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Commentary

Time to Purge Bloated Sex Offender Registries

[creators.com – 2/22/20]

Those who fight for a more equitable way to keep track of sexual predators won a big victory in Michigan last week. That is a state with some 44,000 names on its sexual offenders registry.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland put his foot down and gave the Michigan legislature 60 days to rewrite its current “unconstitutional” registry statute. Last spring, Cleland set a 90-day deadline for lawmakers to rework the law, but he was ignored. This time, he’s serious.

Everyone agrees we need to keep track of career sex criminals after they are released from prison. Once they’ve been convicted of violent sex crimes, it’s possible they’ll reoffend. A public safety monitoring system makes sense.

But understand that these state registries — there is one in every state — are bloated beyond belief with many names that shouldn’t be there. Registries were mandated by federal law in the mid-’90s to keep watch over ex-convict pedophiles who sexually targeted children. Somewhere along the line, we lost our way.

Included in the registry over the years have been: a 10-year-old female caught “play-acting sex” and then branded with “criminal sexual conduct” charges; a 19-year-old boy caught with his 15-year-old girlfriend; drunks discovered urinating or streaking in public; average citizens unjustly accused of sex crimes during ugly divorces; and men duped into believing that an intimate partner was not a minor when she was. Many of these people, often caught up in a moment of normal human passion, have been forced to register as sex criminals — for the rest of their lives.

Do we really want to lump these kinds of “criminals” in with hardcore sexual predators?

Read the full article

 

Join the discussion

  1. cool CA RC

    Everyone agrees we need to keep track of career sex criminals after they are released from prison. Once they’ve been convicted of violent sex crimes, it’s possible they’ll reoffend. A public safety monitoring system makes sense.

    No not everyone agree..

    • Matthew

      Yes, career offenders should be monitored. Obviously they cant stop doing what they are doing and need to be monitored closer

      • Will Allen

        There can’t be Registries. Because they are stupid and don’t work.

        So I guess for career criminals it must be ever escalating punishment followed by parole.

        And there are few who can’t stop. They don’t want to stop.

      • Jethro

        No !
        They should NOT be monitored the way you say. ONLY THE POLICE HAVE THAT RIGHT BECAUSE FREE IS FREE AND IF THEY ARE REALLY THAT DANGEROUS….WELL , HELLO ….THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSE TO BE FREE !
        DUH !
        WHY ! BECAUSE IT ATTRIBUTES THE EXCEPTION OF SEXUAL OFFENDERS AND APPLIES IT TO THE MAJORITY WITHOUT PROPER DUE PROCESS OR JUST CONSIDERATION OF FACTS, PROOF AND EVIDENCE PER EACH AND INDIVIDUAL CASE BY CASE 😁
        REGISTRIES ARE ILLEGAL BECAUSE THEY VIOLATE CIVIL/CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS…THATS WHY CASTRATION AND CRUEL/UNUSUAL METHODS HAVE BEEN ALLOWED AND IT IS WRONG !!!
        HUMANS ARE NOT SUPPOSE TO CROSS MORALS, STANDARDS, VALUES AND ETHICS TO ACHIEVE WHATEVER MEANS THEY WANT AT THE EXPENSE/COST OF LIFE AND LIBERTY TO OTHERS, JUST FOR THE SAKE OF THE CAUSE whatever cause that may be !!!
        So, Stop talking about the few that are truly DANGEROUS AND SKIPPING THE FACT THAT THE LAW HAS NO RIGHT TO RUIN THE MAJORITY TO CORRECT THE FEW !
        HELLO !
        THE LAW HAS NO RIGHT TO CAUSE HARM IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE WHILE DOING INJUSTICE, HOW RETARDED IS THIS TO EVEN STATE SUCH A THING !!!
        THE LAW IS A PROCESS AND THAT PROCESS IS A MUST DO IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE JUSTICE…
        Are We Looking Closely at THE LEGAL ROUTE/PROCESS THAT ENABLES AND INSURES JUSTICE IS ALLOWED TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO THE ACCUSED ???
        Think About It !
        A Run of the Mill Court in America goes like this OUTLANDISH EXECUTION OR SHAMEFULL PRACTICES OF SO CALLED QUICK AND UN MERCIFUL AND UNEDUCATED, DEFENDANT BIASED JUDICIAL KANGAROO COURT THAT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE ETHICAL / LEGALISTIC CODES AND LENCH COMMITY THAT ISOLATES PEOPLE AND Causes a Wide Variety of PROBLEMS IN THE EX OFFENDERS LIFE, such as Psychological, Economical, Social and Emotional…as many other areas of life !
        Why should Studies, Reports, Evaluations, Statistics, Surveys, and Research be after the Accused is LONG TIME BEHIND BARS..WHO WOULD AGREE THIS IS THE RIGHT/MORAL WAY TO OPERATE THE U.S. JUDICIAL SYSTEM ?
        What Fair Trial can ensue , after The Prosecution can Bombard the Defense with
        Endless Charges, when Rational, Reasonable and Logical people RECOGNIZE AND DO NOT ALLOW SUCH MOCKERY OF THE DEMOCRATIC OATH AND SYSTEM OR RULE OF LAW !!
        THIS IS WHY WE SEE PERSECUTION and/or PERVERSION of Civil/Constitutional RIghts 🙋‍♂️
        Thnks

