Sex Offender Registry

Sex Offender Laws Are Broken. These Women Are Working To Fix Them.

Standing up for the rights of a widely reviled group isn't for the faint of heart.

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Sandy Rozek is the polar opposite of what comes to mind when you hear the word activist. A 78-year-old great-grandmother and retired high school English teacher who lives in Houston, Rozek is not woke, doesn't post on Twitter, and spearheads a movement you've probably never heard of.

Rozek works with the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL). She is one of several women who lead an effort to oppose the unjust, irrational, and ineffective laws that continue to punish sex offenders long after they have served their time.

All 50 states have sex offender registries, and the U.S. Justice Department combines them in a single national database. The information, which is available online to the general public, covers nearly 1 million people, whose crimes run the gamut from streaking to rape. In addition to the stigma imposed by that electronic pillory, registration comes with a panoply of restrictions that dictate where people can live and work, when and where they are allowed to travel, and even whether they're allowed to pick up their own children from school or take them to the park.

Reform organizations cite four major reasons for scaling back or eliminating the registry. They say it's unconstitutional, imposing ex post facto penalties that deprive registrants of rights everyone else enjoys; it's unscientific, relying on discredited beliefs about the danger that registrants pose; it's unforgiving, disrupting people's lives decades after they've completed their sentences; and it's undiscriminating, burdening not just the registrants themselves but their families and communities.

In this #MeToo moment, when everyone seems focused on holding men accountable for their sexual crimes, the civil rights of people who have committed such offenses tend to get short shrift. But both movements are spearheaded by women who are determined to change the national narrative about sex crimes.

Most of the registry reformers are in their 60s or 70s, with grown children and grandchildren. Unlike the founders of the #MeToo movement, they have not been featured in glossy magazine articles lauding their courage. But make no mistake: These women are brave. Many have been shunned by their friends and family because of their stances. Speaking out against the registry means aligning yourself with modern-day lepers, people who are viewed with fear and disgust by the vast majority of Americans.

Never-Ending Punishment

Like many others in the movement, Rozek became a registry reformer because of a personal connection. About a decade ago, one of her friends was convicted of having an inappropriate sexual relationship. While it didn't put her on the registry, she served a term of probation and had to complete a treatment program. "I really got started with it because of the treatment angle," Rozek says. "In Texas, sex offender treatment is a joke. They don't treat. They monitor. They intimidate."

When Rozek started volunteering at NARSOL, she was 65. Her first task: scouring the internet for articles on sex offenders and using the comment sections to post corrections. She also penned the occasional op-ed. Eventually she became NARSOL's communications director, writing for the website, helping to run its committees, and organizing its conferences. She spends up to eight hours a day on the work, all unpaid.

As a Christian, Rozek "just cannot accept that people cannot be forgiven." If a sex offender has "served his time, and if he's trying his best to be a decent human being now and wants to be a law-abiding citizen," Rozek says, "we need to not throw roadblocks in his path….If it was 30 years ago, and the person did everything required, has fulfilled every legal obligation, has been free and clear of any involvement with law enforcement for 30 years, has established a family, has been living with this family for years now, and then all of a sudden he cannot live with them anymore [because of residence restrictions ], that is a horrible destruction to families."

Although most of the people on the registry are men, most of the people running the reform movement are women. Nobody really knows why, but there are a few theories.

"Women, in our culture, pull together the families," says Emily Horowitz, a professor of sociology at St. Francis College who is an expert on sex offender registries. "That's a lot of the reason why women fight so hard. I think men are somewhat hesitant to weigh in on something that's about sexual violence, because it could be viewed as like, 'Oh, you're defending men who hurt women.'"

NARSOL, which was founded in 2007 and has branches in 19 states, is the oldest and largest sex offender law reform organization. It is joined by three other national groups, all led by women, most of whom have a friend, son, or husband on the registry.

The crimes that will land someone on the list vary by state, but they include not just assaultive crimes such as rape and child molestation but also nonpredatory offenses such as public urination, promotion of prostitution, and possession of child pornography. Children as young as 9 have to register in some places. A handful of states require people convicted of any sex offense to register for life—and even after death.

In many states, registration comes with residence restrictions. Under those local and state laws, registrants typically are banned from living within 1,000 or 2,000 feet of schools, parks, churches, or day care centers. The practical impact of such exclusion zones can be so dramatic that registrants end up homeless. In Miami, dozens of them live under a bridge.

Several states also prohibit registrants from visiting locations such as parks, schools, community pools, and day care centers. Sometimes they even restrict where people can work. In Alabama, registrants are not allowed to be employed within 500 feet of "a playground, park, athletic field or facility, or child-focused business or facility." Such rules compound the problems registrants already face in finding jobs. Many businesses don't want to hire them, especially since some states require that employers of sex offenders also be listed in the registry.

'The Key Word Is Rational'

The national sex offender registry was created in 1994 by a law named after Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old Minnesota boy who was kidnapped and murdered in 1989. That law required states to create registries listing people convicted of sexually violent offenses or crimes against children. Unlike today's databases, this registry was visible only to law enforcement agencies.

Two years later, the law was expanded after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was brutally murdered by a sex offender in New Jersey. Megan's Law, passed in 1996, made registries accessible to the general public as part of a community notification mandate. In the 2003 case Smith v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld sex offender registration, deeming it a form of civil regulation rather than criminal punishment.

That decision encouraged the expansion and proliferation of laws targeting sex offenders. "I call them sex offense registration laws on steroids," says Southwestern University law professor Catherine Carpenter. "We're dealing with laws that have no bounds, because the Supreme Court said that they were civil regulations." From 2003 to 2012, Carpenter says, the number of covered offenses increased "dramatically," and so did the length of registration. Those changes, she notes, were accompanied by "egregious collateral consequences," such as residence restrictions.

In 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) further tightened restrictions on sex offenders, requiring some to register for life and mandating that they keep their addresses up to date or face felony charges. Today all states require adults convicted of sex crimes to register, and 38 states require some children to register as well. When "we literally started putting kids on the public registry," Horowitz says, that showed "it's not really about protecting children."

The official goal of registering sex offenders is preventing sexual assault, but experts don't think it does that. "The premise of adult registration is you've demonstrated your dangerousness, and we think that means you're going to be a future danger," Carpenter says. "The empirical evidence does not support that."

