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The sex offender registry should assess risk, otherwise it is purely punishment

A not-so-uncommon story: The sexual assault victim — a girl of 16. She’s now 37 years old, happily married to the love of her life, and the mother of three children.

That’s right — the victim and her attacker got married soon after the girl’s mother, learning of the couple’s romance, reported the “assault” to prosecutors.

Although he has a master’s degree, the attacker couldn’t find a teaching job because he was listed in the sex offender registry for life. His wife had to work multiple jobs to help support the family. Full Opinion Piece

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The attacker — a man who was unaware his victim was just shy of the age of consent and had consensual sex with her. As a result, he had to register with the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry. He’s now married to his teenage sweetheart and is the father of the victim’s children.

Join the discussion

  1. BA

    This is such a perfect example how registries are all punishment and nothing more……..but since were all in this together so we must fight back. The conference should be a great kickoff…….we are not silent.

    • Gralphr

      Yes, and we must do away with registry tier divisions on the website. There’s way too many people playing the prison game (my crime isnt as bad as yours) which does nothing to help do something about the registry as a whole. People cant have the mindset, as long as I benefit, screw everyone else!

      • Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

        Part of my problem with this “tiered registry” is that it will give the public the impression that the registry has been reformed and is more humane. It will give them the, in my opinion, mistaken impression that the system is working to make things more just. That is barely true, if at all. That comforting sense of a functioning justice is an undeserved comfort.

        • Gralphr

          You’re right. Not only that, but ALL TIERS should have some way of getting relieved from it, and not some Byzantine type regulations, that pretty much says 99.9% of the people will be denied. If someone is crime free for “X” amount of years, one should automatically drop off, and I don’t mean 30 years later. Granted, I’m looking from the view, they will will also have some type of registry, so I tend to look at whys it can be fairly crafted to allow people off if their behavior is good. Indiana allows all tiers to petition to get off (Even tier 3), however it’s very expensive to even try to get off. $5k for a lawyer to submit information, and he wants you to see a psychologist which is yet another $5K. In no way should it cost someone $10k just to request to get off the registry. Thats $10k with the possibility of someone telling you no, try again next year. It didn’t cost money to be put on it, so it shouldn’t cost money to get off.

        • Will Allen

          Gralphr:

          All correct. I think they want people to petition because it helps give an impression that there is something sensible about it and that it might actually have something to do with public safety. All false, of course.

          If everyone petitions without using an attorney, therapist, etc., then that will become the norm and people will come to see it for the nothing that it is. The petitions should simply state how many years a person has been listed. Judges might appreciate not having to read a bunch of nonsense for a change.

          If they had any sense, they would have already taken me off. But they don’t.

  2. mike r

    Yep they are attempting to fall in step with other states as well in that they can claim they are a risked based system like they are already doing when the tiers have nothing to do with risk. This is going to make it harder to defeat or change the laws. I think this is nothing but a money pit for attorneys that will be filing these petitions and for the courts who will be charging court fees. This will also be a money grab by so called therapist and other personal that will be hired or appointed to either represent the petitioners or the courts or state. It is a useless bill as it makes possible a maybe 5% group able to petition off in after ten years and the 40,000 that is proclaimed, do not know how accurate that is, that can petition after 20 years. It is absurd, I bet if you have a parking ticket or have not done therapy, or have not done any number of things the DA and judges are going to deny anyways. Then we are hearing 30 years for all level III. 30 years for a single non-contact, non-violent offense right along with habitual rapist. That is a insane proposition or stand to make. Not to mention that the cops are going to be focused more on the level IIIs which includes first time non-contact, non-violent offenses when I know for a fact that if these people are like me they have zero chance of re-offending. I am already registering 4 times a year going to college so what am I going to have to start registering frigging every quarter now so 8 times a year or more? I am sure they are going to bump up the registration requirements just as every other state has. Bout ready to go postal I can tell you that. Just as Will Allen stated they better hope I do not get a incurable disease or god forbid something happens to my son or grandchildren that makes me snap. Be a lot of people not liking the outcome from this…

  3. Facts should matter

    Like I’ve said countless times, the registry is not a “public safety” tool, it’s a re-electiion campaign tool geared towards the female-voter demographic. It gives parents to illusion of control over their children’s safety; the LEOs and lawmakers reap the rewards by pandering fear and distorting facts while we’re maligned, bad-mouthed and vilified online.

    • norman

      @Facts should matter,

      man did u hit the nail right on the head..I wonder if others on this forum see it the same way?

  4. Define "Risk"

    Please define “risk.”

    If one is to use pseudo science like the Static-99R Scam, how is that any better?

  5. someone who cares

    In my opinion, there is no way to assess risk for anyone. Nobody will ever be able to predict if someone who has committed a crime in the past will do so again, and nobody will be able to predict if a person who has never committed a crime will commit a crime in the future. If we can predict these things, we would be very futuristic mind readers.

  6. Dustin

    A well written and well intended article, but still flawed.

    First, the risk assessments the article calls for are certain to be based primarily (if not entirely) on the violated statute (versus individual circumstances) due to the number of cases that would be assigned to whatever state office tasked with them, as shown in the states that already have some form of risk assessment for its tiering system. Such assessments are not “individual” and defeat the entire purpose of conducting them.

    Second, there’s still no reason that even accurate assessments need to be made public via the registry. As Gerald pointed out, actual risk of nearly all registrants is already nearly zero (based on actual vs. perceived recidivism analysis). It’s pretty oxymoronic to provide public “warning” of individuals who in all likelihood pose no threat, regardless of previous offenses.

    Third, even LE doesn’t require a separate registry of those who have convicted of sex offenses. There’s nothing on the registry not already available in NCIC and state counterparts or a suspect’s own criminal record, both already immediately available to them. It has never provided a lead into the investigation of new sex crime. Even in (the very, very few) cases where the accused in the new crime were a registrant, he is either identified at the time or through DNA, and his status as a registrant is never known until after identification or arrest.

