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There Are Too Many Kids on the Sex Offender Registry

Both the boys admit they did it. Horsing around, two New Jersey 14-year-olds pulled down their pants and sat on the faces of two 12-year-old boys. As one of them later explained, "I thought it was funny and I was trying to get my friends to laugh."

For that act, he and his buddy are on the sex offender registry for life. This was, after all, "sexual contact done for sexual gratification or to degrade or humiliate the victim." The boys lost an appeal in 2011, with a three-judge panel writing that "although we are not unsympathetic to the arguments criticizing the application of the lifelong registration requirements…we are bound to uphold such application because that outcome is mandated by the Legislature."

This is what our sex offender laws have done: Today, your child is more likely to end up on the registry than to be molested by someone on it.

The rationale for the list is one we can all appreciate: preventing sexual assault. The reality, however, is that this supposed crime-fighting tool is not doing the job.

"Only a tiny fraction of sex crimes against children are committed by people who are on the registry," says George Mason University sociologist Roger Lancaster, author of 2011's Sex Panic and the Punitive State. At this point, 40–50 studies have come to the same conclusion, he says: About 5 percent of people on the list go on to commit another crime, a far lower recidivism rate than almost any other class of criminals, including drug dealers, arsonists, and muggers.

"Available research indicates that sex offenders, and particularly people who commit sex offenses as children, are among the least likely to reoffend," Human Rights Watch has found.

"Essentially, you've got this huge registry that's sitting there without having the desired effect," Lancaster says.But it's not just ineffective at protecting kids—it's filled with children itself.

What is the most common age at which people land on the registry? Most folks I put the question to think it's about 39. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, "The single age with the greatest number of offenders from the perspective of law enforcement was age 14."

The reason is obvious when you think about it: Young people have sex with other young people. This is often illegal.

Sexual contact is not even required in a lot of cases. In state after state, the age of consent is 16 or 17—but sexting before the age of 18 is often a crime and sometimes even a felony.

Kids can end up branded for life simply for playing doctor. My Dallas friend Josh Gravens was placed on the registry at 12 after he was found to have inappropriately touched his sister. He spent three and a half years in a Texas juvenile detention center, where his group therapy leader demanded that inmates admit to the additional rapes they'd committed. Some, like Josh, didn't have any other assaults to confess, but eventually, to satisfy the therapist, they would usually make something up. They'd then be forced to act their crimes out as part of the "treatment," Gravens says.

With most offenses, someone who has paid his debt to society is encouraged to integrate back into the world. Those on the sex offender list may find that challenging. Registrants can't live near a school, park, or playground. They must report to authorities anytime they get a new job, a new residence, or even a new hairstyle. They often must attend weekly therapy sessions. Sometimes they're forced to undergo polygraph tests or "penile plethysmographs," in which a gauge is attached to the penis to check for inappropriate arousal.

All these requirements are based on the "flawed but pervasive idea that those convicted of sex offenses became incurable and predatory monsters requiring—and deserving—lifetime punishment," writes Emily Horowitz, a professor of sociology at St. Francis College and author of two books on this subject.

What would happen if the registry were to disappear? All other criminal laws would remain in place, including increased penalties for repeat offenses. Only the list, and the dehumanization it wreaks, would be gone.

"If my child was victimized, I'd want to kill a person," Horowitz says. "But what if my child was a victimizer? I'd also want them to have a chance."

Me too.

Photo Credit: RichLegg/iStockPhoto

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  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Societies used to brand criminals with a hot iron, ostracizing them forever. This is the same thing, except we don't have the guts to hold the iron and smell the burning flesh.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    but sexting before the age of 18 is often a crime and sometimes even a felony.

    An ambitious federal prosecutor could prosecute this as child pornography, a federal felony.

  • Cyto||

    Much of this area of law is too twisted even for dystopian authors like Orwell and Huxley. Nobody would believe a drama where a 16 year old girl is prosecuted as an adult for producing child pornography - of herself. Yet this is the reality we live in.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Well, wrongthink DOES need to be punished. Severely.

  • JuanQPublic||

    It is absolutely incredible indeed, beyond most dystopian fiction.

    As well, nobody is asking some obvious questions, such as why legislators continue to sexualize minors and non-sexual behavior through implications in the law they write. That's essentially what they are doing, because, say, urinating in a public park isn't a sexual act in any reasonable discussion, but lawmakers seem to be projecting something when assuming that it is.