The idea that sex offenders are especially likely to reoffend is a myth. A 2012 meta-analysis of sex offender recidivism rates published in Criminal Justice and Behavior found that most offenders' likelihood of committing another sexual offense over a five-year period was around 7 percent. A study of sex offender recidivism in Connecticut found an even lower rate: 3.6 percent. "People who commit sex offenses have the lowest recidivism rate of almost any crime besides murder," Horowitz says. A 2003 study found that in Illinois, about 37 percent of those convicted of nonsexual assault will be arrested for the same offense within five years, while only 6.5 percent of sex offenders and 5.7 percent of murderers will be rearrested for the same offenses.

Not only that, but data from the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey indicate that more than 90 percent of sex offenders are people known to the victim, such as relatives, friends, and coaches. And according to a 2008 study of sex offenders in New York, around 95 percent of people arrested for sex offenses do not have prior records for this sort of crime, meaning they would not be listed in a registry.

"The registry wasn't developed out of research," Horowitz says. "It was developed out of emotion and fear, which is a recipe for disaster in public policy."

Rozek and other leaders of the registry reform movement want the laws to be grounded in science. "It's the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws," Rozek says, "and the key word is rational. Something that is rational is based on science, based on fact, based on evidence. The registry isn't, and certainly none of the laws coming out of the registry are based on any evidence or any science."

'What Would Atticus Do?'

While Rozek became a reformer after her friend was convicted of a sex crime, it was a chance encounter that led Janice Bellucci to the movement. One day in 2011, Bellucci, a 67-year-old California attorney who spent most of her career in aerospace law, was talking to Frank Lindsay, a water treatment specialist who was fixing her home's reverse osmosis system, when he mentioned that he had written a book. "Quite frankly," she says, "reading his book changed my life."

Bellucci found out that in 1979 Lindsay had committed a sex crime against a child under the age of 14, a crime for which he spent a year in jail, nearly all of it on weekends, thanks to a work furlough program. More than three decades later, he had not reoffended, but he was still subject to legal restrictions and potentially deadly threats. "A stranger broke into his home and tried to murder him because he was on the Megan's Law website," Bellucci says. "He escaped from his own house after being hit a couple times with a hammer. I just couldn't believe that any group of people in our country today [was] being treated that way."

On a sabbatical from her work at a California nonprofit, Bellucci couldn't get the sex registry out of her mind. "This issue kept popping up, kind of like a jack-in-the-box," she says. "And finally I sat down with myself, and I said, 'Why did I go to law school?' It was the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, and the character Atticus Finch. I'm like, 'What would Atticus do?'" The answer seemed obvious to her.

Bellucci initially tried to interest the American Civil Liberties Union of California in the issue. "They basically said [they couldn't help] because they're afraid that if they became known as sex offender attorneys, their funding would disappear, which I think is a very cowardly position," she says.

Bellucci's children were adults, she was unmarried, and she decided she could "do anything I want to do." So she founded the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offender Laws (ACSOL). To this day, a needlepoint of "What Would Atticus Do?" sits on her desk, next to a Ruth Bader Ginsburg action figure.

Like many in the movement, Bellucci believes sex offender restrictions are unconstitutional. As a lawyer, she could do something about that, but she did not have a lot of resources. So she and the few early members of ACSOL decided to go after "low-hanging fruit": Halloween-related restrictions in California.

In Simi Valley, Bellucci learned, sex offenders were required to post signs on their front doors during Halloween, alerting neighbors that they were on the registry and warning trick-or-treaters to stay away. She sued the city, arguing that the requirement was a form of compelled speech prohibited by the First Amendment. She won.

The Halloween signs are a good example of sex offender policies that have no basis in fact. A 2009 analysis of 67,000 sex crimes against children committed by people other than their relatives, reported in the journal Sexual Abuse, found "no increased rate on or just before Halloween." The researchers concluded that "these findings raise questions about the wisdom of diverting law enforcement resources to attend to a problem that does not appear to exist."

From the beginning, it was difficult for Bellucci to convince people that sex offenders were a group worth fighting for. But one way to make them more sympathetic was to show the impact that laws aimed at them had on their families.

Bellucci tells me about a young father on the registry who was not allowed to see his sick baby in the hospital. "This infant possibly was going to die within 24 hours," she says, "and they were going to have this big meeting at the hospital to come up with some plans for how they were going to treat the little boy. And they're like, 'You can't come to the meeting, because the meeting is going to be held at the hospital.'" After some legal maneuvering, Bellucci managed to get the meeting moved so the father could participate.

'This Is a Labor of Love'

Small victories like that one motivate Bellucci to work 50 to 60 hours a week. "The alliance pays me a whopping $1,000 a month," she says. "So this is a labor of love."

In 2016, Bellucci moved from Los Angeles to Sacramento to be close to the state capitol. "For a very long period of time, they kept passing new sex offender laws," she says. "And guess what? Nobody was there to oppose them. But about six years ago, we started showing up for hearings, and we're saying, 'No, this is unconstitutional, and these are the seven reasons why.'"

The Halloween lawsuit was only the beginning of Bellucci's fight. She began going after California's so-called proximity restrictions, local ordinances that prevented sex offenders from doing ordinary things like visiting dog parks or picking up their kids from school. Those rules "really had this chilling effect," Bellucci says, "because the restrictions were different from one city to another, and they were never posted. It might be OK to go to a dog park in one city, but it's not OK in another city, and there were no signs to tell you."

The crazy quilt of restrictions made people worry about "missing Thanksgiving dinner with Aunt Sally," Bellucci says. "They were afraid to travel from one city to the next. People felt like rats getting tested. No matter what you did, you were going to get an electric shock. So many people just stay in the same place and shiver and hope nobody will zap them with electricity."

Bellucci says lawsuits are a last resort. Her organization usually writes letters first, telling a city its sex offender law is unconstitutional or warning that another city has been successfully sued over the same kind of law. Sometimes the letters work. But when they don't, Bellucci sues. When she wins a lawsuit, she uses her share of the damages to fund other cases.

Like Rozek, Bellucci wants the registry to be based on science and reason. But that's hard to accomplish, she says, because when people "hear the term sex offenders, they just panic. They're thinking of the worst sexual assault that you can ever think of." It is therefore difficult for them "to absorb new information or to analyze the information that's in their brain."

To combat that emotional response, Bellucci assures people that "we believe all children should be safe. We're not here to unleash a bunch of sexual predators on the public." Her message, she says, is that "the registry gives people a false sense of security," because "they're looking in the wrong direction," given that "more than 90 percent of the perpetrators are not on the registry."

