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National

UT: Lawmaker calls for study in taking some convicts off sex offender registry

It’s a sensitive issues at the Utah Capitol — maybe close to alcohol policy, marijuana and Medicaid expansion — who goes off Utah’s Sex Offender Registry.

Depending on the sex crime, convicts now can stay on for ten years, or for the rest of their lives.

“We tend to kind of group those sex offenders together in the same broad brush category,“ said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Davis County, who maintained Wednesday during a legislative committee hearing, the circumstances of the criminal acts are often very different. “Sometimes with these controversial issues, it takes the Legislature two or three years to come up with a consensus.“ Full Article

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  1. Dustin

    This is a waste – there are already tons of studies and data to answer Weiler’s questions.

    A better study to call for would be on absconders. How many absconders are among the near-million registrants and of those, how many have committed any other crime (less status offenses)? Betting that number is very low. But such a study will never occur, at least not sanctioned by any legislature (and if it were, it would be ignored as in Oregon), specifically because it will undoubtedly show the registry’s uselessness as a “public safety tool.”

    • AJ

      @Dustin:
      I respectfully disagree. I feel anytime legislators are discussing registry laws in this manner, it’s a benefit for us. That it was an issue last session and has returned gives me even higher hopes for those in UT. Will it succeed? Who knows. What I do know is just five years ago, no such discussion would have been considered. To me this is more evidence that the truth is starting to sink into the minds of people. It may not have reached the general public (they tend toward thick skulls and small brains, IMO), but it’s starting to bubble up in the Statehouses.

      As for the absconding studies, I don’t understand what that would do to improve anything for us regarding registries. I’d enjoy your explaining that further.

      • Dustin

        AJ:

        I envy your optimism. But it’s been my experience that the only purpose of registry “reforms” are to maintain the status quo in order to keep the SORNA dollars (based on the number of registrants) coming in. Come to think of it, someone ought to demand audits of such grants. I read some city (don’t recall which – Tulsa, maybe?) got a little over 1/2 a million in such grants but only have one full time and two part time officers dedicated to registry compliance. Pretty sure their salaries and equipment would add up to considerably less than was granted.

        Anyway, no “reform” I have ever seen has achieved anything regarding the stated purpose of the registry itself or the proposed “reform.” When I hear of a legislator talk about abolishing the registry, I’ll join your optimism. Until then, I remain skeptical.

        On my theory regarding studying absconders, Google “absconded sex offender arrested.” I have yet to find a story where an absconder was discovered or suspected of committing another crime, less failure to register/update or some other status offense, before or after the absconsion arrest. Even on the rare occasions when registrants do commit another crime of any kind, it appears (to me at least) that the other crime would have been committed whether the registrant was an absconder or not. Possibly there is an exception or two, but I have yet to find them.

        The overall point is to dispute public perception that they need to know who and where registrants are in order to be safe. We always say and it’s been frequently shown that registrants aren’t the ones committing new sex offenses. If we show that even the absconders (and I’m guessing most of them were simply rendered homeless by the myriad of housing and employment restrictions) aren’t committing crimes as (falsely) presumed, maybe it’ll be a little easier to convince the public to stop worrying so much about who’s currently on the registry and start worrying a little more about their neighbors, friends, pastors, and teachers, all of whom are far more likely to pose a threat to them than those currently registered. Once that gets in their heads, they should then see the registry for the absolutely useless waste of time, money, and effort that it really is and hopefully that any changes to it will only make it more so.

        • Will Allen

          I don’t follow these things closely at all but I do recall a Registrant who took off and murdered a 13 yo girl (Melinda Hinson). I haven’t looked into it enough to know if he was actually an “absconder” or not, because technically he was Registered in Georgia. So, perhaps he was Registered properly and just took off on a trip? I don’t know. I do know that he was charged with FTR as part of all this (perhaps just because of being in Florida). Anyway, I’d be very surprised if the Registries were not a huge contributor to this murder. I know they’ve been a direct cause in other murders.

          Here are a couple of interesting paragraphs from https://www.newsherald.com/news/20170518/update-court-rules-for-convicted-murderer-rapist:

          Officers reported Caylor was on felony probation from Georgia in July 2008 after he molested a 14-year-old, for which he claimed to be falsely accused.

          After he said he came to Panama City to relax, he told investigators Hinson came to his room to ask for a cigarette. Caylor said he felt he had “been through all this because of something I didn’t do,” and he decided to “make it worth it,” according to court transcripts.

          On a different topic, I have long thought that the key to getting rid of the Registries is “The overall point is to dispute public perception that they need to know who and where registrants are in order to be safe.”

          I think it is somewhat reasonable that a person WANTS to know. But, it is not helpful to know. Further, obviously no one has any right to know.