      • TS

        @Mathew

        Folks who are like those you are describing then need help from professionals and should be in a setting where they can get it and not be a threat to society if they are deemed as such. I don’t believe in civil commitment because that seems to be a one-way system, check-in but never -out, ever; but at one time in this country we used to have campuses where those who mentally could not live in society would be housed and treated (albeit with dubious methods at the time) until either they could leave or else. If folks such as those you describe need to be in these places as determined by professionals through professional methods, then so be it because a registry is not or ever has been the answer.

    • R M

      @ cool CA RC: If you quote something put the quote in “..” and reference the subject. Otherwise it is your words and some may interpret the words as your own.

    • Facts should matter

      The COPS hijacked the original legislative intent and goal of Megan’s Law, then reverse engineered it into their own personal PR campaign machine. They’re using it to win back the confidence of the public after they gun down children during traffic stops and no-knock raids. Just like with Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk,” the cops abused it for their own personal gain (pride, ego, grants, etc.)

      • w

        @Facts should matter

        Excellent observation, yes this is mostly PR fluff to influence and misinform the public and keep the gears turning on their rso machine. It’s an easy topic to exploit and creates all the fear they need to drive the point home at every election. One poster story creates hell for the many. One heinous incident is enough to launch 1,000 bills.

    • Dustin

      @ cool CA RC:

      What exactly is a “career sex criminal”?

      Are Larry Nassar and Jerry Sandusky “career sex criminals”? They’re in prison for life, so how do their crimes support the need for such an extensive monitoring system?

      Is Wayne Chapman a “career sex criminal”? Yes, he claims to have molested over 100 boys, was convicted for two of them, and served double his sentence through the civil commitment program. But he’s also over 70 years old, flat broke, homeless, wheelchair bound, and has Parkinson’s disease. Is he seriously considered threatening enough to warrant extensive monitoring?

      Is Gerald Turner, the Halloween Killer, a “career sex criminal”? He was convicted for crimes from exactly ONE circumstance. He was paroled and revoked twice (the first because an appellate court ruled the granted authority screwed up, the second for porn – not child porn, adult porn – a status offense), but never accosted anyone during his release. Last I saw, he was facing civil commitment proceedings where the state’s entire case is based on his previous offenses rather than his conduct since. I for one don’t see how that’s not trying him twice for the same offense and sending him back to civil commitment (functionally equivalent to prison) doesn’t violate double jeopardy.

      How about those targeted by ICAC in their child porn stings or the bait-and-switch TCAP chat stings? Are they “career sex criminals”? I’ve met a few of those in the court-ordered treatment groups. They’re some of the most socially awkward people I’ve ever met; almost deathly afraid of actual, in-person interaction and live(d) vicariously on line.

      For the (very few and far-between) repeat offenders, what good did extensive monitoring do if those prior offenders still managed to commit or attempt another crime? And what purpose does extended monitoring of the other 95+% who are unlikely to ever commit another crime again, sexual or otherwise?

      And finally, is such extensive monitoring even possible for most LE? They always complain about how their resources are few and dwindling. Does it make sense to use them monitoring (often harassing) individuals who statistically don’t pose a threat, while ignoring the gang members, burglars, dope dealers, and drunk drivers who statistically do?

      The fact is that law enforcement can’t do anything regarding the prevention of any crime. They can only deal with them after they occur. The public is just going to have to accept that people must provide their own safety and security through their own diligence. Relying on the state to do it for them is simply foolish, especially considering politicians tends to screw up and over-complicate any issue they address while providing for their own private financial security.

      • ab

        You are absolutely correct that law enforcement can’t really do anything to prevent any crime. Actually real crime prevention should be a social responsibility, not a legal one. Something is not prevented minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months before it happens. Real prevention occurs years and decades in advance so that the thought of the choice that could lead to undesirable outcomes is not acted upon.

  2. Keep up the fight

    I think we need to contact these journalists and tell them how much we appreciate their articles and efforts for the cause.
    Interesting how many are women, but then women have always been more compassionate, understanding, and forgiving.
    Tell them your personal story and re affirm to them we are not monsters.

  3. Jack

    We’re making headway. BUT, the registry needs to go entirely. It’s cruel and unusual punishment. Judge Matsch is the only one so far to tell the total unmitigated truth.

    • What's the latest in CO?

      Can anyone tell me what the status is of Matsch’s ruling currently being appealed in the 10th Circuit?

  4. Tim in WI

    Really?
    All the aftermath is reflection of the underlying intent of the electronic database machine regime in the first cause coming out of the Wetterling Act in OMNIBUS94!
    THE INTENT WAS ALWAYS affirmative disability and restraint.
    Besides that somebody figured out how to make a buck.

