“The tide is going to turn against sex offender registries when people realize they’re more likely to end up on the registry than to be molested by someone on it,” says Lenore Skenazy, author, columnist and activist for the elimination of sex offender registries.
She lists off the offenses that could put a person on a public list of social outcasts widely seen as pedophiles, predators and rapists:
You could be a sex offender if you go to a prostitute. You could be a sex offender if you urinate in public. You could be a sex offender if you go streaking. You could be a sex offender if you touch a stripper. You could be a sex offender if you dated a 15-year-old when you were 19-years-old.
What’s worse, “there are a lot of wrongful convictions in sex cases. A lot of wrongful accusations,” says William Dobbs, lawyer and civil libertarian based out of New York City.
Skenazy and Dobbs want sex offender registries eliminated in the United States. And they’re not alone. Although the vast majority of the American public supports the idea of using registries to keep a close eye on sex offenders, there are voices rising in opposition, saying that sex offender registries are ineffective and often horribly cruel.
The original goal of publishing a list of sex criminals was to protect communities. Parents who worried about the safety of their little ones could pull up a map of sex offenders in their area, and feel more secure knowing which neighbor was more likely to give their kid roofie-laced Halloween candy.
But the maps served the opposite purpose. Instead of feeling more secure, parents freaked out. They’d find that they’re surrounded by sexual deviants — that each dot on the map represents a sex offender, and their map is more speckled than a Jackson Pollock painting.