          I think it is easy to point out the stupidity of trying to keep Registered People (RPs) out of schools, for example. It doesn’t help. School personnel still have to monitor EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the school as if he/she is the “worst of the worst” person listed on the Registries. They just have to. That is literally the only way to keep anyone safe. Allowing RPs into schools does not change that need at all. Doesn’t change the risk in any significant way.

          Supporting Registries is very PC. I think the way to destroy the Registries is to make it not PC. People do not care nearly as much about “protecting children” as they do with how people perceive them or think they are “protecting children”. That is what is important to most people – what other people think of them. So it needs to be demonstrated that moral, smart, informed Americans do not support Registries. Losers do.

          This is already too long but I just wanted to share something that is relevant that I wrote for a few hundred people elsewhere. The rest of this post is that:

          I’ve shared a simple scenario here many times which easily demonstrates that Registries are not needed. It also demonstrates that Registries are not just worthless, but much worse, in that they certainly distract and divert from actually protecting people as should be done. But the scenario doesn’t even start to go into the real, grave, widespread harm that the Registries cause to all of America. That’s a whole other can of excrement.

          Anyway, I’ve shared the scenario, which asks some questions. No one has attempted to answer the questions because the answers prove that Registries are dumb. People just want to have their un-American jollies and never bother to have to have a war. So I’ll give the scenario here again. Then I will answer the questions. I invite any big government lovers to do the same. This is the scenario:

          Say you have two neighbors – one is Registered and one is not. Which has committed more $EX crimes? Which has committed more non-$EX crimes? Do you care? Which is more dangerous? Can you treat the two neighbors any differently? For your safety, should you? Can you explain why you “need” Registries?

          Which has committed more $EX crimes?

          ANSWER: You have no idea.

          Which has committed more non-$EX crimes?

          ANSWER: You have no idea.

          Do you care?

          ANSWER: No. Further, big government can’t even be bothered to create Registries for non-$EX crimes and run non-stop, lying propaganda campaigns to support stupid people lying that it’s all for public safety and protecting children.

          Which is more dangerous?

          ANSWER: You have no idea.

          Can you treat the two neighbors any differently?

          ANSWER: Yes.

          For your safety, should you?

          ANSWER: No.

          Can you explain why you “need” Registries?

          ANSWER: No.

        • Dustin

          @ Will:

          Good case regarding your point that registration occasionally leads to other, more serious offenses. Guessing Caylor was not an absconder, based on the article not mentioning it if he were. Further guessing that his FTR charge came after his arrest for this murder, probably for the sole purpose of locking him up again in the unlikely event he was acquitted or otherwise released. Georgia does things like that – I know from experience. I’ve known registrant probationers to get revoked merely for being interviewed by LE investigating a different suspect of a different crime (construed as “LE contact”).

          But this case doesn’t really address the point that I was making. All I was saying was that, despite popular opinion, absconders are not out committing more crimes. There are tons of stories of absconders being arrested and charged for FTR, but I have yet to find ONE that reports anything to the effect that the absconder was caught during the commission of another offense, that he was found to be an absconder during the investigation of another offense, or that he was identified as a suspect in another offense after his FTR arrest.

          I’ve pointed out a million times (and likely will a million more) that the registry does absolutely nothing regarding the prevention of new crimes, shown by the fact that an accused’s registry status is never known until after arrest. I haven’t looked, but I don’t recall any story of a registrant being arrested for another crime (which are already pretty few and far between) being an absconder as well, indicating that their registry status was up to date. I suspect that even if an absconder is arrested for another crime (as opposed to FTR or status offense), there would be no credible indication that the new crime would not have occurred had the accused reported and updated as required.

        • AJ

          @Dustiin:
          It’s not so much that I’m holding out hope that UT is going to somehow make things better. My point is that it’s even being considered. As I said, five years ago the *only* discussion in a statehouse about RCs would have been increased burdens. This does not appear (I say again: appear) to be what’s going on in UT. The legislator, an attorney, even goes contrary to the “they’re all child molesters and can never be cured” mantra and states what we all know: RCs are a heterogeneous group. That he’s willing to “waste” his time entertaining what appear to be improvements for UT RCs, to me says there’s been a shift in mentality about it, at least from this legislator. And if he’s thinking it and speaking about it, I fully expect he’s engaged other legislators on the topic. No legislator introduces something just for fun. He obviously has some sort of passion about the topic. It may be trying to save UT money, it may be he sees what a sham and scam registries are. I don’t know, and he hasn’t told me. What I do know is there has now been two legislative sessions in UT where someone has spoken up about what appear to be easing up on registry BS. As I’ve said on here many times, I will take any amount of improvement in any manner it comes, anywhere it comes. This may not change anything now or today, but it is a slight bit more “push” on our side of the ball. That is where my optimism lies, in the long term.

