Kat’s Blog: The Registry: If It’s Not Punishment, Then What Is It?

We’re tired of hearing that the registry isn’t punishment. Tired of “it’s for public safety” rhetoric that politicians use to keep the public in a constant state of fear, fanning the flames of hatred and depicting anyone on the registry as a violent, predatory monster.

The registry is punishment. The courts know it. Registrants know it. Families, friends, spouses and children of registrants know it. The registry protects no one. There is nothing remotely “safe” or public friendly about the registry.

It was disturbing to read that in Kansas, the United States Court of Appeals 10th Circuit, recently reaffirmed the authority of states to maintain “sex offender” registries as a way to “inform the public”, and rejected the claim that they are a form of punishment. How can that be I wondered?

When I read about the Kansas affirmation, my first thought was, what exactly are they “informing” the public of? That there is a citizen who committed an offense, who has already served his/her sentence, who may be living their community?  So what? There are probably a lot of ex-offenders living in their community that they aren’t aware of.  If “informing” the public of where offenders live really could keep them safe, (safe from what exactly, remains unclear), wouldn’t the public want to be informed of every manner of offender in their community? Wouldn’t they want to know about every murderer, thief, drunk driver and forger in their area? Wouldn’t they want to keep their families safe from those offenders as well as from registrants? I mean if we’re talking safety, let’s be truthful, anyone could be a potential danger, whether they’re an ex-offender, registrant or the guy/girl next door.

If the courts want to keeping justifying the need for registries with the same old “public safety” ideology, then shouldn’t they keep the public informed and safe from all manner of ex-offenders and not just registrants?

I came across several different variations of the definition of “punishment”. Punishment, to impose a penalty on for a fault, offense or violation. The imposition of a penalty or deprivation for wrongdoing. The infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.

Doesn’t the term punishment seem to be exactly what those on the registry are having to endure? A penalty that continues long after they have completed their sentences, an ongoing deprivation to their way of life, retribution for a specific kind of offense? Why is the punishment aspect of the registry so obvious to us and so difficult for those in the courts to understand? The definitions are pretty clear.

Public safety/security also had several meanings, the welfare and protection of the general public. Safeguarding and protecting people from crimes, disasters and other potential dangers and threats. The measure to protect the masses and to ensure their welfare and well-being.

Registrants are part of the general public. If public registries put them at risk, that’s not protecting their welfare and public safety. Aren’t they entitled to the same “public safety protection” as everyone else?  While the idea of safeguarding the public from potential dangers and threats sounds good, the courts seem to assume that every registrant is a potential danger or threat. We know that’s not true.

The registry. While there’s been no evidence that it has kept anyone safe, there’s plenty of evidence that it has caused harm. The registry. If it’s not punishment, then what is it?


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I can think of about a million people off the top of my head that will tell you without a doubt the Registry is Punishment.

@KAT – What is it? It is a database machine property. The term “sex offender registry” is a pejorative phrase meant to distract the people and distort public perception concerning the collateral implications from the gov. choice toward embracing unfettered uses of the database machine driven infrastructure.

Having a database is one thing but the plain human indenture implicit in the regime is quite another. It is nothing short of the purpose filled reconstitution of human slavery through subservience. That the big data daddies have convinced the people otherwise is testimony to the power of effective Madison Avenue marketing. Like pine marten to feathered snare! Resistance is futile you must comply!I

This have never been a civil rights issue. This is a human rights issue!

Yes! It is punishment. Because of the registry, I have been threatened, called names, and most recently, lost a very high paying job, ($30 an hour). It’s the Scarlet Letter of our day.

Registration is modern day slavery giving up our information to the government for public safety. If you don’t comply you get a felony, so how is that not punishment. What other crime does the goal posts move at a drop of a hat? It’s not to improve people’s lives, but to restrict more of their freedom which isn’t what the government job. Government is supposed to protect people from imposing on their freedom!!!

There are only two types that will say that the Registry is not punishment:

Deniers and Liars.

The registry is definitely punishment, and I know that everyone agrees, some just don’t want to or can’t admit it. We can’t go on vacation during the 5 days where he has to register, or he will be sent to prison for a FTR. We have cops show up for compliance checks years after probation has ended. We can’t take a vacation in any other state or country without risking breaking one of the million rules and regulations that come with the registry. The list goes on. So what type of person can honestly say and actually believe that the registry is not punishment? Plus, everything is always about protecting the public from ex-offenders, yet nobody seems to worry about the future offender, or the soon to be offender who might just live in your own household, church, school, gym, or family?