  • Robert||

    How many other countries does this go on in?

  • WC46||

    England, Australia for starters. New Zealand, I think....

  • 1980-f||

    Canada too.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The obvious solution is to lower the age of consent so much that these won't be kids any more. Moral dilemma solved!

    Well, except that business about smoking and drinking and buying a gun and voting and joining the military ... but one step at a time.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Maybe sex with adolescents shouldn't be a criminal penalty. A civil penalty is probably more appropriate. But that has about as much chance of happening as lowering the AoC.

    I fully expect AoC to go up in this country, before the end.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Ahh, perpertual adolescence. Starter drugs and fumbling sex, but no responsibility. Living the dream!

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    The age cut-off for what constitutes child pornography is defined in federal law as 18, and is not dependent in any way on state age-of-consent laws.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Imagine a world in which the federal government did not concern itself with petty matters of sexual conduct, and instead focused on governing well.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Even more ridiculous is what constitutes child pornography and who is allowed to possess it.

    Parents having nude pictures of their kids doing innocent normal child behaviors can be prosecuted for child pornography. This is evidenced by numerous criminal prosecutions for exactly that.

    No American is allowed to posses what the government arbitrarily defines as child porn, except that law enforcement retain images and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids has the largest non-government collection of child porn material in the World.

  • Cyto||

    We talk about moral panics and scaring parents... well, consider me officially scared from this one.

    I just spent a week chaperoning a group of 10 and 11 year old kids on a field trip. They were all-in on texting. They had a great time taking each other's phones and texting "funny" (to a 10 year old) things on each other's behalf. This was a fantastic group of kids. Elite, in fact. Very smart, very nice, very good kids.

    There is zero chance that group navigates the next 5 years without sending something with their smartphone that has the potential to land them in serious trouble. Not something that is really serious in and of itself, but something that would be a slam-dunk to land them on a sex offender registry if put into the wrong hands.

    I don't know why we decided to abandon the distinction between children and adults in our criminal justice system, but this is where we are. The only hope kids have is that they won't get caught. And most of them won't. Just as almost every kid smoked pot when I was growing up but only a few ever got busted. Still, that doesn't offer any solace to those who's lives will be ruined for what is fairly routine adolescent behavior.

  • Longtobefree||

    If accepting the liability that comes with being in charge of a group of kids that age did not scare you, I am puzzled how this does. You had no idea what they were texting, and are a prosecutors dream of a sex trafficker if any one of them even though something sexy while texting.

  • Cyto||

    Oh, we were scared. Make no mistake.

    The other dad and I joked about attaching a go-pro to our foreheads so we could provide evidence of innocence, should it be needed.

    We actually maintained a buddy system to ensure that no wild accusations could be made... Never less than 2 kids and 2 adults.

    It is a shame that it has come to this, but here we are.

  • silver.||

    "We actually maintained a buddy system to ensure that no wild accusations could be made... Never less than 2 kids and 2 adults."

    A similar technique was being utilized by employers when talking to female employees during the #metoo movement. This was denounced by some feminists as petty passive-aggression, but some guys have a very real (admittedly histrionic) fear of having their life ruined by an awkward or insensitive remark made without malice.

    The pendulum overswung. It does remind us that it's always good policy to document everything possible.

  • ||

    Why not consider the registry as another form of jail sentence? Give judges discretion as to how long one should be on the registry, as from 0 to 10 years. Give attorneys the right to argue for their clients at a registry sentencing hearing.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Because rational thought does not support the goal of sustainable moral panic. Report for reeducation.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Because the registry is a way to essentially enact ex-post facto law, which is clearly prohibited by the US Constitution.

  • Cyto||

    There is also the "well known fact" that sex offenders are have the highest rate of recidivism of all criminals. It is pathological and they cannot be stopped.

    This was the reasoning behind the registry - to keep us safe.

    So what do we do? Put on everything under the sun so that you can't find out if there really is a serial pedophile in the area.

  • JuanQPublic||

    Exactly. It's extremely problematic just by walking through the logic of it. And its not just ineffective. The best scenario would be ineffective, but there is strong reason to believe that it actually exacerbates what it's supposedly addressing.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The registries create a fantasy that every person on those registries are dangerous.

    The other fantasy is that every male is actually a pervert that needs to be caught and placed on the list.

    If you are a male, you have to be a fool to put yourself in any situation with kids that are not your own. Any accusation is treated as fact and your life will be ruined before you can prove your innocence.