          Thanks for the absconding clarification. Truth told, that people still abscond, still abduct, still commit other crimes (both sexual and non-sexual) shows the registries don’t solve the problem they claim. There is not a law anywhere in the world that can stop someone hellbent on doing something. If I don’t care about the legal repercussions of my actions, there’s little or nothing anyone can do to stop me (assuming no forewarning).

        • Notorious D.I.K. / Kennerly

          Dustin, you are generalizing about “reforms” which have a very short timeline. Reform has only recently become a cause yet you are making blanket statements about reforms. AJ points out solid progress in the reform movement. He’s correct. It is as big a mistake to think that there is no progress as to believe that no progress can be made.

  2. Fact should matter

    Again, all they do is gather in a hand-wringing session and cherry pick the “Romeo & Juliet” (which is still a contact offense, while CP possession is not).

    Either unplug Megan’s Law or stop pretending to be “pro life,” you hypocrite lawmakers.

  3. ML

    Calling all people on the registry “convicts” is almost just as wrong and inflammatory as calling all registrants predators. If someone is not incarcerated, then they are not a convict (though they may have been convicted of a crime.)

    As for this new study, I think Utah legislators know (as do most) that the registry is useless, but they dare not publicly admit lest they lose votes for being “soft on sex offenders.” Politicians (past and present) have dug themselves into a deep hole on this and they have no ladder with which to escape.

    • Anonymous

      ML, you have it exactly right. Your comment could be repeated verbatim for every news article ever written about the registry both past & present.

      • Tim

        Who needs a government of, for and by the people when you have databases to follow every heartbeat in the union. All catalogued and cross referenced to the Nth degree, with millions of different permutations. If the K. brothers or other well connected persons finds another person that in the way, just smear them or dig up dirt by reading email, or chached text. The recently elected Governor in WI, faced a similar attack in the run up to the election. Accused him outright of protecting teacher’s actions demonstrating sex improprieties! This behavior is everywhere as our founders ends it would become a political battering ram the ex post prohibition was ratified and promulgated by separation of powers.

  4. Gralphr

    “People caught in a sting(and people) who actually target in victimize children, those are very serious offenders, and the DAs office and the public have no sympathy,“ he said.

    Yes, you dont have to have sympathy when sentencing said people for breaking the law, but once one has “done their time, or paid their price” why continue to harass and demean them? Why do they their best to make it extremely hard for someone to live a normal life with their family? Why continue to harass them decades after the alleged crime, not to mention decades AFTER they have been released and have done nothing to further suspect them of a crime? Its hard to think of other crimes (including murder) in most states that cause one to come under so much scrutiny and banishment. Why is it others (including murderers) can get out in most states and be given a real chance to start a new LAW ABIDING life, but anyone (other than very attractive females) are harassed until the day they die?

    • Facts should matter

      Because it’s profitable (both financially and politically) to subjugate humans with a punitive imposition the public deems “fair and reasonable.” Go to any lawyer or lawmaker, tell them your story and they will ALWAYS side with victims, then say these laws are “the will of the people.. it’s what they want.”

      We’re not making enough noise because we’re not angry enough yet. We’ve become too complacent with falling in line and playing nice. It’s time to leave our comfort zones because many of us are not going to be alive to benefit from the long game of “baby steps” and incrementalism.

  5. USA

    Geez. The point is that Utah is at least recognizing there are many registrants on the registry who don’t belong there!!!! Great move. People need to realize that States like Ca are bankrupt and why use your resources to monitor low level offenders and individuals who pose little or no risk whatsoever to the general public. As I’ve already noted, we have the most liberal Governor who might have ever existed. It’s now time to propose and continue proposing existing laws.

  6. David

    “The sex offender registry serves multiple purposes,“ said Will Carlson, deputy Salt Lake County DA, noting a public safety component, and awareness of offenders living in individual neighborhoods.
    Along with the two-are-the-same purpose the Ass. DA notes, he failed to mention the more notable purposes of Registries:
    ⚠️ public shaming
    ⚠️ ostracizing community members
    ⚠️ ongoing public humiliation
    ⚠️ emotional damage
    ⚠️ anxiety
    ⚠️ fear of vigilantly attacks …..
    🤔 You get the point. And that doesn’t begin to list all the add-ons punishments: residency restrictions, employment restrictions, travel restrictions (IML), etc.

  7. Seeking answers

    I contacted Sen Weiler via email and told him I support him. I agree with those saying that at least he is not only realizing it’s ridiculous but actually trying to do something about it. I think he deserves support for saying it in a public forum too.

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