'I Know I'm Not the Only One'

Bellucci is admired by other reformers because she didn't join the movement to defend her brother or father or child; she did it because she saw an injustice. "The fact that she doesn't have what we call 'skin in the game' [makes her] more amazing," says Vicki Henry, president of Women Against the Registry (WAR). In contrast, Henry, 71, became an activist because her son is on the registry for downloading and distributing child pornography. He was in the Marines when he was caught in 2007. A military psychologist tied his use of child pornography to sexual abuse by his father.

"I thought I was losing my mind," Henry says. "When I got my feet back under me a little bit, [I thought] there's got to be other people that have gone through this. I know I'm not the only one."

Henry found Daily Strength, an online support group that hosted a subgroup called Families of Registrants, and then found NARSOL. She joined Women Against the Registry, which was a part of NARSOL at the time, and became its president in 2011. Around that time, WAR broke off —it wanted to do more protesting than NARSOL was comfortable with. Now Henry says she volunteers about 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

"I was pretty much raised in church," says Henry, a Southern Baptist. "My kids were raised in church. We were taught to help other people."

Henry describes WAR as more aggressive than NARSOL. "We're more challenging, in your face, the ground pounders," she says. "We protest. They don't."

WAR's slogan is "fighting the destruction of families," and Henry is speaking from firsthand experience. Like many on the registry, Henry's son faces harassment and employment problems. Recently his girlfriend's mother found out he was on the registry and called his employer. The next day, while he was filling out paperwork in the office, he overheard one of his bosses talking vividly about shooting him in the head with a 9 mm pistol. When Henry's son confronted him, the supervisor said he was just joking. After he filed a complaint with the human resources department, Henry says, he was suspended for three days because of a minor mistake he had made on the job.

Soon after that incident, Henry's son had to move out of the home he shared with his girlfriend and his children because of a restraining order that her ex-boyfriend obtained against him. Distraught, he moved back into his mother's house, where he was caught with child pornography again and rearrested.

"He feels guilty," Henry says. "He feels like I'm giving up my life because of him. And it's like, 'No, no, no, you have to understand. You were abused. I didn't know that. You were sick.'"

'Let Them Live in Peace'

Henry spends much of her time talking to lawmakers, describing the deleterious effects that registration has on families. In 2019, Henry traveled to Jefferson City, Missouri, accompanied by a registrant and WAR member named Sarah, to speak to legislators. Henry coached Sarah to be as open as possible about the registry's impact on her family.

Together, Sarah and Henry went to Missouri state representative Tony Luetkemeyer's office. After chatting for a few minutes, Henry told Sarah to pull up her pant leg, revealing her GPS ankle monitor. "She said, 'I've worn this for 10 years,'" Henry recalls. "'I have a family. I have a 5-year-old son and [an older] son. And I'm not able to go swimming with them. I'm not able to get in the boat with [them].' And he just sat and stared at her, like, 'Oh, my gosh.'" At the time, the Missouri legislature was considering a bill that would have prohibited some sex offenders from "being near athletic facilities used primarily by children." As a result of that encounter, Henry says, "the bill was killed."

Registries are all about ostracism, Henry argues, and GPS monitors are a prime example. "We're not saying that people shouldn't be adjudicated," she says. "But once they've been adjudicated [and] paid their debt to society, let them live in peace with their families. Don't put so many barriers in front of them."

Henry is not the only registry reformer who joined the movement because her son was caught with child pornography. Rita, who did not want her last name to be used, had a similar experience. Eleven years ago, Rita was having dinner with her husband and 26-year-old son, who was acting strangely. "I knew there was something wrong," she says. "I just kept asking him and asking him, and then he finally said it."

Rita's son told her that a few weeks before, around 1 a.m., he had heard banging on his apartment door. When he opened the door, he was face to face with multiple FBI agents. "He didn't know what they were looking for," Rita says. They were serving a search warrant based on evidence that he had downloaded child pornography on a peer-to-peer network.

As he told his mother this story, "he was shaking," she says. "I almost passed out….I couldn't believe that you could go to prison for what you look at." She and her husband sat there stunned. Their son said he had seen a lawyer, and he was facing time in federal prison. He ended up serving a little more than six years.

"It was just extremely difficult to get through those days," Rita says. "I knew in my heart I had two choices: Do I lie down and die, or do I do something? And in my mind, something was better than nothing. We decided we would get involved, just to try and bring some reason to these laws."

Rita's husband searched online and discovered the organization that eventually became NARSOL. In 2009, they traveled from the small New York town where they live to Boston for their first meeting. "It was life-changing for me to meet other people who understood the overwhelming shame and punishment that we were looking at," Rita says. "And those people are still my dearest friends."

A few years later, Rita founded Caution Click, an organization that focuses on the legal treatment of people arrested for viewing child pornography. She strives to raise awareness among teenagers and their families so they don't become sex offenders by sexting or looking at something they're not supposed to.

'I'd Still Have a Normal Life'

Another Caution Click member is the mother of Alyssa, a 26-year-old woman who is on the registry for having what she says was consensual sex with a 15-year-old boy when she was 19. At the time, Alyssa, who did not want her last name to be used, was a teenaged mother attending high school in a small town in New York. After a few encounters with the boy, she broke off the relationship and blocked him on social media.

Soon afterward, the father of Alyssa's son sued for custody, citing her relationship with the 15-year-old as evidence that she was an unfit mother. Alyssa was convicted of misdemeanor sexual misconduct. She didn't have to serve jail time, but the conviction put her on the registry for life.

"I have a lot of remorse for what I did," Alyssa says. "I cry about it [and] think about it constantly. I wish I could take it back every single day, because maybe if this didn't happen, I'd still have a normal life."

Alyssa struggled to find work and a place to live. "I was diagnosed with severe depression," she says. "I have anxiety issues, major mood swings. One minute I'm happy, the next minute I'm crying, sometimes not knowing why I'm sad or upset." Sometimes she thinks about killing herself. "I'm literally in a category with people that really, really seriously abuse children, from babies and up," she says, even though "I legit couldn't hurt a fly."

In 2019, Alyssa managed to find a good full-time job in Pennsylvania and a home in a trailer park. She planted flowers in her yard. "I made a whole garden," she says. "That took a lot of money and a lot of effort and sweat, and it came out so beautiful. I'd wake up and go out on my porch, and I'd just sit there and look at my flowers and breathe in the fresh air. [It was] like being in Pennsylvania, it was a different kind of air. It wasn't toxic. It wasn't filled with anything negative."

The idyll did not last. One day, another resident of the trailer park called the property manager to complain that a sex offender was living there. Alyssa was given three days to leave. "I sat in the car, and I was punching the heck out of my steering wheel, and I was screaming," she says. "[You're] doing something good with your life finally, and then you get ripped away from it. So I completely had a mental breakdown." She packed clothing in garbage bags and took her kids back to New York to live with her mom.