    American women are getting their just desserts. American men still seek foreign women to marry to avoid some of this American soccer mom BS.

  • 1980-f||

    What kind of man prefers a woman who is meek, submissive and quietly deferential? Not one that I respect.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Stranger perpetrated child molestation is vanishingly rare. The vast majority of pedophiles victimize only children in their family/social circle, and those are at a fairly low risk of re-offending.

  • JustPlainGerald||

    I have to disagree with your logic on this, recidivism among sex offenders is lower than any other crime in America, Does the registry actually make you feel safe? If we are to implement a registry for sex crimes than why not do the same for habitual drunk drivers or bank robbers, grand theft auto? If you rob a bank, once released from prison you can live next to a bank and use money. A person placed on the registry for peeing behind a closed rest area gets a lifetime on the registry and can't be around children or places children congregate aka Child Safety Zone, is this fair? I have to say No.
    Mind you there are some really sick individuals out there that actual prey, some got busted peeing in public, the registry as a whole needs to be examined and changed into a tier system. Deregistration needs to be implemented as well. As the current laws go, too many politicians are not going to put their names on bills that limit the registration, for it is political suicide. I am currently fighting a charge from 30 yrs ago, it's been a long ride and in the end will win my case, thus removing me from the registry. Oh and all my neighbors know and they know me and have for 20+ yrs and guess what; they feel safe with me in their neighborhood.
    Get educated on the topic please.

  • Henry||

    "recidivism among sex offenders is lower than any other crime in America, Does the registry actually make you feel safe?"

    I see this argument cropping up repeatedly. The article itself says:

    "Only a tiny fraction of sex crimes against children are committed by people who are on the registry... About 5 percent of people on the list go on to commit another crime...'

    But this seems to me to be a fallacious statistical argument, due to incompleteness. What is the recidivism rate of sex offenders who are NOT on the registry, and/or what was it before the registry was founded? Saying that "only 5% of the people on the registry offend again" could in fact be testimony to the EFFECTIVENESS of the registry. I'm not saying it is or it isn't, but anyone arguing this statistic has to explain why this interpretation isn't the right one.

    Plus, the statement itself is vague. Is it talking about any sex crimes committed by people who are now on the registry, including those that got them on the registry, or only those committed after they were placed n the registry? Does the inclusion of the weasel words "against children" deceptively bias the statistic? (A serial kidnap/molester of grad students is no less objectionable than a serial kidnap/molester of high-school students.)

    It is clearly possible to make a sound, statistical argument for or against the offender list. The fact that this article hasn't done so tends to make me distrustful of its conclusions.

  • JudoPete||

    Except that the supposed well known fact has been myth-busted many times. Sex offenders are the LOWEST of all recidivists besides convicted murderers. If I recall, the actual figure is between 3 and 5% by the ten year mark. And most of those recidivisms are registry violations; not new acts of sexual deviancy. The "frighteningly high" recidivism remark was used to enact the civil, public safety statute that supposedly isn't punishment with violation penalties that have very real punishments. While the government spends billions of dollars incarcerating old men that had a 17 year old girlfriend 40 years ago for failing to register their new online dating profile, your kid's pervy step cousin twice removed is the one actually molesting children. Most sex crimes against kids are perpetrated by someone close to the victim; not "stranger danger". Every halloween though we get dire warnings of sex offenders handing out candy. Hopefully some day the sheep will wake up to the naked abuse they've allowed to be perpetrated in the name of a false sense of safety.

  • WC46||

    Robert Freeman-Longo, the man who started that "frightening and high myth" even now decries it.
    He published an article in "Psychology Today" back in the '80s and claimed without any evidence that sex offenders re-offend at the "frightening and high" rate of 80-90%. That assertion was never subjected to peer evaluation or validation of any kind, yet the Supreme Court has tenaciously clung to this myth ever since the first challenges to the registry and its plethora of life-crippling inhumane restrictions were filed. Even in Packingham v. North Carolina Alito poisoned the well with that very phrase in a concurrence that sounded every bit like a dissent.

  • WC46||

    I hope the quotes around "well-known fact" is sarcasm. Sex offenders of all stripes have the lowest re-offense rate of any group of felons, save murderers.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    There's only one way this would happen. Make all convicted felons register. It's the only way to make people see how stupid the whole thing is.

  • JustPlainGerald||

    I agree 100% Unicorn Abattoir..

