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CA: California Is Right to Curb the Sex Offender Registry


Say what you want about Governor Jerry Brown, but never say he’s not brave. He just signed a law that could eventually purge 90 percent of the names off of California’s lifetime registry for sex offenders.

I expect that he, and the legislators who passed it, will be subjected to the withering outrage that accompanies any action or statement, however mild or correct, that seems “soft” on sex offenders. I once wrote a column suggesting that pedophiles who are attracted to children but do not act on their impulses need more support from society to help keep them on the straight and narrow. Of course I was roundly scorned as being, at best, a woolly-headed liberal with a permanently broken moral compass, and at worst, probably a pedophile myself.

This is how we have ended up with the absurdities of the sex offender registries. In which teenaged boys who slept with their underage girlfriends can be required to spend years of their life (perhaps all the years of their life), fending off revolted stares from neighbors who think they’re child molesters. In which men have to sleep under bridges because there is no abode in the county that is far enough from a child for them to legally take residence. In which work, marriage, travel or even a roof over your head become near-impossible dreams for anyone ever convicted of any sexual offense — and you may even be liable for these penalties if you are accused of exploiting … yourself.

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  1. David

    Good article. But even better are the comments that follow the article, suggesting that people are beginning to think more seriously about Registries and are not automatically jumping into the typical pitchfork & torch hysteria.

  2. AJ

    Excellent op-ed, from a widely read, conservative-leaning source. I especially liked her black-and-white statement, almost a throwing down of a gauntlet, saying, “America, wake up!” I’m also smiled that it’s a female posting the op-ed, thus defusing any of the bias that automatically pops up when a male writes–’cause don’t you know, he would just be defending his own.
    America needs to rethink its sex offender registries, and whether they’re really the best way to protect children from abuse. And our knee-jerk reaction to being “soft on child abusers” makes doing so extremely difficult.
    As good old Bob Dylan said, “For the loser now will be later to win, for the times they are a-changin’.” (Actually a couple verses of this song ring quite true. The winds are definitely blowing in our favor, more and more every day. Op-ed after op-ed is helping us more than can be measured. What first is seen as a loony editorial starts to become seen as the truth (that it is) repeated often enough.

  3. ConfusedAndTired

    The first paragraph is interesting,

    “…could eventually purge 90 percent of the names off of California’s lifetime registry…”

    We can only hope.

  4. Bill

    California was the first state to begin the sex offender registry in 1947, and the irony is it had nothing to do with protecting children.

  5. Nicholas Maietta

    …. except that.. i see now outrage anywhere. Not one peep from the general public about how they are against this. 5-10-15-20 years ago.. the slightest hint that anyone would come off the registry would have sent people into high orbit. The tide has changed. The Pendulum is definitely now finally moving the other direction.

    • Relief

      @Nicholas Maietta: Excellent point. People may be finally realizing the “One Size Fits All” approach to the life time registry is broken. SFGate said 80% could come off and yet no mass hysteria and panic…

      Further, if there’s not public pressure on Legislators from this Tier bill, the better the chance to have CP shifted down into Tier 1 in 2019/20.

      Janice and ACSOL can use this fact when lobbying in 2019.

    • AJ

      @Nicolas Maietta:
      I second Relief and say good point. The lack of hysteria is a very good sign–and perhaps will (for lack of a better word) embolden legislators to deal with it a bit more rationally…or at least maybe they’ll cease being so rabid to make things worse. I’m thinking (read: hoping) perhaps the “terror groups” the FBI has discovered ( will become the new bogeyman, letting us fade from the legislative limelight. Or perhaps the opioid epidemic will be it.

    • Tim Moore

      You made a good observation. I’ve noticed lately that only a few registry fundamentalists still call for an unbridled registry. For most people I think it doesn’t even come on their radar. The ever expanding registry is becoming a fridge crusade, discredited by thinking people, and that is encouraging.

  6. Jack

    Having non contact child pornography possession offenses listed as tier 3 is not curbing the registry. If anything under this bill they’ve expanded it.

    • bill

      your correct. A first offender who has a cp conviction and is on the registry for life when a murderer could be living next door and we would never know. my god what is the world coming to.

  7. mike r

    where the h…do that get that 90% of people will come off it? I would like to see them….

  8. steve


    With this tiered bill, do you think its possible to slip in an amendment making it illegal for third party sites to reproduce it. What is really the point of getting people off if homefacts and others are still putting it out there. That would be somewhat helpful to people stuck in the tier 3 category. Or how about just lobbying for it next legislative session. These sites are way more damaging than the ML website.

    • RFS

      Steve, Thank you for bringing this up! This has been a major concern of mine for years. These sites come up on random google searches of just a persons name.

  9. David Kennerly, the Very Model of "Containment"

    We’re up against a serious 1st Amendment issue there. This is public information (the problem, really) and I can see no way that information appearing on the state’s registry cannot be copied, put into a database and republished onto a webpage controlled by a private company. Their only vulnerability would be to publishing erroneous information that would constitute libel in which case it would be up to the individual (not the government) to take them to court. If we were to be individually pulled off of the Megan’s Law site for whatever miraculous reason and the private company did not update their own website, then possibly that would be actionable although even that might be difficult. If they charge to take someone off then that is extortion but I’m guessing that, because those practices are being challenged in court that that will become less common.

    • AJ

      @David Kennerly:
      We’re up against a serious 1st Amendment issue there. This is public information (the problem, really) and I can see no way that information appearing on the state’s registry cannot be copied, put into a database and republished onto a webpage controlled by a private company.
      See my recent post regarding the DoJ withholding booking photos from the Detroit Free Press: From this case, it would seem all it would take is a State to craft its own FOIA, with wording similar to what’s in the Federal one, and declare the release of the photos a violation of one’s privacy interest. I’m thinking it could be even easier, such as if a State redefined the photos as non-public, restricted, or whatever wording is preferred. It may behoove us all to look at the FOIA/Sunshine Law/Open Data Practices Law in our States of conviction to see if there’s a privacy interest that could be raised. (I already checked my convicting State: they are specifically declared public data. 🙁 )

      I’m stunned such an exception exists, but the 6th (self-reversing after 20 yrs), 10th, 11th, USSG (self-reversing when the Administration changed), and SCOTUS by denial of cert all seem to have no problem with it.

    • Tim Moore

      What we we ought to be pushing for is repeal of the ban registrants have in viewing their own public information and others. We are unwilling authors of the information on that list, coerced from us under penalty of prison, we should br able to view it. It is like a slave being forced to produce but not to share in the proceeds of one’s labor. The ban discourages us from freely and peaceably assembling to petition our government. That may be the ban’s underlying purpose, they having realized by providing all this information it becomes a ready made organizational tool that could be used to unsure our fight for lost rights and for physical protection is made through effective organization. Most of us are not part of any criminal organization. That is not what our crimes were about. We want to organize as citizens within the Constitution for reintegration. That reasoning is bunk that we will use it for criminal purposes. If we could self organize our numbers, we could effectively take on the extortion sites if not the registry itself. The State hates to share power, but our 1st amendment requires a voice for everyone.

      • David Kennerly, the Very Model of "Containment"

        The best thing for us would be a high-visibility confrontation on the matter. If someone were to openly, publicly visit the web page that they are legally prevented from visiting, and insist that the law be enforced, that would be dynamite press for us.

        • RFS

          Does anyone know the reasoning for this? We can view the information on third party sites like and

  10. CA

    For whatever the reason, i stand corrected, the governor did sign the bill! Surprise surprise

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