles (like this HuffPost article) require require a Facebook account to comment. Since Facebook does not allow registered citizens to have accounts, most of us cannot comment on those articles.

      • Clark

        Its true Kevin…its damn true….that racebook..I mean disgrace book…discriminates and won’t allow free speech to let the world know what really goes on issues and matters……………freedom of speech ..?….Not at disgrace book.

      • anonymouse

        Facebook is the devil, the devil I say, but for those who have an account, or who have access to an account, or who just want to read along – the good State Representative has a lively discussion going on on his FB page.

        A politician arguing AGAINST the registry and FOR sanity and reason. I had to step outside to see if hell had, indeed, frozen over.

        • Will Allen

          Thanks for the link to his Facebook page. EVERYONE should comment there.

      • Will Allen

        The very fact that Facebook thinks it is appropriate to restrict certain people from it is the best reason of all to always have a Facebook account. So, get a Facebook account and comment on all news articles. I have had my account for years. I will always have a Facebook account.

        All Registered people should do anything and everything that is legal that they perceive the terrorists who support the Sex Offender Registries (SORs) would supposedly like for them not to do. ESPECIALLY, ESPECIALLY if it is a normal activity done by normal people. Do not allow the terrorists to control your life. I am around random children ALL the time simply because it is normal and because the SORs exist. I think people who are Registered have an obligation to be around random people, completely anonymously, all the time. It’s the right thing to do.

        • Timmr

          Good points. But don’t stop at the norm when what they are doing to us is way beyond abnormal. Stretch a little and breathe free air. That’s why I wish to be at the march in Carson. They expect us to hide in a box in some dank emotional sewer and be afraid to complain and –it’s working. Shame is a powerful depressant. Although everyone needs a private place to retreat to once in awhile, I’m a human, not a box troll (nor a sex offender) and I need free air and light and to move where I wish.

  12. FED UP

    Have any of you written Paul Heroux in regards to the punitive and unjust consequences of being on a registry that go far beyond the original sentencing and at least here in CA, is a lifelong sentence? We all need to collectively respond and attempt to educate these authors…. I have serious concerns, that out of all the “offenders” in CA, I only see a few of them involved with CA RSOL.

    • Will Allen

      That is a great idea and after you send the writing to Paul Heroux, also post it in the comments for the original article and here. The more people see it, the better.

      Everyone who is listed on a Registry should post a comment at the original article. It could be hundreds of thousands of comments and be overwhelming. Make people hear you.

      • Timmr

        I don’t see any comment section after the article. Maybe its not on the mobile version???

      • Timmr

        OK, Will, kind of hurried, but here is what I sent to Paul:
        “Great article. You have the courage to state the facts no one likes to hear.
        One criticism I have is why are only people who have been convicted of what is deemed sex crimes listed on a registry? 95% of the registered community never reoffends. You can’t say the same for other types of offenders.
        Also there are many collateral damages that stem from having a public registry, vigilantism is one and rarely a topic of discussion.
        Finally, I would like also be able to leave a comment on your article and join the discussion, but unfortunately Facebook categorically doesn’t allow convicted sex offenders on its site, no matter what their crime was and how long ago.
        Please see other comments and information at
        Thank you very much for your time.”

        • Will Allen

          Good points. Concise. What a politicians needs.

          Now, get a Facebook account and comment on the article. 🙂 🙂

  13. FED UP

    Will, I did exactly that on the article “‘It’s about the safety of kids'” and 2 others followed by writing the author and then posting their letter on the thread. I actually got a response from Meaggan, the author of the article. She was gracious and thanked me for the info. I wish more people who were “SO”s” new about this site and got involved. I will be writing my letter to Paul tonight hopefully.

  14. mike

    The information people falsely believe they have a right to all them to extrapolate just enough to make them more ignorant because they are also ignorant of the statistics and have boogeyman myths as what they associate with the generic name sex offender. “Ignorance is strength “and they believe our slavery=their freedom.

  15. Fed Up

    Moderator, I am having issues connecting to this site while on my wifi… ***we are not aware of any issues like you describe. Please use the form on the Contact Us page with a valid email address if you wish to discuss this further, instead of the comment section*** Moderator

  16. Fed Up

    Emailed to Paul Heroux

    Dear Paul

    While I applaud your efforts in educating the public with your article, I do feel that stating right off the bat, “But that doesn’t mean we should NOT have them (registries),” directly followed up by “the fact is, that registries don’t really do anything to improve public safety. They just make people feel safer and in control; unfortunately this is a false sense of security,” completely loses me as to your reasoning why we should keep registries? Just because it makes a few people feel better?? What about the civil rights of the people who are on these registries, citizens who have already or are currently paying the price for their mistake, the citizens who, regardless of what John Roberts or any other Judge says, are SUFFERING ongoing, PUNITIVE consequences of being publicly outed, sometimes for life. I am one of these people, and unfortunately I live in California where currently it is a lifetime PUNITIVE requirement.

    You are an educated, experienced person in this field so you know the consequences of mandatory registration already; imprisonment for failure to register on time, employment challenges, living accommodation challenges, harm to family members, wives and children, inability to date or carry on a normal social relationships for fear of being outed, facilitation of murder, assaults, threats, incitement of hate, property crimes, inability to travel freely within other states without having to register in each one, and much more. How could you possible be in favor for a public registry, especially for those who are considered low level offenders? How could you be in favor of a registry for a crime that has one of the lowest recidivism rates out of all crimes? And if we have a need for a sex offense registry, why do we not have a registry for murder, illegal weapons use, domestic abuse, DUI’s etc.?

    You stated your reasoning for keeping the registry is “because parents and the pubic want to know” and “since all criminal records are public information this information should not be suppressed.” This is completely absurd. If it is public information already, WHY do we need to have additional public shaming venues and as I previously stated, why are there not registries for other crimes?

    While I applaud you on educating your readers on the wide variety of offenders and offences, I personally, will NEVER consider myself a sex offender. While my offense was illegal (sex with a minor), it is not who I am, but merely a very serious mistake that I made while under duress. I plead guilty, completed the mandatory one year of classes, scored the lowest possible scores on both the Static 99, and treatment summary and currently am serving out my 5 years probation sentence.

    So you tell me, do I deserve to be labeled a predator? Do I deserve to be punished for life or even 10 years for having consensual sex with a minor? And yes, I know a minor cannot consent (even though they can be tried as an adult for murder). A perfect life of service and being a role model citizen (Ex Navy Diver, EMT, college graduate, Coast Guard certified Submersible Pilot, Fine Art Gallery owner, Real Estate agent and developer, small business owner and benefactor to schools and police forces) destroyed by a supposed non –punitive, possibly life long sentence. And how about all of the far less egregious convictions you mentioned, a large portion of which are offenders listed on Meagan’s Law Website. Do these parties deserve to labeled predators just to make a few fearful people “feel” more comfortable.

    It’s time to use common sense, reduce the registry to only the most extreme crimes, and channel the saved funding into ADULT and MINOR education on sex offenses. Almost every day here in LA there is news of a teacher or a coach (male and female) having underage sex with a student. Are all of these people predators or is this a systemic ongoing cultural issue in today’s society, brought on by the hyper-sexualization of our underage population, many of whom act, think and look far beyond their years. I have never once seen a public broadcast addressing this issue, much less addressing the consequences of these issues. Thank you for your time and keep up the good work!


    Fed up

  17. FED UP

    I Just received this reply from Paul Heroux, the author of this article, in regards to the letter “email” I sent him.
    “here is another article I just published”

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