  • flyfishnevada||

    A registry itself is repugnant no matter how long you're on it. If someone is so dangerous we must put them on a registry then why aren't they in prison? Especially considering the data seems to indicate the registry does little to prevent sex crimes. Just get rid of the damn things. And the 5% that do it again, that's what prisons are for.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    "penile plethysmographs"

    Really? Who would invent such a thing? And why?

    Turns out the answer is commies and to separate gay conscripts from non-hackers only pretending to be gay. Science!

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    There are a lot of sick fucks working in CPS and "group therapy" rehabilitation.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    "If my child was victimized, I'd want to kill a person," Horowitz says.

    This is the unspoken reason for a sex offender registry. It gives social permission to the vigilantes to go after a small percentage of Americans so that the rest of us don't have to put up with their schadenfreude. That Storm Front harassment case made it to the courts. Harassment laws don't carve out exceptions for people whom most Americans think deserve harassment, but anyone on a sex offender registry probably won't get the support to stop harassment that people who are targeted on account of their race or religion receive.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    "If my child was victimized, I'd want to kill a person," Horowitz says.

    This is the unspoken reason for a sex offender registry. It gives social permission to the vigilantes to go after a small percentage of Americans so that the rest of us don't have to put up with their schadenfreude. That Storm Front harassment case made it to the courts. Harassment laws don't carve out exceptions for people whom most Americans think deserve harassment, but anyone on a sex offender registry probably won't get the support to stop harassment that people who are targeted on account of their race or religion receive.

  • DD2TT||

    "Only a tiny fraction of sex crimes against children are committed by people who are on the registry,"

    Could be working based on this statistic, I suppose.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Could be working based on this statistic, I suppose."

    Buy my miracle tiger repellent. I use it myself and my yard in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin is tiger free!

  • IT||

    You got your analogy backwards.

    If the tigers had transmitters showing their locations then, victims might avoid tigers. But this might work, just as DD2TT pointed the sex offender list *might* be working.

    Your analogy works only if you want to spray kids with pedophile repellent in the hopes of warding off non-existant (in your world) sex-offenders.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "Could be working based on this statistic, I suppose."

    Buy my miracle tiger repellent. I use it myself and my yard in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin is tiger free!

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    ...14 year olds. Their victims were 12. They were post pubescent and old enough to know better. Being a teenager does not absolve them of behavior that in adulthood would clearly be felonious. As to whether that warrants a lifetime on a sexual offense registry is another matter.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Not a sex crime. So far from it it cheapens the experience of anyone who was truly victimized. But it politicians can appear to be soft on rape.

  • Cyto||

    Post pubescent and adult are not the same thing.

    The adolescent brain is still developing, and a lot of things that are obviously out of bounds for an adult seem like a good idea to them. That's why we don't put them in charge of the nuclear codes at 14. They are less responsible than an adult.

  • Henry||

    Washington DC, the absolute cesspool of people who think bad things are good ideas, is now suggesting letting them vote at 16.

  • WC46||

    Nooooo,,,,,,not working. The fact has always been that children are most frequently sexually molested by a close family member; a father, mom's live-in boyfriend who's too good to be true, a trusted next door neighbor, the preacher, the youth minister, the coach, the big brother/big sister mentor, etc. It's just that the rare stranger abduction/rape/murder cases get all the press. Incidents where a child was systematically groomed by a close family member or friend and was sexually accosted, but not brutalized physically, not kidnapped, or killed, etc. does not make news. It's every bit as evil, but only the most shocking incidents make the news. They gotta keep the ratings up!!

  • WC46||

    What would you say if a grown man gave that very 14-year-old boy a hand job or oral sex? Would you say that 14-year-old was old enough to know what he was doing then? Would you say that there was no basis for the adult to be charged with statutory rape because the 14-year-old is old enough to know right from wrong and knew full-well what he was consenting to and participating in? Or would you fall back to "That awful man took advantage of an innocent kid!"

    Which is it? When the kid does something that can be misconstrued by adults as sexual he knows exactly what he's doing or if he consents to sex with someone older he's too naive and immature to understand things sexual. Which is it? Does he understand the consequences of his actions or not? You and the law are talking out both sides of your mouths.

  • WC46||

    Of course I don't condone sex with kids. I just wanted to carry this argument to a place where it can logically go. Kids should not be able to consent to sex and kids who do sexual things should not be handled the same as adult predators. They don't understand the full ramifications of their actions. They may know the mechanics, but not the emotional aspect.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its the major problem with knee-jerk legislation- the logical double standard, etc are not considered fully.

