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Don’t Just Get Kids Off the Sex Offender Registry. Abolish It (Opinion)

Recently the New Yorker published a major article about juvenile “sex offenders.” The story, by staff writer Sarah Stillman, is far ranging, moving and important. Stillman writes about many young people who were caught doing anything from playing doctor to sexually coercing another person (usually another child). Convicted for sex crimes, some of these youth are incarcerated and subject to lifelong sex offender registration—a kind of social death sentence. Full Opinion Piece

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I am in complete agreement with this piece. It is lengthy but well worth the time to read. I have long been concerned that the movement to keep youthful offenders off the registry would leave older registrants earmarked as unable to be rehabilitated and used as the “cash cows” for the legal/prison industrial complex. The authors caution against “incrementalizing” and losing sight of the need to totally abolish the registry.

my fears exactly Margaret

When I was forced to give in to this thing 15 years, I made a deal and plead no contest to not punish and destroy my family and I thought at the time myself included. At that time, before internet registries AWA and now IML, I just thought all I had to do was play the waiting game–sooner or later they’re going to grow enough people on this sex-offender thing, which by my research was being deemed the white-man’s crime, and when enough accountants, engineers, judges, and lawyers start getting caught up in this then we’d see the ship begin to take on water. whats more, I always knew they’d grow this beyond their budgetary desires and that once the budget to manage these programs began to show up on the radar we’d start to see backing off, as in some cases I believe we are–one only needs to look as far as the SOMB recommendations–there is a general sense one gets that they dont want to manage the big numbers any longer–let’s whittle down the list to the highest risk, etc. That is why I would advocate for a LEGITIMATE risk based analysis because I know there are real sex offenders out there that would do bad things over-and-over. but while arguing for that then who do we leave behind as you state..I’m like MLK I do not buy into “Incrementalism” but the system is already considered relevant, and that is why people can game the system and pass something like IML all the while the gang in congress were giving a nod for them to do so. fifteen years ago I counted on this thing growing big. And I do not want to start peeling off groups that leave a smaller, powerless, less sympathetic group behind! not that I’d wish this on my worst enemy (hehe oh yes I would), but I do not want to see the child offenders, the urinators, or what ever’s to leave our domain. Our numbers have grown large enough where I believe we have power at the ballot!

I think it is safe to say everyone who is a registrant feels alienated to some degree. If you are made to feel left out of this cause, that alienation will grow and create resistance or at least apathy towards the group, thereby weakening the collective potential of the movement.

great article , I wish more people could understand this , or even try to understand

This is a well written, well reasoned article, however, I am concerned that its recommendations, if followed, will cause a schism in the RSO movement. If that should occur, this movement will be divided and conquered. I believe that we can support those advocating on behalf of youth while advocating for adults at the same time. This is not a zero sum game. That is, a “win” by those advocating for “youths” does not reduce the effectiveness of those advocating for “adults”. We can achieve both through incremental change, which can be made permanent, as compared to revolutionary change, which is often later eroded.

Incrementalism or revolution, both meaningless words when it feels like the ship is sinking and only some are manning the buckets or jumping ship to swim to other countries in increasingly shark infested waters. Hope they make it and come back with help. All the while that ocean of laws looms closer and closer.

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