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Sex-offender registries: How the Wetterling abduction changed the country

After Jacob Wetterling was abducted in 1989, a pastor named Thomas Gillespie of the St. Joseph Parish offered support and comfort to the Wetterling family. He invited them to dinner, opened the church for a community prayer service and presented them with hot cross buns at Easter. What the Wetterlings did not know at the time was that Gillespie was a sex offender who admitted molesting a boy in the 1970s and was finally removed from the ministry in 1996. Full Article

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  1. Phasma2128

    I continue reading stories, studies and statistics like this one. I only wish these kinds of stories and statistics would result in change. I really want my life back

  2. LM

    The argument needs to be made that people whom are FORCED to register are not a confirmed or verified safety threat or a legitimate public safety concern. It’s too speculative, anticipatory and preemptive to suggest that being placed on the registry can be a deterrent for future criminal activity.

    Can’t we all agree that there’s no such thing as a “safe neighborhood?”

    The argument also needs to be made where the community notification simply does not minimize risk in any capacity.

    The “I want to know” false entitlement argument from the registry proponents also needs to be attacked and dealt with.

    Also, non-violent, non-contact offenses should not be required to register.

    (No, I’m not new here).

    • wonderin

      Some good points [LM]and along those same lines:
      The mental health community needs to be accountable for their statements and actions which have emblazoned registrants as serial offenders which can only be controlled by either incarceration or extensive therapy sessions.
      And yet the extensive and expensive therapies fails to yield any noticeable validations of effective results relieving patients of their original diagnosis and the need to be monitored.
      It’s no wonder that the general public retains their conclusion that registrants can’t control their fiendish desires.
      Certainly, we can all understand some offenders who can’t or won’t respond to effective treatment but unfortunately the bulk of offenders still remain on the registry with little or no means to prove their rehabilitation.
      And why should it even be up to the patient to prove their improvement? Isn’t that the duty of the professional treating them? Until the therapeutic community can begin demonstrating their skills as relevant, they should be ordered to cease and desist any treatment of anyone diagnosed as having a sexual malady unless it is offered voluntarily with no cost .
      Furthermore, no court should impose psychological treatment of an offender until it has been proven to actually be of a benefit to the person being sentenced and the community.

    • Timmr

      I realize a conviction is public domain, what bothers me is when your present location becomes public domain. The registry is opening the original record to modification and mistakes, and your present location and present identifiers are adding to your public record, modifying that record with no new conviction to justify the modification. It’s screwed up. How can one trust any public record, that’s pulled up every year and edited?

  3. Timmr

    I was thinking about the Lindberg baby kidnapping way back in the last century. No I was not there, but I remember seeing a documentary about Lindberg. That was a big media event of the time and a tragic event for the parents and the nation, but I can’t think of any big new laws that came out of that or a decades long histeria following it. What has become of us since then, that any shocking event is met with extreme reworking of our laws?

    • David Kennerly

      Oh, but there was: the Lindbergh Law. It federalized the crime of crossing state lines so that the Feds could step in to investigate kidnappings more easily than (they claimed) could local jurisdictions.

      • Timmr

        That doesn’t seem very extreme, but I haven’t heard of that or its pros and cons. Is there a book that traces the history of sx offender laws back before Wetterling?

        • David Kennerly

          No, it doesn’t seem so extreme but, you gotta start somewhere.

          On the other hand, asserting federal jurisdiction IS a big deal in the history of sex crime prosecution. It’s had a huge impact on criminal jurisprudence. Just look at AWA to see the logical progression.

          The only book which comes immediately to mind about the history of sex crime law is Jesse Bering’s “Perv”, although I haven’t read it.

          I suspect that I would find it typically solicitous to vanilla gays (and fetishists) and less critical of policies towards more unpopular populations. Still, he is certainly a (comparatively) very moderate voice in the greater maelstrom of hysteria.

          There is a very great book by James Kincaid, “Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting.”

          The title is a bit off-putting but his analysis is very good.

        • Timmr

          Thank you for the reads. I think though, in the long run,the federal government will have to be the one to reign in the extreme laws passed in states and localities. That is what has happened in the civil rights theatre in the past.

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