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The Rise of Registries

Earlier this year, lawmakers in New York proposed a bill that would bar people convicted of multiple sex offenses from ever using New York City’s subway system again. The plan, which would inflict a form of banishment in the name of public safety, is part of a broader pattern. Sex offender registries increasingly include children under the age of 18, and some states permit children as young as 7 to be registered. But a growing body of evidence suggests that our reliance on registries—not just for sex crimes but also for terrorism, gun, and drug offenses—may allow politicians to look like they’re taking action while actually doing little to curb abuse.

To discuss the rise of registries, we are joined by Appeal contributor Guy Hamilton-Smith and Elizabeth Letourneau, professor and director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Podcast and Transcript

Join the discussion

  1. Gwen

    I would be more worried about a mugger, murderer, drug dealer on any public transportation rather than a person who is listed on the registry. This has got to be a joke, right? Or have our public representatives completely left their senses?

    • ReadyToFight

      We’re living in Clown World. They’ll circle jerk till it falls off. Ask them to do something meaningful with their power and listen to the crickets chirp. Ask them to throw shit against the wall and see what sticks and they will claw past one another for the chance. If anyone is a danger to our communities and deserve Blanket Laws to suffocate under it’s the fake ass scum bag Politicians lying through their teeth.

      • P

        Nothing will change until we amend our laws to adopt the following:

        1. re-draw districts to eliminate “safe” seats for Dems or Repubs
        2. adopt a rule whereby the top two vote-getters (regardless of party affiliation) face-off in the general election
        3. impose strict term limits

        Items #1 and #2 will have the intended effect of electing moderates, not fire-brand extremists
        Item #3 will enable politicians to take the tough vote, against popular opinion, because they will not fear being defeated or primaried.

        In the meantime, I am learning french and fully intend to seek asylum in Europe on the grounds that the current sex offender regime is, in fact, cruel and unusual punishment and antithetical to any sense of fairness.

        • Will Allen

          I support term limits 100%. Being a politician turns most people into a lying P.O.S., or they were that before. They should have no more than maybe 3 to 5 years to inflict their BS on us.

          I do think that Registered People ought to be able to seek asylum (from illegal prosecution) in better countries than the U.S. The U.S. is guilty of war crimes every day and the better countries of the world should hold them accountable.

        • Tim in WI

          @P,
          You may go, but you may not hide even when in
          Europe. You blame evangelicals yet SOR came via the national Democratic Socialists as evidenced by the make up of congress, Speaker Tom Foley, and signed into law by Bill – slick Willy- Clinton.
          You
          Keep in mind it was the Catholics on SCOTUS who looked the other way so the atheists Demigods could feed on the dirty people. All of the Jews on the Rehnquist court deemed registration ‘ unquestionably punitive. ” They knew world history. The Mormons moved into the digital age faster than any other evangelical group as evidenced by two separate actions 1 They built the largest database ever created in their state boundries, 2. They purchased, by custom contract, the first digital High Def broadcasting & camera technology. They made it profitable and leased them out to other evangelical broadcasters.

    • Gralphr

      That’s just it. People claim it’s a RIGHT to know if a sex offender lives nextdoor, but dont seem to feel the same way about murderers, repeat burglars, people convicted of meth manufacturing, etc. Its straight out of the twilight zone! I chalk it up to Americas childish behavior towards the subject of sexuality and its claim to be a Christian nation………

      • TS

        @Gralphr

        Under what RIGHT does that come from in their minds? The USG wants to say it is under public interest to know in the name of safety, etc (paraphrase), but can the person on the street in a residence say the same?

        • Will Allen

          Sure, the person on the street can say that and they do. They say all the time that they have a right to know about “$EX offenders” near them. For “safety”. But of course they don’t any such right. Because if they did then I would have a right to know about all people near me who had ever committed any dangerous or serious crime. And obviously that’s not the case.

          $EX Offender Registries are not legitimate or legal. Wage war.