Alyssa hasn't been able to find a job in New York, and she can't move out of her parents' house because, as a sex offender, she does not qualify for low-income housing. She isn't even legally allowed to take her children to the playground. "Sometimes I risk it," she says. "I bring [my son] to the park anyways. Listen, if you want to arrest me, that's fine, but just know I wasn't doing anything. I wasn't looking at nobody. I wasn't touching nobody. I'm just trying to let my kids live their lives."

What Would Jesus Do?

Of all the reform organizations, ACSOL probably has had the most legislative impact. Through lawsuits and warning letters, Bellucci and her volunteers have managed to eliminate nearly all of California's local ordinances making certain places, such as parks and schools, off-limits to sex offenders. They have also filed 31 lawsuits challenging local ordinances that limit where offenders can live. Nearly all of them have been successful.

Bellucci's biggest accomplishment so far is helping to create a tiered registry system in California, scheduled to be implemented in 2021. Instead of treating all sex offenders, regardless of their crimes, as equally dangerous, the tiered registry will divide them into three risk categories. It also will do away with lifetime registration for most offenders.

NARSOL, Rozek's group, has filed successful lawsuits against sex offender restrictions in Maryland and North Carolina. It recently won a victory in Butts County, Georgia, where it sued Sheriff Gary Long for requiring sex offenders to place warning signs in their front yards during Halloween. "Warning!" the signs said. "No Trick or Treat at This Address." Last October, a federal judge ruled that Long's signs were unconstitutional, based on the same First Amendment argument that Bellucci had deployed in Simi Valley. NARSOL also filed an amicus brief in Packingham v. North Carolina, the 2017 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a state law barring sex offenders from social media.

WAR and Caution Click have fewer legislative goals and focus more on education, so their accomplishments are harder to quantify. But all of the organizations are trying to change the way we talk about sex offenses. When you speak to enough reformers, you notice how they've subtly changed the language used in such conversations: Sex offender registry is shortened to the registrychild pornography becomes illicit images or C.P.; sex offenders are registrants. Reformers want people to recognize that individuals on the registry encompass a wide range of offenses, many of which are nonviolent.

Activists argue that changing the language around the registry can reduce the stigma associated with it, one of its greatest harms. Sandralea, a WAR member in Florida who did not want her last name to be used, says her adult son was put on the registry after he was convicted of exposing himself to a 2-year-old—a charge she says was false. The church she'd raised him in, where she had been a member for 23 years, didn't want him to come back until the pastor had ministered to him and said that it was OK for him to attend again.

"As a Christian, I find Christians are the worst," says Sandralea. "I feel like [members of] the Christian community who sit there and profess to be of Christ are the most unforgiving people I've ever seen in my life." She changed churches and started a Facebook newsletter ministry for sex offenders. "I want them to see that they are valued by the Lord," she says.

I ask Sandralea how she thinks Jesus Christ would have reacted to sex offender laws. "I think that he would find them horrendous, because it's unforgiving," she says. "He went and sat with the sinners. He cleaned the lepers. Hello! Sex offenders are the lepers of society today. Jesus would have never treated them the way the Christian community does."

Bellucci, who is a nondenominational Christian, likewise has found that Christians do not necessarily follow Christ's example. "I'm really careful who I tell [at] church," she says. "Some people find out what I do, and they just make sure they don't sit anywhere near me. They don't want to talk to me. And you know, at my age, I just let that roll off my back."

When it comes to family members, Bellucci says, "it's a little harder." When she first told her older daughter about her plans for ACSOL, she says, "the first thing out of her mouth was, 'How could you?' I just explained it as gently and lovingly as I could: 'This is what I'm doing. I'm not asking your permission. So it's up to you. You either accept it or you don't accept it.' Over the years—and now it's been eight years—she's starting to understand better."

Henry also sometimes worries about discussing her advocacy. "I put a huge target on my back for being the person I am," she says. "One guy told me online he would kill me and sodomize my corpse."

At a recent high school reunion that Henry attended with trepidation, a classmate asked her what she does. "I said, 'Some of you may not like it, but here's what I do: My son is on the registry. I advocate for the families.' I thought, 'Hey, if you like me after that, it's fine. If you don't, I'm not running for homecoming queen or Ms. Senior America. I don't care.'" The woman who'd asked Henry the question walked over to her and gave her a hug. "You know," she said, "those people need that."

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  1. First! That’s my deepest thought at the moment…

      1. A moment is a short period of time

        1. Does that mean that a momentum is an even smaller unit of time? Hod does does it relate to metric time, milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, picoseconds, etc?

          PS, what is a picoboo?




          One billionth of a “boo”!

    1. I am making 10,000 Dollar at home own laptop .Just do work online 4 to 6 hour proparly . so i make my family happy and u can do

      …….. Read More

  2. OK, then there’s this (out-take from above):

    “Like Rozek, Bellucci wants the registry to be based on science and reason. But that’s hard to accomplish, she says, because when people “hear the term sex offenders, they just panic. They’re thinking of the worst sexual assault that you can ever think of.” ”

    Well yeah… I’d like to see some science and reason around this! Like, super-conservative “R”-type people often want to conflate being gay (lez, tranny, cross-dressers, etc.) with being more likely to be child molesters. IS there ANY honest or peer-reviewed science that says that? Seems to me, I read WAAAAAY the hell too much about straight child molesters all the time…

    Then ANOTHER case where it seems to me, the laws are all about fear and emotions, and not based on science or reason… Child porn! OK, yuck, ug, I agree! But… I recall reading of a sharp turning-point (1960s or so?) in adult porn suddenly going from illegal to legal in some Scandinavian nation(s), and the rates of rape, there, took a nose-dive, at that time. For adult porn, the ready availability of porn seems to cut rapes of rape. …. So then child porn; OK, the making of it (with real child “actors”; ugh!) is what makes it illegal, and I agree with this. Yet ART (drawings) without involving real kids has, in some case, been enough to convict the makers and-or viewers of this stuff! Where is the SCIENCE to point one way or another… This is HIGHLY relevant in the age of good, ever-cheaper CGI (Computer Generated Graphics)… Where is the SCIENCE to show, would kiddie-porn addicts be more or less likely to offend in the real world, if they had CGI stuff to feed their sick fantasies?

    Too much fear, loathing, and self-righteousness and too little science, MeThinks… (Also too little proportionality in the justice system, of course… Prosecutors think “the more punishment, the more justice”, period, end of story!)