  5. Brandon From Michigan

    I’m not sure what to think of this.. could be good! Have to read the whole thing.. The first part isn’t so good lol

    Any thoughts on this?

    https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/rethinking-sex-offender-registries

    • Dustin

      I only skimmed it, but I don’t but the parts I’ve read.

      The overall point of the story is to try to make the registry “better.” But there are absolutely no positives about the registry to improve on, largely because it’s based on a lie – that those convicted of sex offenses a) have committed hundreds of others before getting caught and b) that they will do so again.

      As with nearly every other law named after a crime victim, the registry would not have prevented what happened to Jacob Wetterling had it been in effect at the time. Despite being a person of interest in a previous abduction, Danny Heinrich had no priors and wouldn’t have been on it. That he wasn’t implicated until 26 years later is either the result of his own cleverness or shoddy detective work.

      Ditto Megan Kanka. Paul Kramer’s infamous claim that she would be alive today if his community notification law were in effect at the time is belied by the fact that everyone in that neighborhood did in fact know that a previously convicted sex offender lived at the residence in which she was killed, even if not her murderer.

      And finally, Adam Walsh, whose murder had no sexual component whatsoever. His killer also had no priors, at least nothing major, certainly nothing that would have him registered had the registry existed at the time.

      If you think about it, the registry probably would have hindered (at least) the Wetterling and Walsh investigations. Odds are, the public and law enforcement would have been certain that the perpetrators were registrants and would have focused all their efforts on them which, in both cases, would have turned up nothing but the possibility (likelihood?) of accusing and convicting the wrong person.

      The registry provides nothing to the public in terms of safety. The implication that all registrants are like Danny Heinrich, Jesse Timmendequas, Ottis Toole, or Gerald Turner and suggestions to “take steps to protect yourself from them” (though never stating what those steps should be) take focus away from where a child’s actual abuser usually comes from – their own family or social circle.

      The registry provides nothing for law enforcement, and to date has never played even the smallest role in the investigation of a sex crime because those accused are more often than not identified by the victim (most of the time), DNA (on occasion), or other evidence. Nor does it provide anything about a suspect that isn’t in scores of other sources. It’s only use is to solicit bigger grants to maintain it, less than half of which is actually spent doing so.

      Prosecutors support the registry because it pretty much guarantees convictions for any crime committed by those on it, though few and far between, regardless of circumstance. It should be noted that DAs love sex crime in general because the burden of proof is almost non-existent due to the politics of the moment, and that the majority of registrant arrests are for registry-specific status offenses.

      The “need to monitor the worst” argument also falls flat. There are adequate laws in place to allow additional supervision or confinement of such individuals, who will always show indications of necessity outside of the name of the specific statute for which they were convicted.

      The registry is the epitome of government waste. It costs millions per year, provides nothing toward it (supposed) stated purpose (the sex crime rate has remain unchanged since the enactment of Megan’s Law), costs untold millions in the court system due to the obvious and ludicrous unconstitutionality, and only gets bigger and worse every year. Additions and amendments never achieve their purpose either, and only further complicate an unruly and worthless system.

      It’s like making a pie out of dogshit. Changing the dog’s diet, adding different spices to the mix, or putting more sugar on top won’t change that it’s still dogshit and will always smell and taste like it. The problem is that much of the public has been persuaded that they’re getting a pumpkin one.

      • CR

        Nicely written, Dustin. Clear and logical writing like that, brief and to the point, without rancor, should be easily consumed by anyone reading it. If posted in opposition to articles supporting the registry, or in support of articles critical of it, it could provoke positive thought in people who have mindlessly supported them, or never given them much thought. The dog shit part might need to be amended, depending on the venue.

      • TS

        @Dustin

        +1 for your content. That should be sent on to others who opine on and advocate for the registries.

        Dubious claims without facts is prevalent in the article…what a shame. “Although effective in some respects at reducing crime, today’s sex-offender registries do not work as well as they could. Current registries are too inclusive, are overly restrictive, and end up hurting some of those they are intended to help. With some common-sense reforms, sex-offender registries could become far more effective in improving public safety.”

      • New Person

        +1

        Great comment and response.

  6. The Vampire

    I pray this registers list will be destroyed by all 50 state’s. Too walk around in this so-called Land of the free and home of the brave. I don’t see it. I see! Land of the punishment and home of the weak minds. When something bad happens in our country. All the people jump in to OMG mode we need too pass a law so this doesn’t happen again. But then it does happen again and again. Even with a useless law that is too help make victims feel better. Our country fails 1000%. Guess why? Money to keep their bogus lawmakers jobs. If they can’t make victims than no money honey! So i feel i am being molested again by lawmakers who use my pain and abuse for THEIR pockets. All I get is so called justice and they make money off me and my abuser. What a deal!! Taxpayer’s

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