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ACSOL’s Online EPIC Conference: Empowered People Inspiring Change Sept 17-18, 2021

Background

The California Sex Offender Registry was established in 1947, the first in the nation. Pursuant to California Law (Penal Code 290) an individual convicted of one of more than 150 Penal Code sections results in mandatory sex offender registration for life, regardless of the severity of the offense.

Individuals convicted of a wide range of offenses, from “sexting” on a cell phone, consensual teen sex and public urination to the sexual assault of multiple children and/or adults, are listed on the CA registry. Individuals on the CA registry have been convicted of or pled guilty to offenses more than 50 years ago.

Registration Requirements have changed drastically over the course of decades and they apply to all registered citizens regardless of their conviction date. California is one of 4 states in the US that does not have a tiered registration requirement (based on either offense or perceived risk (AL, CA, FL, SC)).  In the remaining 46 states, registered citizens are assigned to a tier and man are removed from their state registry in either 10 or 20 years.

In addition to questioning the constitutionality of California’s sex offender registry, recent research has also called into question the public safety benefits and escalating costs of the registry.

California RSOL’s mission is to protect the state and federal constitutions by restoring the Civil Rights of all Citizens as well as work to provide the safest environment possible for all children. Find out more about our Mission and Beliefs.

Much of this page is sourced from the California Sex Offender Management Board (On September 20, 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 1015, which created the CASOMB.)

Numbers

Because California is the most populous state in the nation and has had a Sex Offender Registry dating back to the 1940s it is also the State with the largest Sex Offender Registry.

819, 218 – Number of Registered Sex Offenders in the United States – December 15, 2014 ((Center for Missing and Exploited Children – Map of Registered Sex Offenders in the U.S. p. 2))

97,181 – Number of Registered Sex Offenders in California ((CASOMB – Year End Report 2014 p.4)) — or — 108,420 ((Center for Missing and Exploited Children – Map of Registered Sex Offenders in the U.S. p. 2))

Given the general demographic characteristics of this country and State and making the basic assumption that at least 96% (educated guess) of all Registered Sex Offenders are adults and male, this would mean that

→ one out of 153 adult males in the US is a Registered Sex Offender ((RSO adult male: 819,218*96%(male)=786,449; Population adult male: 318,857,056*48.2%(male)*76.7%(>18)=120,325,174; 120,325,174 (Population adult male) / 786,449 (RSO adult male) = 152.9))((US Census Bureau Quickfacts))

→ one out of 155 adult males in California is a Registered Sex Offender ((RSO adult male: 97,181*96%(male)=93,294; Population adult male: 38,802,500*49.7%(male)*75%(>18)= 14,463,632; 14,463,632 (Population adult male) / 93,294 (RSO adult male) = 155.0))((US Census Bureau Quickfacts))

Evolution of the CA Registry

People are being added to the lifetime Sex Offender Registry at ever increasing rates. A comparison over time:

Decade of Conviction ……… Number of RSOs added
1940’s (1947-1949) 119
1950’s 746
1960’s 1,298
1970’s 3,290
1980’s 15,349
1990’s 27,848
2000’s 34,104
2010’s (2010-2013) 12,212

Source: CASOMB – A Better Path to Community Safety

NOTE: Extrapolating the existing numbers for 2010-13 will result in 40,700 Californians being added to the registry during the 2010s.

Re-offending

The rate of re-offense for those convicted of sex-related crimes is extremely low, about 0.8 percent for those on parole for sex offense, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation report issued in July. ((California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report p. 30)) This rate is much lower than the rate of re-offense for burglary, robbery, and assault. There are no registries for individuals convicted of those crimes or for the crime of murder.

For longer term, the California Sex Offender Management Board states:

Effective policy must be based on the scientific evidence.  Research on sex offender risk and recidivism now has created a body of evidence which offers little justification for continuing the current registration system since it does not effectively serve public safety interests. 