    There was some cases of predator molestation going on, so the feminists demanded that every unconstitutional registries be instituted to track the 'bad guys'.

    Once they got that, the next step was for feminists to make every sexual act by men be potentially a crime even decades after the adult women consented to the sexual act.

    Add in making every sexual act by boys with girls under 18 an actual crime, so those boys will grow up scared of sexual contact.

    Girls and women no longer have to be bothered by boys and men pestering them for sex as all boys and men are registered sex offenders and can be arrested at any time the woman wants.

  • ||

    I'm commenting on Hit & Run in order to buy sex.

    Anybody got a problem with that? I'm asking you, FOSTA/SESTA!

  • Longtobefree||

    Why do you have to buy sex?
    It is available for free, if you know and follow the day's rules on consent and all that. OK, so maybe that is buying it too.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Why do you have to buy sex?

    So much easier than engaging in mating rituals.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Because buying sex is a whole lot cheaper than getting it any other way unless you are in congress or in college.

  • Longtobefree||

    This is bullying, not sex.
    So a lifetime of not being able to work or live or go to over half the country (that part near a school) seems more reasonable now.

  • James Pollock||

    There are states that don't impose restrictions on people on the registry, except for registration itself.

  • JuanQPublic||

    What needs to be increasingly highlighted is legislators' increasing tendency to legally sexualize non-sexual actions. In other words, when 14 year old boys are horsing around like 14 year old boys (per the article), most people aren't thinking "sex". It appears nobody at the legislation level is willing to point this out.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    If this disproportionately affected girls, it would be changed (not necessarily fixed, but changed).

  • WC46||

    You're right! If it disproportionately affected little girls it would be different altogether, after all little girls are soooooooo much more special than little boys. That's the ultra-feminist agenda at work. Strip the males of their power while they're still young boys and do it in a way that it lasts a lifetime.

    Why is what this stupid and vulgar 14-year-old did considered sexual abuse, but telling kindergarteners that it's ok if a little boy wants to be a little girl and wear a dress and that it's ok for two men or two women to marry and that being homosexual is just an "alternative lifestyle"?? Why is it not considered promoting under-age sex between minors when schools can give out condoms and give girls the pill without parental consent in some states?

  • James Pollock||

    " Why is it not considered promoting under-age sex between minors when schools can give out condoms and give girls the pill without parental consent in some states?"

    Well, there's the fact that not everybody in a school is under-age. Then there's the question of the accuracy of your information, since schools can't give girls the pill, period, in any of the states. Birth control pills require a prescription, and thus must be dispensed by a pharmacist, even though they come prepackaged from the manufacturer.

    As for your whining that people can marry someone of the same sex that they themselves are, boo hoo. If you don't want a same-sex marriage, don't get one.

  • WC46||

    What were you saying about schools not being able to give girls the pill without parental consent?

    http://ideas.time.com/2012/09/.....n-schools/

  • WC46||

    I want to present an argument that no one else has dared to verbalize:

    Let's just say for the sake of argument I'm one of those creeps who likes little kids. Let's say I was friends with the 14-year-old and I told him all about how good sex feels and got him curious and aroused and then he let me pleasure him in some way (orally or manually). I didn't force him; I didn't threaten him; I didn't bribe him. I simply described how good it would feel to him and he said he wanted to try it and I do. He likes it and lets me do it over and over again with no reservations or hesitation whatsoever. Now, consider that his parents catch us in the act. I get charged with at least statutory rape.

    Fast forward to court now: I take the stand and tell that the boy acted of his own accord and that he liked what I was doing to him. Now you guys tell me how far that defense would fly? Why wouldn't it fly?

    A 14-year-old is a minor and cannot give informed consent because they don't fully understand the consequences of their actions. Why then when it comes to the 14-year-old doing something crude and inappropriate, but definitely not sexual, he is suddenly mature enough to be charged criminally as if he understood exactly what he was doing? It's the law talking out both sides of their mouth!

  • StackOfCoins||

    A 14-year-old is a minor and cannot give informed consent because they don't fully understand the consequences of their actions.

    Informed consent is a fiction invented to deny freedom to people under the age of 18 on the basis they don't understand the consequences of their actions... because they are under the age of 18.