    Anyone have links to science on the 2 above issues? I’ve not seen it…

    1. Did you miss the stats on recidivism? Apparently some science exists, but is not widely known.

  3. The fact that Sexual registries are still around just goes to show that Nanny and Police Staters only care about the Constitution to use its power not its protections or limitations on government.

    There is no enumerated power to force Americans to register. So the laws should be struck down right there.

    Ex post facto prohibition. Many of these people were told they must register years after they committed a crime, so the laws should be struck down for violation of the ex post facto clause.

    There is no enumerated power to restrict where people live or work or spend their time in public parks.

    Finally, if the last hope for this law is punishment for a crime. Then call registration a criminal punishment and punishments are assessed based on the seriousness of the crime. They cannot be ex post facto punishments and they cannot be cruel AND unusual punishments. Punishments are served under the eye of the state and then the state loses jurisdiction over you. Endless sex registries for misdemeanors dont fit since these crimes are limit to less than 1 year in jail.

    The final note on Sexual registries is that they are clearly being used to control people with ‘sex crimes” for the rest of their lives rather than keep them locked up if their crimes are that serious.

    Harassing ex-cons on Halloween because they are on a sex registry is unacceptable. Locking people up because they dont register is unacceptable.

    Another bad law that needs to be stricken from the books.

    1. Serious question – How do you jive enumerated powers with the 10A? To me the enumerated powers argument applies solely to the federal government, not to the states. I agree that these laws are an abomination, I just don’t think enumerated powers is an argument against legislation at the state level.

      1. The 14th Amendment applies the Bill of Rights to the states and the governmental limits that go with them, via the Supremacy Clause.

        That said, the Supreme Court has granted a degree of latitude for state and local government in policing, and the Court issued a ruling last summer holding up the constitutionality of sex offender registries.

        https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/20/politics/read-ruling-gundy-v-united-states/index.html

        1. And the SCOTUS is 100% wrong on multiple occasions for multiple reasons.

          The ex post facto argument is a no brainer.

          For those sentenced in the last 20 years, the government wanting to end run the 4A, 5A, 6A, and 8A should give a judiciary plenty of evidence that the state is trying to usurp the Constitution and strike those laws down.

          1. Herman Grundy = Dred Scott

          2. Also, this was 4-4, RBG gang against Gundy , and Kav not involved.

    2. “Ex post facto prohibition. Many of these people were told they must register years after they committed a crime, so the laws should be struck down for violation of the ex post facto clause.”

      What’s worse than ex post facto punishment? How about guilt inherited across generations based on racial or ethnic characterization? Or the dawning prosecution of pre-crime?

      1. Ex post facto requirements to register should be challenged in court, because ex post facto laws and punishments are specifically prohibited in the Constitution. But I also don’t know what the full details of a sex offense conviction and sentence entail and perhaps there’s a mechanism in sentencing for many sex offenders that opens the door down the road to registration. Figuring that out would require a deeper dive into the legal minutiae of individual cases and sentences.

        1. “Ex post facto” went out the door with the Lautenberg Amendment, which prohibited people who had previous misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from possessing firearms. (Unless they were cops.) That law established the legal fiction that such restrictions are not “punishment.”

        2. Ex post facto requirements to register should be challenged in court, because ex post facto laws and punishments are specifically prohibited in the Constitution.

          The Smith v. Doe case referenced in the article was an ex post facto challenge to retroactive registration requirements. The Supreme Court held that a registration requirement wasn’t a criminal punishment, and thus could be applied retroactively.

          1. It’ll be nigh impossible to overturn federally unless “rational basis” jurisprudence is taken more seriously, and the judges don’t want to do that, because they think deciding the rationality of legislation is up to legislators, who are elected by the voters, rather than themselves, who are unelected and can be accused of usurping legislative authority.

        3. It’s not considered an ex post facto law, because it doesn’t make illegal something the person did in the past. It’s considered a regulation going forward on a class of persons. That is, you are a person who, right now, satisfies the criterion of having been convicted of this thing some time in the past. And it doesn’t require you to have done something in the past, it requires you to do something now.

  4. Public urination? My entire graduating class would be on the registry.

    1. I think you mean “should”, hmmmmmmm?

    2. My friend was arrested for urinating behind a dumpster in an alley. He was sent to the drunk dank for a night but threatened with getting placed on a sex offender registration. Cops had better things to do and he was let go the next morning.

      When I think of sex offenders I think of rapists and paedophiles not some dude pissing in an alley.

      1. Cops had better things to do

        Somebody somewhere selling loosies.

  5. This registry bullshit is a lot like Civil Asset Forfeiture and the WOD. All are blatantly unconstitutional but SCOTUS always manages to give this crap it’s stamp of approval because for the children. The damage done is incalculable.

  6. most offenders’ likelihood of committing another sexual offense over a five-year period was around 7 percent.

    Serious question: What’s magic/legal about “five-year”?

    1. In the Soviet Union, they had 5-year plans!

      It’s the number of digits on your hand. When fish first made it up onto the land, it used to be 8 digits, not 5. It’s a shame that evolution dropped 3 of them. “8” would fit into the binary (computer) world SOOO much better than “5”! BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) is a WASTE of computer power!

      So yes, 8-year plans not 5-year plans? (Or 16 or 32…) Sign me on!

      1. Well, … OK. Just as long as the recidivism rate isn’t *70* percent over a *six*-year period!

    2. Probably how easy it is to find the data. But now that registries have been around a while, it’ll become easier! Silver lining, huh?

  7. “Alyssa, a 26-year-old woman who is on the registry for having what she says was consensual sex with a 15-year-old boy when she was 19. At the time, Alyssa, who did not want her last name to be used, was a teenaged mother attending high school in a small town in New York. After a few encounters with the boy, she broke off the relationship and blocked him on social media.

    Soon afterward, the father of Alyssa’s son sued for custody, citing her relationship with the 15-year-old as evidence that she was an unfit mother. Alyssa was convicted of misdemeanor sexual misconduct. She didn’t have to serve jail time, but the conviction put her on the registry for life.”
    This is where we’ve really crossed over into bizzarro world. Unless 15 year old boys have changed a lot since I was one my guess is that the term consensual is an understatement in this case. Yeah I know that feminists and ambitious prosecutors have determined that this kid was a victim and no doubt damaged for life but I’m not buying it. And this woman, all of 19 at the time, wears a scarlet A for the rest of her life? The shit is medieval.