While the state’s legislature is not intending the registry to be punishment, when does what society does negatively with the public info become the crux of the matter for all to consider? The fine print of the registry in CA, as I understand it, for example, is the info cannot be used in many ways against the person forced to register, despite the reality of it being used in such manners against the person forced to register. When and where does the court look at what is being done with the public info, as was in Millard v Rankin case examples, and the court says it is unconstitutional and punishment, given the job and living examples, as Judge Matsch said? What is the bridge to get the legal environment to realize that society is violating other people by using this public gov’t database for ways beyond the original notification intent? When will the powers that be realize they are giving this tool to society to use as they see fit for negative purposes and not for the original notification intent only with the ability to live a good life after having served the sentence meted out? Will it take legislation to force employers to tell people why they are not being hired for a job, e.g. more than just saying it was filled by another more qualified candidate or hired internally? Or maybe force apartment mgrs to write a letter to justify why they did not rent to you? Will it take something like that to get the alleged reason why people forced to register are denied so much in life after having served the sentence?

IMHO, The courts can be and are, at times with certain cases, becoming more like the Roman Coliseum attendees with their alleged thumb votes of those who are in battle in the Coliseum for who survives and who does not. (Pollice verso or verso pollice is a Latin phrase, meaning “with a turned thumb” but comes with much scholarly debate about it, but for the sake of discussion here, it applies to my analogy as I see.) As our country as gotten older, the populace has gotten wiser to the courts and should demand more of them, e.g. no more non-published opinions or no reasons given by SCOTUS for not hearing a case. The person behind the curtain needs to show the reasoning and rationale and stop being secretive. How does a society grow when these are not released for learning? This is not a secret society where signs, signals, and handshakes are known by a few so they can know what goes on in chambers. An open and free society, we allegedly are, should make their courts open and free to all decisions and reasoning why courts opined as they did on whatever decision is made.

I yield the rest of my time to the masses in this forum…

We have about a million people on the registry. That is quite a political force. Imagine if all those people were continually sending letters, emails, and making phone calls. It would be hard to ignore them for long. Most of us can vote, too.

California’s disclaimer about not using the Registry info for this or that is just so they can’t be sued if and when something happens against a Registrant.

1. Slavery and involuntary servitude is prohibited.
…. In-person re-registration compels an individual to physically go to the local PD and forced to give private info, take a picture, and get fingerprinted who is supposed to be no longer under custody. This registry scheme only affect one sub-group of criminals, which now violates the equal protection clause.
…. The difference between the registry and jury duty is that jury duty applies to all and the registry applies only to those convicted of a specific categorical crime. Plus, those on jury duties get paid.
…. The difference between the registry and tax reporting is that tax reporting does not require in-person reporting, nor is that private information is shared.
…. The difference between the registry and prison road work is that registrant are no longer under custody.

Why isn’t involuntary servitude not brought to the forefront now that in-person re-registration is required whereas the 2003 Smith v Doe did not address this because Alaska only had registration via mail?

2. NJ Bureau did a 20-year study on the registry which consisted of a 10-year study before the implementation of the registry and 10-year study after the implementation of the registry. The conclusion found no difference in recidivism. If there is no difference in results, then it doesn’t matter if the registry is regulatory or punishment because it has been proven to have no effect. (I believe @Mike R had the link shared several years ago.)

3. In California’s constitution, it specifically denotes that the right to privacy is an inalienable right, “the right to pursue and obtain privacy.” Thus, the loss of this right is punishment under the California constitution. The very fact the CA Constitution states “the right to pursue and obtain privacy” implies that one can lose that right, but also have the ability to regain it. With the terminology of “lifetime registration’, then the state has violated its own constitution has ‘a lifetime term’ implies no avenue to obtain privacy.

Not punishment to have your name doxed on the Internet?! Hell, it’s a form of torture and terrorism. It’s intentional wanton reckless endangerment with malice. The desired effect is to embolden vigilantes to cull us (and our loved ones) off like disposable trash.

“Collateral consequence” my ass.