    I can find plenty of 18 years olds, or people in their mid 20s (and beyond) who also don't "understand the consequences of their actions," because that requires a fully-informed worldview and a lot of introspection and critical thought. But we don't criminalize these people making bad decisions, because they are adults, and it would be counter-productive to put them in prison or make them felons for stupidity.

    As for your thought experiment: it wouldn't fly because no one would trust you at your word. And because it is grooming a child for sex, regardless of how emphatically he encouraged it. It is the argument that the monstrous Leyland Stevenson made for his crimes in the film Chicken Hawk.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I would much rather have young people make mistakes when they are young, so they can potentially learn from them.

    Its part of growing up.

  • StackOfCoins||

    I agree. In fact, not being allowed to make mistakes is producing a generation of very stupid, fragile people, as has been covered in these pages and by Lenore herself.

  • WC46||

    You see my point. It wouldn't fly. So why should criminalizing young teens for acts of stupidity fly? It's ludicrous to criminalize this behavior. It's vulgar and mean, but not sexually criminal. You see the lunacy of it. Why should we let the law make sexually aware adults out of kids when it's rightfully prevented from those who are twisted and want sex with teens and younger?

    If it's unacceptable for the perp, it should be equally unacceptable for the government. They're kids for mercy's sake!

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Age cutoffs are stupid. This also happens to be true for things like alcohol, driving, firearms, and most other things. There are kids who are 15 years old who are better drivers than 21 year olds. There are kids who are 10 who have more knowledge and better respect for firearms than 25 year olds.

    As a society, we've arbitrarily picked a cutoff age for these things. And that's fine. But the DIFFERENCE here is that the consequence of not meeting the arbitrary cutoff age for alcohol isn't usually a big deal, whereas not meeting the arbitrary cutoff age for sex lands people in prison for years and the sex offender list for decades.

    Bottom line -- arbitrary age cutoffs can be acceptable when we're talking about shit that doesn't matter, but if we're talking about major prison time, the burden of guilt should not be based on arbitrary designations.

  • James Pollock||

    "Age cutoffs are stupid."

    They are extremely easy to prove (or disprove). That's why arbitrary age cutoffs are used as proxies for other things which are difficult to problemmatic to prove. (Proving, conclusively, that a person is or is not emotionally and physically mature enough to decide to have sex? Not something that I'd want to argue over, and I like to argue things.)

    That said, it's ALSO not that hard to figure out if a prospective sex partner will get you thrown in jail if the D.A. hears about it. If they're over the age of consent, and consent, then have fun. If they're under the age of consent, they didn't consent, no matter what happened in the warmups.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Age cutoffs are proxies, and often hold only weak correlations with the thing you're using it as a proxy for. It's merely an attempt to have a numerical value support a particular contention. The real problem comes when we start treating that numerical value as an immutable truth.

    A good example of this is using BAC as a proxy for intoxication, and the application of an arbitrary threshold. I'm not opposed to the idea of BAC being introduced in a courtroom to support other evidence that a person is intoxicated, but using it as the sole determining factor is a huge problem.

  • JudoPete||

    This same logic makes a nude photo of a person age 17 and 364 days "child porno" and one day later totally legal. If that 17 year old transmits a nude photo of themselves 1 minute before their 18th birthday they have produced and distributed child pornography and the person receiving it, whether they solicited it or not, guilty of possessing said porn. In many states, "Romeo and Juliet" laws exist that allow sexual relations between similar age couples, but having a photo of the same person is a felony requiring life on a registry with zero judicial discretion as to who that requirement should and shouldn't apply to; legislatures have handcuffed the judges to terrible laws that unjustly ruin lives and criminalize innocent (malum prohibitum, not malum ense) behavior.

  • James Pollock||

    " and the person receiving it, whether they solicited it or not, guilty of possessing said porn"

    Well, except not.

  • ||

    "Let's just say for the sake of argument I'm one of those creeps who likes little kids. Let's say I was friends with the 14-year-old ..."

    Oh, you mean like Elvis Presley was? Cuz he was 24 and Priscilla was 14 and no one seems to have any issues with that as we celebrate his birthday every year with his face gracing the cover of Time Magazine while anyone else who has such a relationship graces the sex offender registry and gets ostracized for eternity. Interesting that, eh?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There is zero constitutional authority to require Americans to register themselves with government and be prevented from living close to a school after they have served their sentence. The government has zero authority over you once you have completed your sentence.

    If while a parole or probation you had to register, that would probably be permissible as part of you sentence to stay out of jail.