    1. We live in a feudal system. Only the costumes have changed.

    2. Yes, medieval is a great term for this repressive fucked up view of sexuality. There’s this societal view that sexual offenses involving anybody underage is the epitome of evil, worse than being a serial killer or mass murder. And any victim is seen as a “survivor” and damaged for life.” It’s irrational hysteria fueled by base emotions. It’s used to justify the worst punishment imaginable and often the conviction of people on little or no real evidence. Sure, I find any abuse of little children to be extremely repulsive and I find any physical or sexual abuse of an adult similarly repulsive BUT I’m rational about it. Most sexual offenses are not nearly as heinous as many violent crimes. Moreover, many sex offenders (if not most) may be mentally ill with poor impulse control but not necessarily sinister or evil. And many offenses are not necessarily that damaging to victims, often very immoral but not necessarily causing serious harm. The hysterical view that they do causes as much or more harm than some sex abuse itself. But we can’t have this rational perspective in today’s sexually repressive society where sex offenders are all “demons” who deserve to burn in hell.

      1. Nothing youwrote says “rational” to me. All of it says “perverted male who thinks others must be as perverted as I am.” Maybe others aren’t disgusting like you are? Maybe you shouldn’t view child sexuality as normal? Gross.

        1. WTF is wrong with you?

          You apparently missed the sentence “I find any abuse of little children to be extremely repulsive….”

          Your hysterical, sexist and insane attack is exhibit A why we can’t have a rational discussion about this topic.

        2. Maybe you shouldn’t view child sexuality as normal? Gross.

          Child sexuality IS normal. There are sound practical reasons for restricting children’s sexual behavior, especially with adults, but pretending that children do not have sexual feelings is a harmful fantasy.

          1. Children do not have sexual feelings prior to puberty. That is a myth perpetrated by pedophiles like Alfred Kinsey.

            1. You obviously are suffering from amnesia about your own childhood. Since this is often a symptom of severe childhood trauma, I will offer you my sympathy.

              1. You think a typical 7-year-old knows what sex is or has those feelings?

      2. Perhaps in the interest of eliminating sexual repression, you might allow yourself to be anally sodomized by a dozen hardened criminals (with no condom) in order to demonstrate the lack of serious harm therein.

        1. Perhaps in the interest of fairness, we should incarcerate you for child sexual abuse for all your underage masturbation and then you can also be sodomized by a dozen hardened criminals. That would really demonstrate the horrors of human sexuality.

          1. Don’t give them ideas.

      3. The problem is that some 19 yr old guy who has sex with a 17 yr old girl is lumped in with a 45 yr old guy who fucked a 7 yr old. Not the same at all.

        1. Exaaactly . . .

    3. Switch the genders of your story there. Now, how would you feel about it? If the answer is different, then there’s a problem. People like to excuse it when teenage boys are abused, but that teenage boy is statistically the most likely to become an abuser in the future now.

  8. The crimes that will land someone on the list vary by state, but they include not just assaultive crimes such as rape and child molestation but also nonpredatory offenses such as public urination, promotion of prostitution, and possession of child pornography.

    What should be our priority to reform: the lists, or the nonpredatory offenses?

    1. What should be our priority to reform: the lists, or the nonpredatory offenses?
      Both of the above?

      The really stupid part of the whole argument is that if you really want to protect children from “predators,” then get all of the streaking/consensual sex/public urination/decades old offenses off the list. If the db population was a couple of orders of magnitude smaller, law enforcement could concentrate on monitoring any real danger.

      I remember a story about a 98-year-old “predator,” in dementia and bed-ridden, who had to be moved to a different nursing facility because the city built a bus stop out on the street.

  9. It is so wrong, so unjust, but reform will be very difficult to accomplish. Common sense is really not that common.

    1. Sad but true! Politicians milk our fears. Without bogeymen, about 80% of Government Almighty powers would need to fade away. A world without made-up bogeymen scares the hell out of politicians!

    2. Yes, this is one of the downsides of democracy.

  10. I would probably be okay with eliminating sex offender registration if they would either treat sexual assault convictions (especially against minors) with the death penalty or with physical castration. Otherwise, these people defending them deserve to be on the a registry too…

    1. Is this sarcasm? I hope so.

      1. NO, not at all. I am seeing from this website why most libertarians are make. Everyone here wants to sleep with underage girls, so supports sex offenders, and likes to smoke pit, so supports legalizing marijuana. Rarely do I see any insight into the fact that underage girs who are curious about sexuality are not the same as twenty year old school who want sex. If a man is twenty sleeping with a fourteen with a fourteen yer old , I absolutely support him being castrated.

    2. Okay, create a new troll account for this person.

      Libertarians would not support capital offenses for non murder offenses. Second, registries are not a power the government remotely possesses in the US or any state constitution. Third, Age of majority is a thing but getting all puritanical about 18 or 21 years of age makes you a lunatic.

      There are clear biological factors at play here that do not always fit a neat legal standard. Libertarians are for rule of law and tiny and limited govenrmemt but it cannot be a tyranny.

      Castrating a 19 year old TEENAGER for having sex with a 17 year old former TEENAGE classmate is insane. Its wha we call cruel and unusual punishment in the biz.

      1. You’re being too nice. Involuntarily castrating anyone for any reason is insane. Imprisonment is a harsh enough punishment for any crime.

    3. Chemlady,
      I would be ok if you learned how TO SPELL! I am not sure if you are mentally incompetent, or just plain ignorant. I did not get any vibe what so ever, that any male on here was ok with having unlimited sex with children. Please for the love of GOD USE YOUR BRAIN! These women are saints! You have no clue obviously from your second grade education responses, to what a true sex offender is. For your information, my neighbor, whom is FEMALE, was 18 when she dated her freshman boyfriend. She was a senior. THEY DID NOT HAVE SEX, they had a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Sadly, when she broke up, the revenge came. So MS. CHEMLADY, please explain to me, why she should be a registered sex offender? She did this act in 1987! Yes, can you count that far back! 33 years being a registrant, never in trouble since then, this was a consensual relationship, again NO SEX! WHY are we wasting our time with individuals like this! People like you, are what make this country pathetic. This article is about promoting sensible sex laws! I cannot believe you would say something so IGNORANT to kill an 18 year old for having a typical high school romance! Get a grip and again, learn how to spell!! Debbie M.

  11. We had a streaker in Austin in the 80s who looked a LOT like the doughboy who got nekkid at the Libertarian convention. One could tell at a glance why the ladies cross the street to avoid these pathetic specimens. Putting them on the data equivalent of a ducking stool does seem a lot like adding injury to insult.

