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Sex Offender Registries Are Fueling Mass Incarceration — And They Aren’t Helping Survivors

[ – 6/22/20]

The “sex offense legal regime,” which has developed alongside mass incarceration over the last forty years, has failed.

US sex offender registries now list nearly one million people. Federal, state, and local ordinances prohibit convicted sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools, parks, day care centers, and other spaces where children might congregate. In places like Miami–Dade County, these restrictions have rendered hundreds of individuals effectively homeless. Only by building and inhabiting makeshift encampments in sparsely populated areas can offenders comply with such residency requirements.

Following the passage of an especially punitive county ordinance — still on the books as of 2020 — a veritable refugee camp of registrants appeared under Miami’s Dolphin Expressway. Facing eviction and possible arrest, residents of the encampment moved to an underpass before encountering similar resistance and decamping in 2014 for an industrial area near Hialeah, a Miami suburb. In the summer of 2018, city and county officials — under pressure from area residents and business owners — applied the same punitive tactics to disband the encampment, once again displacing and dehumanizing its inhabitants. And the cycle remains unbroken: last June, registrants occupying a makeshift “colony” in Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood were forced to vacate.

Such measures might seem sensible to a broad swath of the American public. Indeed, as Judith Levine and Erica Meiners argue, sex offenders’ very humanity remains an open question. Yet these sorts of steps misrepresent the scope and nature of sexual harm in the United States, fueling mass incarceration while doing little to actually help survivors. At a time when demands to dismantle the police and unmake mass incarceration are reaching a fever pitch, we must target these myths and directly challenge the sprawling system of sex offender registration that they have produced.

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California Governor Newsome recently gave a televised commencement address to the Santa Clara University graduating class of 2020. Here is part of what he said: “As you go out into the world I urge you to lead through collaboration and empathy rather than dominance and aggression. Leadership is about creating conditions where people can live their lives out loud. That is a paradigm of thinking, and I think we are desperate for this moment. No one–no one–stands taller than when he or she bends down on one knee to hep lift other people up.” He is obviously making inference to… Read more »

Eric ~ That summed it up beautifully. It was to the point and soooo true.

You can’t even argue this one.

The article is just throwing up history and facts. And best of all, it highlights low recidivism.

One thing these movements rely on is the notion of “democracy”. Mob rule. Tell them they can do it and they’ll do it without care for those who have to suffer. The registry is all the narrative they care to know. Not the person, not the case or details. It accomplishes what the system wants: to create an easy ladder to promotion and to shame any opposition for being “soft on crime”. That’s the difficulty in defending these cases. People can’t fathom “constitutional sex offense laws”. Anything 290 related is a bitter pill. Makes it easy to keep piling on… Read more »

What’s fueling mass incarceration is the unwillingness and/or inability to address root causes for problems that result in laws being broken. Until then we will just haphazardly go along wondering why nothing has changed despite new regulations, harsher punishments, and a bunch of other garbage which actually does nothing meaningful.

We need to organize a million man march in Washington DC and have sexofenders coming from all over the United States of American.
Can you imagine the police department trying to register all those people within 5 working days its obviously impossible it would brake the internet it would prove the registry is pointlessness and these politicians would have no choice but to negotiate for change

AERO at times you sound like a pipe dream but than should we Send all our soap bars to Will care of Patty Hurt pardon Committee. This has been a paid public announcment by Bill Clinton I think. Guess truth is truth no matter how you slice it or are the right to know laws the busybody topic of the day in this brainwashing way. One wonders who marries their bodyguard today or who rats on who today with talking about what he or she did that in itself is a form of busybody or is telling the truth a… Read more »

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