    LE claims that the registry is a “good tool” do so for one reason – money. Federal and state grants to maintain it are based on the number of registrants. That’s why registrants who have died, left the area, or are presently incarcerated remain on it, despite posing no threat to any community. Personally, I’m willing to bet that a significant part of such grants are spent elsewhere in any given agency.

    In my service days, risk assessments were used to determine whether or not certain actions or operations should take place. For example, if a mission called for an airborne insertion during bad weather, the commander would have to determine if the presumed success of the mission was more important or hindered by the decreased safety to his soldiers. But over the years, they have morphed into a presumed ability to foresee the future. The results of current risk assessments are by design fraught with a lot of “maybe”s, “possibly”s, “potentially”s, and “could”s for the sole purpose of allowing the assessor to be correct regardless of what actually happens afterward. The effect is quite similar to carnival fortune tellers or horoscope readings, and ultimately serves no purpose.

  7. mike r

    They are claiming an 82% accuracy rate. We know how they skew all these studies, but I have to go with it since I am using Hanson and CASOMB as reliable recidivism sources. They appear to have used scientific data from CDCR, and if they did then it is empirically sound. Of course it appears that this was just one year 2014 that they studied so far. And they are also pushing for more funding of course so that is suspect. I find it interesting that they are claiming probationers and transients have higher rates than parolees. The transient is really interesting since they are attempting, or are inadvertently causing, to make everyone transient with their laws.
    http://www.saratso.org/index.cfm?pid=1360

    • Dustin

      There’s nothing “empirically sound” about what is ultimately a guess, whoever making the guess and their supposed expertise notwithstanding. And in this case, the guess is not based on the individual himself, but on an overall group of similarly afflicted individuals, the similarities often stretched or redefined to fit the result. Same with polygraphs. No matter how “scientific” the procedures and theories sound, in the end it’s nothing more than the subjective (often arbitrary) guess of the test administrator.

      There’s no science involved in risk assessments, tiering, or polygraphs, no matter how they’re explained or justified. Explanations attempting (and usually failing) to show how sound they are are strictly cosmetic and have no overall effect other than their continued use, like claiming a car gets better gas mileage if you paint it a different color.

      • norman

        no…but there is logic..I had to register in a town that required an interview with a detective..said detective made a remark stating “if it hadn’t been for the internet you probably would have done the deed”..my answer back to him “I was 40 when the internet started to happen, what about before then? you have my dna and I am sure it was run against unsolved cases not only in CA but across the country as well” his logic was I was born this way, my logic was I got carried away on the internet..let them prove otherwise..

        • Will Allen

          “required an interview with a detective”? Yeah, don’t allow that. I seriously doubt any state has such a law. They might try an interview in order to get the information that the criminal regime is forcing you to give them and if they do that, they give that information as/when requested but certainly don’t discuss anything or elaborate in any way.

          For example, the “detective” might ask for your address. Tell him or her. If he/she/it asks how long you have lived there you might say, “I’m sorry, that information is not required by law.” And repeat that as often as necessary.

          I certainly would NEVER get into any discussion with any law enforcement criminal about anything that I ever did or the motivations, etc. Never.

          The criminal regime where I live has tried all kinds of nonsense. They typically try for a few months and then come to realize, yet again, that it is all futile. F*ck them to hell and back. They’ve tried forever to force me to “verify” my employment. I’ve told them about 50 times that I don’t have to and that they should go f*ck themselves. Let them do some “police work” and actually investigate something, LOL.

        • UnitedStatesofOppression

          The sex offender registry is purely punishment. There I fixed that headline for you.

  8. ab

    Any method sought for assessing risk will not be effective after the fact. The only risk assessment worth developing is prior to anyone becoming a perpetrator or victim. If societies seriously wish for a significant reduction in non desirable conduct the most efficient prevention methods are identifying the paths lead to those acts and diverting people away from disaster as early as possible. Rather than view individuals as victims or perpetrators step in way before anyone risks becoming either to set them down different and far less dangerous paths. Granted successfully doing this at the scale necessary will require far more resources than are currently devoted to most other endeavors in the world combined.

    • Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

      “Granted successfully doing this at the scale necessary will require far more resources than are currently devoted to most other endeavors in the world combined.” Yeah, well there’s the whole issue of becoming a pretextual police state, too. I’d like to push back on this idea that human sexuality is so out of control that we need to reorder society along those lines. We could do with a whole lot less hysteria and paranoia and a lot more general tolerance.

  9. Don’t tread on me

    With all of the legislation and new rules for all crimes, it is only a matter of time before they legislate themselves into a corner. Some feel good new law to protect everyone’s rights and not intended to be extended to SOs will open up an avenue. The nice part is they are only 1 mistake away in an unbelievably complex system of laws from screwing themselves. It’s a statistical fact

  10. Chris tucker

    Anyone have news the Texas SC decision on Texas not honoring plea deals?

    • Steveo

      Chris,

      I am wanting to hear something too Chris. I think that I read that the Texas Supreme court recesses at the end of June or something like that, which I think the US Supreme court does also, and I think that I also read somewhere that unless its a really big case that will take them a long time, they normally come out with rulings prior to that recess. So…Perhaps in the next 2 to 2.5 months we’ll hear something from both that might either provide relief, or a path to relief. Obviously for us in Texas that made plea deals for 10 year probation and a deferred adjudication , and now have to register because they changed the deal on us ex post facto, the news could be really really good…. If you’re a praying man, please keep praying for that to happen! It would not only give a lot of people in Texas relief, it would also be one more nail in the coffin for these terrible registration laws.

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