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Sex-offender registry adds costs without protecting public (Opinion)

Last month, a new chapter was written in one of America’s oldest real-life murder mysteries. The body of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was finally found, 27 years after his abduction. Jacob’s gun-point abduction shocked the nation and spawned a network of state sex-offender registries, South Carolina’s among them. But extensive research since then has raised serious questions about the effectiveness of such measures. Full Opinion Piece

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  1. G4Change

    “…the sad irony is that if all of today’s laws had been in existence in 1989, they would have done nothing whatsoever to protect Jacob Wetterling. Jacob’s killer had no previous sex crime convictions. He did not choose a victim from his neighborhood; Jacob was kidnapped some 30 miles from the perpetrator’s home.”

    MY. GOD. FINALLY!!!! Someone stepped up and said it! FINALLY!!!! Just another law named after a victim that would have done nothing to protect said victim had it been in effect prior to the crime that triggered the creation of the law. Total crock of crud!!!

    • rick

      I appreciate your views related to the costs and ineffectiveness of registries. But the fact is, imprisonment, parole, probation, and certainly not a registry provides any safety whatsoever. If a person is going to commit any kind of crime, nothing is gonna prevent it short of death.

      If I were you I would be more concerned with the media that is teaching kids how to hate, disenfranchise, and discriminate against people. And the politicians who will take away anyone’s rights any time they feel pressured. A crime is the same as taking away someone’s rights to life, liberty, and property. But in the case of registries, you take away their rights based upon crimes that haven’t been committed, and may never be committed. This means you are committing crimes upon persons without legal justification of any kind.

      If lying and perjury are crimes under oath, then every official in this country can be predicted to commit future crimes, and they do this routinely. But they get immunity from prosecution, how predictable is this prediction? Look the bottom line is this, a typical conviction web site post identifies the following information for example, john doe, age, photo, type of offense, number of offenses, etc, and anyone can access this information by entering their name into any internet device. If an adult human being is unable to determine whether they want to associate with that person and determine whether or not they pose a danger of some kind to them, then the information on a registry certainly will not help either.

      Yes, its true some people will commit crimes again and again no matter what forms of supervision are imposed, a sad reality, but you don’t punish everyone because of this. Because if you do, then you are no better than them, another sad reality.

    • LM

      YES. That was a massive truth bomb dropped that sums up the abject failure and unmitigated disaster of community notification in all iterations.

      Child safety in America has become the new religious dogma.

      The registry does not protect the “family unit,” it only gives the illusion of safety and normalcy while offering fleeting psychological comfort knowing where one of those red dots are.

      the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation revealed that after former offenders remain offense-free for 15 years, the statistical probability of them committing a new sex crime was indistinguishable from the general population.

      The registry is retaliatory vengeance, reckless endangerment and a silent genocide. It’s not justice for Adam, Megan, Jessica and Jacob. The sad reality and hard truth is that these laws do NOT keep them from dying in vain. It actually does their memory a disservice by undermining everything America was built upon.

      • rick

        By the way has anyone noticed how our media and lawmakers have been ignoring the public murder of alleged drug dealers and users in the Philippines. Not even so much as a mention of these government authorized killings and civil rights abusers. Over 37 murders a day by vigilantes and cops for the past 100 days. Their dictator has declared he is cutting ties with the u.s., but shouldn’t we already have done this. I guess we only care about teenagers touching each other here, not murder and dictators.

        • Timmr

          It’s the bases there, the US is willing to put up with Dutarte’s violence, same in Qatar, putting up with their squashing of dissent to keep our fifth fleet in the Gulf. The US may also need the Phillipine cooperation in its Angle Watch campaign to look like protectors of the world’s children.

        • Timmr

          I apologize for the misspell, it is Duterte. Oh but now he is banning smoking in the country. Should we be afraid of entering Iran? Or the Phillipines? This guy seems to be the cleanser in chief. How long before those suspected to be in the sex trades become targets, like the suspected drug users?

  2. anonymously

    Truth is we have limited moral authority to tell Duterte of the Philippines a damn thing as the Philippines does not cruelly and unusually punish their sex deviants by making them register as the Nazi’s did and then applying Nazi laws out of nowhere, rubberstamped by Clinton appointed Judge’s after being signed by a Democrat who started off IML, although Judge Hamilton claims the limited version that only came out of LAX was technically started under Bush in 2007. Duterte of the Philippines does not register his sex offense convicts whereby Obama is currently putting forward a program where US citizen registrants will have a terrible stigmatizing mark on their passprts whereby countries like Iran kill sex offenders and in the IML lawsuit, plaintiff 7 will have to go to Iran when his fathers imminent death will occur in order to get his inheritance his father willed to him. Right there, the US is doing to US citizens just what Duterte is supposedly doing to his own citizens. The US has no moral authority to tell Duterte anything about crime and punishment. I also wonder if the only rason the US has picked up on Dutertes supposed killing of drug cartel dealers is that powerful operatives in the US media industry are mad at Duterte for not starting a sex registry and are unduly highlighting Dutertes backlash against the drug scourge in his country. Each leader can point to the other’s lack of moral authority in unfair punishment but a key differernce also is that Duterte is persecuting and killing current cartel people and current drug dealers/users currently dealing with cartels. The US is persecuting long ago so-called sex offenders who may have not even offended in over 30+ years, whereas Duterte is persecuting those currently involved with the drug cartels. Duterte is more in tune with the US constitution’s ex post facto clause than Obama. Shame, shame on Obama’s handlers for having him do this. It’s my guess Obama made some funding threat to Duterte to start a sex registry or else. Duterte told Obama to shove it. Obama got his operatives in the US media to spotlight on Dutertes treatment of drug cartel people in the Philippines.

  3. Michael

    Even Patty Wetterling has come out against the SOR laws that have been passed since the Jacob Wetterling Act. In a 2007 op/ed piece for the Sacramento Bee, she said:

    “I’m worried that we’re focusing so much energy on naming and shaming convicted sex offenders that we’re not doing as much as we should to protect our children from other real threats.

    Many states make former offenders register for life, restrict where they can live, and make their details known to the public. And yet the evidence suggests these laws may do more harm than good.”

    “The assumption that sex offenders are at high risk of recidivism has always been false and continues to be false. It’s a myth.” Melissa Hamilton, an expert at the University of Houston Law Center

  4. Bailey

    Not only is this a waste of money; hobbling former sex offenders from getting work or a place to live is contrary to rehabilitation and preventing recidivism. It is diluted with people that had misdemeanors decades old now. It was never designed to stop crime anyway, it was a surefire way to justify hiring millions of law enforcement cementing their job security. People are naive. Imagine if everybody who had sex before the age of 18 (the majority) were on the registry, it would show millions registered, instead of almost 800,000 now.

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