    Going after kids under 18 as if they cannot have sexual experiences with other under 18 kids is lunacy. A kid raping another kid is one thing. Acting as if kids have enough free will to be criminal perverts but not enough free will to voluntarily experiment sexually, just proves how stupid some adults can be.

    Change the rules to hold parents responsible for sexual offenses their kids commit and you will see these soccer moms fold on this issue. Everyone knows that its impossible to control kids 100% especially when they are not under your direct supervision.

  • James Pollock||

    "There is zero constitutional authority to require Americans to register themselves with government and be prevented from living close to a school after they have served their sentence. The government has zero authority over you once you have completed your sentence."

    Correct. The authority is statutory. There's only one crime in the Constitution itself.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There is zero authority for the fed or states to enact statutory registries that require people not under criminal commitment to register.

  • James Pollock||

    Where did you get that wacky idea?
    Are you one of those nutters who thinks you can get out of a traffic ticket by claiming you weren't "driving", you were "traveling"?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Where did YOU get that wacky idea?
    Cite a constitutional authority that allows government to restrict where people can live and that they need to register their info with the government or face imprisonment?

    You can't. Next topic.

  • James Pollock||

    "You can't. Next topic."

    Except that I can, so I'll stick with THIS topic, thanks.

    "Cite a constitutional authority that allows government to restrict where people can live and that they need to register their info with the government or face imprisonment?"

    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively..." (U.S. Const., Amend X.)

    The powers you describe are neither assigned to the federal government, nor prohibited to the States.

    The States had both powers before they even joined the Union. The Constitution didn't take either one away from them. (So long as their legislatures impose these restrictions via a republican form of government, and following the restrictions of the fourteenth amendment.)

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Figures. No citation and more gibberish from you.

    States are now tied to the US Constitution via incorporation by the 14th Amendment.

    No state has a constitutional provision that allows for telling citizens how close to school they can live or requires citizens to register because of some past sex crimes where the sentence has been completed.

    I gave you a chance to provide some decent support for your position but clearly that will not be forthcoming from you.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    States cannot just make up a power and consider it constitutional.

    States still need enumerated powers from their state constitutions. Further limitations to states are provided by the US Constitution.

  • JudoPete||

    I believe it was Smith vs. Doe that held that because registration is a civil, public safety issue and not a criminal punishment that it is constitutionally viable and not ex post facto punishment. Tell that to the guy that served his time for a benign offense 40 years before the registry existed and is now homeless because he can't live where he's lived his entire life because new banishment ordinances forced him out of his home because there's a home daycare 2200' from his house.

  • James Pollock||

    Not all states include residency requirements with registration. The federal law that mandates creation and maintenance of registries has no such requirement.

  • WC46||

    JudoPete, it was indeed Smith v. Doe. What courts are slowly beginning to legitimize is the fact that the registry contemplated in Smith v. Doe was strictly informative. There were no work, residency or presence restrictions attached to it.

    Today's registry has morphed into a byzantine code of restrictions that intrude into and dictate every detail of a registered citizen's life.

    The penalty for violating the registry; not updating your address, not registering a vehicle, not registering a new e-mail address, etc. is so disproportionate and some states even count registry violations as new sexual offenses!! Gotta keep those recidivism numbers overinflated so they'll match the "frightening and high" myth Robert Freeman-Longo coined in the mid-'80s.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That judicial ninjitsu is clearly unconstitutional.

    How is a civil requirement authorized to carry a criminal penalty? No where in any state Constitution is that authorized. The US Constitution similarly makes no mention of some great government power to force citizens not in jail to register with the government and then if they don't it becomes a criminal offense.

  • Robert||

    What about the state's constitution?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There is no state Constitution that allows government to requires citizens to register with government and then authorizes prison if you don't.

    Its not a state right nor enumerated power of the federal government. Its why the courts tried to make it a civil requirement. Normally one can completely ignore civil requirements since there is no criminal penalty.

    For example, no answering the Census is a civil penalty. If you don't pay the fine, there is nothing the government can do about it except try and seize your money. They cannot put you in jail for not paying.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There is no state Constitution that allows government to requires citizens to register with government and then authorizes prison if you don't.

    Its not a state right nor enumerated power of the federal government. Its why the courts tried to make it a civil requirement. Normally one can completely ignore civil requirements since there is no criminal penalty.

    For example, no answering the Census is a civil penalty. If you don't pay the fine, there is nothing the government can do about it except try and seize your money. They cannot put you in jail for not paying.