      • P

        evangelical christians are overwhelmingly hypocrite assholes, who wrap themselves in the thin veneer of prudence and “morality” in an effort to promulgate racist, homophobic, and misogynistic policies. christian conservatives are a profoundly sexist and bigoted group clinging to their bibles and guns, looking to admonish “sinners” and subjugate them all in the name of some magic sky daddy. Future generations will look back on this time and marvel at just how paranoid and maladjusted we were, not unlike how we consider the Spanish Inquisition or medieval treatment of “witches”.

        • AJ

          @P:
          I think we’re all already aware of your passionate opinion. Even so, Jesus loves you.

        • Punkrocker88

          @p I don’t put people down for there religion but I will say this I agree with you. On the grounds with the Bible if God is real how come people suffer but not just people on the registration but the ones that die young and what not. religion is not good when it comes to politics

        • AJ

          @Punkrocker88:
          “if God is real how come people suffer [and others] die young and what not”
          —–
          Would anyone need a god/God if people didn’t?
          =====

          “religion is not good when it comes to politics”
          —–
          I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you on this.

  2. Tim in WI

    THE RISE OF THE REGISTRIES
    Was precipitated by the advent of the electronic database. A registry is purely a colloquial term with less consultative impact than government database, in this case, of convicted sex crime or kidnapping. Given no sex proof of Jacob Wetterlings fate at enactment why not choose to call it ‘ kidnappers registry? ” MARKETING! Sex sells. Even unconstitutional and unfettered use of the database.

    I emailed the Author a few weeks back to suggest ending Advocates minimization of the impact of the registry databases by referring to them as registry alone.

    This tact will be absolutely key to any hopes of abolishing the practice. Indeed man must remain superior to machine database, AI or not.

  3. Facts should matter

    The only registry we need is a bridal registry.

    Nothing is going to bring about meaningful change until we get mad enough and stop saying “it is what it is.”

  4. Bo

    Enjoy asking people this. Would you rather have someone convicted of a DUI or a sex offense drive your child home?

    Most people who dont know a so, choose wrong.

  5. Tim in WI

    Q&A@FTR: Line D, email

    Agent does SOR intend to communicate with registrants via email? No!
    Agent communication is the normal use\ purpose of email addresses? Yes.
    Agent SOR intends to utilize email addresses for a purpose outside emails addresses normal use? What is that use? For purposes of law.
    Agent does SOR intend to share that address with ( thirsty sic)third parties? Yes.

  6. USA

    Very misleading article! It’s almost hilarious to read your comments. NY is proposing to ban repeat (2 or more times) sex offenders who have been convicted twice on a subway (groping/grinding/or other lewd acts)! So, if you commit 2 different sex offenses on a NY Subway, the law proposes you will be banned? Duh. You obviously have issues! I 100% support this proposal! This came about by a man named Gian Verdelli who has been arrested over 70 times for sex offenses on a Subway! Go NY

    • New York Level 1

      USA,

      Ah, so you are the expert on who is a danger to society?

      Punishment without rehabilitation solves nothing. Banning people from public services is absolutely detrimental to the goal of rehabilitation and recovery.

      The proposed ban on people convicted of multiple sex-related crimes does nothing beyond make people feel good and diminish the quality of life of others. It is cruel and counter-productive.

      USA, as a fellow registrant, you should be ashamed of yourself for engaging in the exact same moralizing behavior that led to society putting you on the registry in the first place.

      Get off your high horse. You’re no better than the rest of us.

  7. Chris f

    Politicians shouldnt have their hand in this at all. The judiciary is tasked with protecting the public from those charged with crimes and must taylor it to the individual and the circumstances. No law needed.

    If someone is a repeat subway sex offender, the judge decides if a ban is needed and for how long and only applies while on probation or parole unless there is some extreme condition that requires otherwise and was addressed in a fair trial with options to appeal.

    Legislators need to stay out of court business.

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