The research shows that, on average, after approximately 17 years living in the community free of any type of criminal offense, even high risk sex offenders are no more likely to commit a new sex offense than are individuals who had been convicted of some type of non-sexual crime.  Moderate risk sex offenders are no more likely than non-sexual offenders to commit a new sex crime after 10 to 14 years. ((CASOMB – Year End Report 2014 p.4))

Myths vs Facts

MYTH FACT
Sex offenders are all alike and should be treated alike. Sex offenders differ in many important ways, including their risk to reoffend.
The likelihood that a sex offender will re-offend does not change as time goes by. The longer a sex offender remains offense free in the community, the less likely he is to reoffend.
Most sex crimes are committed by previously identified sex offenders. About 95% of solved sex crimes are committed by individuals never previously identified as sex offenders and so not registered.
Most sex offenses are committed by persons who are strangers to the victim.  Approximately 93% of sex offenses against children are committed by persons known to the victim, not by “strangers.”
 Having a sex offender registry decreases the number of new sex crimes.  Research studies have found no relationship between having a registry and a decrease in sex offenses.
A sex offender registry helps law enforcement solve new sex offense crimes. One research study does indicate that a registry
can help law enforcement apprehend the perpetrator more quickly.
Public “notification” through a Megan’s Law website will make the public safer. Little research has been done but one study indicates that a minority of citizens access the internet information and only a minority of those take any action.

Source: CASOMB – A Better Path to Community Safety p.2

Unintended Consequences

There are many unintended consequences and indirect costs associated with sex offender registration.

  • Innocent families and children of offenders (including victims of intra-familial sexual abuse) also bear the consequences of lifetime registration since they can often be identified by the public. Adverse consequences also arise for employers, landlords, neighbors and others.
  • There has been a proliferation of residence restrictions and exclusion zones for registered sex offenders in many jurisdictions in California. Violation of these can lead to criminal charges. The obstacles posed by registration status prevent many individuals from obtaining housing or employment and becoming functioning, contributing, tax-paying members of society.
  • There is reason to believe that registration policies, especially lifetime registration, keep some victims, particularly family members of the offender, from disclosing the abuse because they wish to avoid the stigma that will impact their family and their own lives for a very long time.
  • The presence nearby of one or more registered sex offenders can drive down property values in a neighborhood and make houses difficult to sell.

If the current registration system was effective in the ways intended, these might be considered part of the price to pay for the greater good. But, since the current registry does not attain its intended purposes, many of these unintended consequences are without justification. ((CASOMB – A Better Path to Community Safety (2014), p. 6))

What is California RSOL?

We are a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the Constitutions of the State of California and the United States of America by restoring the civil rights of individuals who have been convicted of sex-related offenses. We accomplish this goal through education, legislation and litigation. We work in collaboration with the national RSOL and other civil rights organizations. We are an independent and autonomous organization and have no ties to any level of government.

We advocate for more than 100,000 families, in which at least one family member has been registered as a sex offender in the State of California. All registered persons have been harmed by a lack of due process and other civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all citizens. As a result of being denied their civil rights, many registrants have lost jobs or been unable to obtain a job, have been forced to leave their homes and neighborhoods, have lost their families and/or become homeless. In addition, some registrants have been physically harmed, even murdered, by strangers after their identities and home addresses were listed on a public website maintained by the State of California.

We Believe

  • No sexual abuse is ever acceptable.
  • Sex offense laws and policies should be based on sound research and common sense, not fear, panic or paranoia.
  • Current laws and policies that paint all sex offenders with one broad brush are counter- productive, wasteful, and cause needless harm.
  • Each offense must be judged on its own merits with a punishment that fits the crime and does not waste taxpayer dollars.
  • The public sex offender registry and residency restriction laws do not protect children but instead ostracize and dehumanize individuals and their families.
  • Money spent on purely punitive measures would be better used for prevention, healing, and rehabilitation.
  • We do not now nor have we ever had a relationship with the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA)

Resources

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