  12. “I would probably be okay with eliminating sex offender registration if they would either treat sexual assault convictions (especially against minors) with the death penalty or with physical castration. Otherwise, these people defending them deserve to be on the a registry too…”

    No doubt the chimpanzee groups in the forest along with police and prosecutors would support your literally prehistoric revenge based version of punishment over justice, but among the non-animal and non police state members of society we can see very real problem with your solution even minus the part I hope is hyperbole.

    Many of those on the sexual registry are not there for actually assaulting a child. Many are there for looking at porn of those under 18 whether by mistake or not, sexting, public urination, or increasingly as a way for sleazy prosecutors to force the accused to plead guilty to entirely unrelated crimes such as adult prostitution and at least one drug charge in Colorado. In a system that rewards sociopath prosecutors for winning at any cost the sex registry has increasingly become one more cudgul used by sleazy unethical prosecutors (but I repeat myself) to force plea deals.

    Often those who commit this crime as adults against actual minors are men between the age of 19 and 25 having consensual sex with a women between the age of 16 and 18. Still wrong and something I would not recommend on moral grounds, but worthy of a lifetime of unforgivable stigma? I believe everyone deserves a second chance, but I also understand I am part of a shrinking minority that feels that way.

    There are currently 89,000 children on the sex offender list. Because their location is now public and society has identified them as of no value, actual predators target them as easy targets for sexual exploitation.

    https://theappeal.org/tag/sex-offender-registry/

    Most of the sexual predators who have sex with girls 14 and under are in positions of authority such as the police who regularly prey on vulnerable girls, but even when prosecuted have their charges reduced by prosecutors and judges to ensure they do not end up on the registry. They will continue to get a free pass to rape children regardless of what laws are passed for everyone else.

    It seems almost quaint to say this, but it’s also unconstitutional. I know, we stopped even raising that issue back at the dawn of the drug war in the early 80’s, but it’s true non the less. Even if Americans no longer care about the Constitution, historians will one day notice.

    Here’s the real kicker. By using the sex registry to isolate, destabilize and marginalize those placed on the list, you actually increase the odds of recidivism the way the criminal system always does for all crimes. I understand if you’re a cop or a prosecutor it’s part of your job to promote criminal behavior before you can arrest people for breaking those laws, but a more sane public should discourage this.

    Finally, there are many families that discover a family members has sexually assaulted a child who simple choose not to report it in an environment were the punishment is so draconian. I know I would be horrified if a found out a family members had assault my child, but I doubt destroying their life by adding them to the registry would help anyone, especially the actual victim.

    1. There’s no such thing as consensual sex with a minor.

      1. The age of consent was 14 in some places now its 18 or 21 in some places.

        Know your history dum-dum.

        1. So in reading my post, that “there’s no such thing as consensual sex with a minor” is all you got out of it?

          I guess we can add obtuse and overly legalistic to factually wrong.

          In most States the legal age of marriage is lower than 18, meaning with marriage sex with a minor is legal.

          From a Purely logical standpoint, the idea that someone is a child until 17 years and 364 days, then magically blossoms into a full grown women a day later is so stupid and overly legalistic that only a sleazy police officer or prosecutor willing to do anything to fill prisons would believe it.

          Try harder.

      2. As loveconstitution1789 points out, the definition of a “minor” is very arbitrary and variable. Historically, I believe it only applied to those who were 12 or younger. Perhaps that was because life was brutally short and child bearing often began when it was biologically possible. Your extreme viewpoints would make basically all of the product of child molesters. I don’t advocate going back to those definitions but it’s important to understand normal human sexuality and history before demonizing all of humanity. Modern life and our modern understanding of cognitive maturity argues for the later age – but if we were to follow recent neuroscience, we would outlaw sex before the age of 25 when cognitive development is basically finished. And we would imprison all those sexually active high schoolers who follow their biological instincts. I would argue for the more humanistic approach without such barbarity. But I guess that makes me a “pervert” in your twisted view.

      3. Of course there is. The age of consent is under 18 in most states. The most common ages are 16 and 17. Many states also allow consensual sex at much younger ages if both parties are close in age (known as Romeo and Juliet laws).

        The bizarre thing is that while it is perfectly legal to have sex with minors under these laws, it is felony child porn to take (or distribute or possess) photos of these minors it is legal to have sex with. Minors have even been arrested for taking nude photos of themselves. And, of course, such arrests and convictions could put them the sex-offender registry for life.

  13. Most people in the USA have so many sexual hangups that of course they won’t view sex offenders rationally. Add in low IQ for probably more than half of those low IQ people and you hear them shriek “Think of the Children!!!!” all day and all night. I applaud these women for trying to fix a broken system, but humanity is what is broken and won’t be fixed into more modification of DNA before birth.

    1. Roughly 40% of U.S. children are born out of wedlock; where’s the sexual hangups?

  14. I am apparently not a libertarian. I cannot support child molestation as you all clearly do. Perhaps you should all consider that 50% of the population are female-we do not consider it a compliment to be sexually predated. You guys are gross.

    1. You’re not a Libertarian and you are too puritanical to make rational arguments for your puritanical position. I look forward to acquitting more and more “sex offenders” as they are forced to have jury trials.

    2. Yes, you are not a libertarian.

      Puritan, totalitarian, sociopath, etc, all come to mind as more appropriate labels.

    3. Who said they supported child molestation?? You are definitely not a Libertarian because you can’t think rationally about the subject, but would rather use your emotions. Here’s a logical argument that may resonate with you though if you’re willing to listen: Today, they violate many constitutional protections and norms for sex-offenders and nobody bats an eye because “they deserve it” right? Well, what happens when they start violating those same protections for other citizens? For example: What if they passed a law that anyone who gets a speeding ticket loses their license for ten years? They write in the law that it can be applied retroactively because it’s regulatory and it prevents speeders from killing people in accidents. Then, you and/or many you know are visited by the police to take your license. You get upset and ask why. They say because you got a speeding ticket 10 or 20 years ago and the law is applied retroactively. You then try to appeal. The court’s defense uses case law from the sex offender registry where this was allowed and you lose the case. I hope this analogy puts things in perspective on how Libertarians view this.

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  16. I think men are somewhat hesitant to weigh in on something that’s about sexual violence, because it could be viewed as like, ‘Oh, you’re defending men who hurt women.’

    No, it’s because defending a child abuser makes many think you are doing it because you, too, are a child molester. Women won’t be seen that way.

    1. Women won’t be seen that way.

      Even though women commit plenty of child abuse.

