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Today’s scarlet letter — the sex offender registry — is risky justice for youth (Commentary)

It was heartbreaking to read recently about Naperville 16-year-old Corey Walgren, who committed suicide following being threatened with sex offender registration for allegedly audiotaping a consensual sexual encounter with a classmate. For those of us who regularly work with youth on the sex offender registry, it also highlighted a truth that we know too well: Placement on the registry is a modern scarlet letter that can lead our young clients to want to take their own lives. Full Commentary


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  1. New Person

    From the article:

    Meanwhile, the damage done by placing kids on the registry is all too real. Once labeled a “registered sex offender,” it becomes harder for young people to find and keep gainful employment, to continue their education, even to find a place to live. Add to this the psychological burden of shame, isolation and stigma, and it becomes too much for some youth to bear.

    Yes, it’s a travesty about being a registered sex offender. It’s a tragedy what happened the 16 year old. But the quote above isn’t just trait for the youth, it’s a trait for all who are registered.

  2. mike

    Ya just like if your actions causes someone’s death you are held accountable so why isn’t the officer and the other person are not brought up on involuntary man slaughter because there actions are a direct reason why this young man is dead, if it were someone else they would be in prison, so why do they get an get out of jail free card?

    • James

      I am a little unhappy with all this concern over Juveniles/Minors and the registry….people are having “oh me, oh my,” attacks of conscience over the destructive influence of being labeled for life a Sex Offender…

      Don’t our lives matter too and as much? Are not the malign effects of the Registry not felt and suffered by us also?

      Not to be selfish, but I say punish everyone, kids included, until this silly but terrorizing reign of registering human beings like cattle is entirely discredited and abandoned!


      • AJ

        +1, and then some! I, too, think the only way out of the whole registry mania (not just SO ones, either) will be to make them incredibly onerous to as many people as possible. That it means minors may get wrapped up in it is sad, but is not our doing. That shame belongs to the legislators, Walshes, Klasses, etc. Eventually someone these people actually care about in their own lives will get caught up, then–and ONLY then–will they see how wrong it all is.


  3. Eric Knight

    Note that there was no threat of jail or incarceration. Just sex offender registration, which publicly also necessitates the existence of societal shame that drove him to his death. Punitive? Is the bear blue? Does the sky sleep in the woods? Well, the registry makes just as much sense, doesn’t it?

    • New Person

      Thanks for pointing that out, Eric!

      It’s truly scary that registration is more detrimental that jail. I mean, isn’t that the the California judge said when he gave a light sentence to a college kid, stating that he will have to register for a lifetime is more damaging.

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