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  18. There are plenty of men fighting the registry too, but that tends to get ignored.

    Part of the problem is that if a person who is actually on the registry is in the news to discuss this issue, we are labeled “sex offender” as if it is our names or job titles.

    Changing the laws must begin with changing perceptions. I refuse to allow the media label me by an action taken over half my life ago.

    1. The labeling puts all these people in the same basket. Only a fraction deserve long term surveillance or parole, I.e. only violent or abusers of the pre-pubescent.

  19. This is an article everyone needs to read, and then seriously think about; the only flaw is the near-total omission of a subgroup within registrant ranks: those of us who were falsely accused but still convicted. I am a member of this subgroup.
    From the perspective of 20+ years on my state’s registry, I can easily say, “If I knew then what I know now. . . .”
    At the time starting with my arrest to conviction, I was in shock, later medically verified to be PTSD. I was accused of fondling preteens. My defense looked to be very solid, with alibi witnesses, expert witnesses, and a verified paper trail. Then the prosecution amended the charges, a too-typical move many prosecutors have used to rack up victories; this move led my lawyer at the time to urge me to make a plea bargain, as going to trial, my lawyer said, “You’ll be found guilty no matter what evidence you have and no matter what your witnesses have to say.”
    Serious flaws with the prosecution’s case emerged within a year of my conviction–too late to be of any help, as the time to file an appeal had long passed. Within the last year, one of my accusers openly recanted his accusation–but in a way that cannot and will not be of any help to me.
    I am not alone.
    Bill Bastuk in New York, was falsely accused but very luckily had the charges dropped just before trial. He has started the group It Could Happen to You, which focuses on prosecutor misconduct.
    Jeffrey Deskovic, also in New York, created the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation and has partnered with Bill Bastuk to fight false accusations and wrongful convictions.
    Some years ago a middle school gym teacher in a New England state was falsely accused of molesting a student. The student’s lies were revealed when the girl admitted to a friend–on Facebook–she was tired of the gym teacher getting “on her case”.
    I have just barely scratched the surface.
    If any of you, dear readers, have ever been falsely accused of anything, multiply the impact of the lies and their impacts a few thousand times, and you will begin, just begin, to understand what happens to persons falsely accused of sexual abuse.
    Reforms of $ex offender laws are decades overdue, as I have repeatedly learned–as have thousands of others. At last count, the number of registrants nationwide has topped 900,000 (and more than a few stay on the registry even after they have died!), but sex abuse continues; overwhelmingly, the number of attacks are committed by persons NOT on any registry.
    Instead of rushing to judgment, lumping all registrants into a “one size fits all” system of perpetual punishment, how about looking into the growing, peer-reviewed research about registrants, proof that shatters the still-prevalent myths?
    I dare you to do this. Are there any takers? Or will there just be the sounds of crickets?

    1. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I myself was threatened with being placed on the sex offender list to force a plea on me for a charge entirely unrelated to sex with a minor, or sex at all.

      You no doubt will run into people like Chemlady above who are so intent on severe punishment that they are not overly interested either in science, or even whether the person is guilty as long as they have the opportunity to inflict cruel punishment on another human being, but they are the exception. I think as more people learn about how this list is both misused and has the opposite outcome those who support it claim they want, things will change.

      It will change because of what gratuitous cruelty says about us as a society:

      “Tyranny is a habit; it is able to, and does develop finally into a disease. I submit that habit may coarsen and stupefy the very best of men to the level of brutes. Blood and power make a man drunk: callous coarseness and depravity develop in him; the most abnormal phenomena become accessible, and in the end pleasurable to the mind and the senses. The human being and the citizen perish forever in the tyrant, and a return to human dignity, to repentance, to regeneration becomes practically impossible for him. What is more, the example, the possibility of such intransigence have a contagious effect upon the whole of society: such power is a temptation. A society which can look upon such a phenomenon with indifference is already contaminated to its foundations. Put briefly, the right given to one man to administer corporal punishment to another is one of society’s running sores, one of the most effective means of destroying in it every attempt at, every embryo of civic consciousness, and a basic factor in its certain and inexorable dissolution.”

      — Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, The House of the Dead (1862) [translation by David McDuff, Penguin Books (1985)]

  20. Yeah, I’ve never been for those kinds of registries. Overkill. Punishments for crimes are supposed to be served for whatever amount of time the judge prescribes, and that’s it. Then they’ll have paid their debt. Adding a life sentence on top of it just isn’t right. It’s even more ludicrous if the crime is sex with a 15-year-old when you were 19.

    Also, why only sex crime registries? Why not also robbery registries? I’d be more interested to know whether a former convicted robber was living next to me than a pervert. Not that I’m suggesting robbers should be treated that way too.

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  23. “Bellucci initially tried to interest the American Civil Liberties Union of California in the issue. ‘They basically said [they couldn’t help] because they’re afraid that if they became known as sex offender attorneys, their funding would disappear, which I think is a very cowardly position,’ she says.”

    I am not a giant fan of the ACLU, but I don’t believe this position as articulated is indicative of the ALCU’s stance. I have recently worked on a case adjacent to the ACLU representing sex offenders that was deeply unpopular. I don’t know if Bellucci’s paraphrase is inaccurate, she ran into the wrong representative or just the particularly crappy ACLU of Southern California (which is exceptionally bad). The ACLU is a shadow of its former self, but this is not a topic they are afraid of.

  24. Many states have “Romeo/Juliet” law exceptions to statutory rape. The allowed difference in age for the exception is usually 3 or 4 years so that the irresponsible 17 or 18 yr old doesn’t get put permanently on a sex offenders list for having sex with his or her 15 year old boyfriend/girlfriend. I think that’s rational.

  25. The laws on “sex offender registration” are an effort to punish people for life when the crime in question does not deserve life imprisonment. Even now, photos that were completely legal just a few years ago carry a mandatory 15 year minimum term of imprisonment from federal court. The Pulitzer Prize winning photo of the young girl running naked from a napalm attack in Vietnam, today would not only be ineligible for the prize, but the photographer and newspaper operators and newspeople like Walter Cronkite would be in prison for decades. In most states, you would get a harsher sentence for possessing a “wrong” photo than for blinding someone for life. In my view, punishment should be proportionate to the crime (it usually is much harsher given the hysterical nature of the politics), and it should, at some point, end. No one benefits from a system where people, after completing sentences, cannot get jobs, and cannot find places to live. The sex offender registry accomplishes nothing, but does create a class of people who might as well commit new crimes since they cannot work or live as long as they are on the list.

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