  • ||

    The legal age of sexual consent in 27 states is 16, so why are you stuck on the age of 18 as if it's a magical age?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    He spent three and a half years in a Texas juvenile detention center, where his group therapy leader demanded that inmates admit to the additional rapes they'd committed. ... They'd then be forced to act their crimes out as part of the "treatment," Gravens says.

    The fuck?! How in the hell is that supposed to "treat" an "incurable sex fiend?" Someone should be investigating this so-called therapist.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Part and parcel of the topsy-turvy world we live in now. Aldous Huxley would not be amused.

    Similar to how genital mutilation is the preferred "therapy" of those who have gender-identity issues.

  • WC46||

    Thank God the courts are uniformly ruling that sexual history polygraphs are inherently unconstitutional in that they elicit admissions to felony sex offenses, the most serious of which can and do involve child victims under 12 years of age and are thus a violation of the offender's 5th Amendment right to be free of compelled self-incrimination. To exacerbate the unconstitutionality, treatment providers are required by law to report child sexual abuse to child protective services. Add to that there's no guarantee of immunity from the D.A. before the offender is required by terms of treatment and supervision to take the sexual history polygraph.

  • James Pollock||

    Polygraphs are generally inadmissible in courts.

  • Robert||

    He spent three and a half years in a Texas juvenile detention center, where his group therapy leader demanded that inmates admit to the additional rapes they'd committed. ... They'd then be forced to act their crimes out as part of the "treatment," Gravens says.

    The fuck?!


    Exactly.

  • James Pollock||

    "About 5 percent of people on the list go on to commit another crime, a far lower recidivism rate than almost any other class of criminals, including drug dealers, arsonists, and muggers."

    That's actually an argument that the list works to reduce re-offense.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Only under the assumption that the list serves as a deterrent, and a powerful one at that. This seems unlikely for two reasons: 1) virtually nothing serves as THAT powerful a deterrent, including the death penalty. 2) there's no evidence that recidivism is significantly higher without a list.

  • James Pollock||

    It is what it is. If you want it to be something else, it needs to be something else. As it is, it's an argument that the list works.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    An unconstitutional list.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    It's not a very compelling one.

  • jerryg1018||

    The reason the sex offenders registry lists so many offenses is because the original registries which only carried the names of known pedophiles was very short. A Connecticut legislator spent five years getting a registry law enacted and several more getting a web site on line. He faced heavy criticism for the time, labor and effort to create a list less than one page long. Rather than admit the effort was a total waste of time and taxpayer's money the legislature added former misdemeanor offenses such as public urination to the list. The list also grew to contain adult sex crimes that had nothing to do with sex crimes against children. The original purpose of the registry.
    At one time, still facing criticism for such a small list, the legislature contemplated going back fifty years to add those sex crimes which were former misdemeanors which were now felonies to expand the list.
    Fortunately, smarter heads prevailed.
    In 2003 my son and his family moved to NC, my daughter-in-law at the time decided to check that states registry while purchasing a home. Lo and behold a nearby address popped up, she was ready to cancel the purchase until a check of the offense revealed that person had been arrested for public urination as a teenager.

  • James Pollock||

    The federal government passed a (federal) law requiring states to establish and maintain sex-offender registries. They also listed the crimes that were to require registration.

    It IS amazingly stupid that crimes that don't involve forcible sex, or even any sex at all, to the sex-offender list. But the reason is two-fold. First off, no politician wants to take a position that can be painted as pro-sex-offender. This means they go along with stupid laws, even when they know they're stupid, because they don't want the next election cycle to feature ads with grainy black-and-white video and an ominous voice saying "Senator So-and-so voted to weaken sex-offender laws..." The other reason is that they don't want to pass a law that overlooks a case that advances to produce a visible, photogenic victim. So if there's a chance that a guy peeing behind a bar at 2:30am later goes on to flash his peenie at a woman behind a bar and later still goes on to rape one, then OBVIOUSLY we want to stop that perv at the first time he gets caught with his peenie out, and not wait until "Debra S." is telling her story, in silhouette, with her voice digitally altered, on the local news.

    It's just a fact that we can't always tell who is dangerous and who is not. The best way to avoid sex crimes is for everyone to take steps to protect themselves. Treating everyone as if they are a sex predator creates some other problems, of course.

  • Dan S.||

    Why is such a registry requirement not an unconstitutional "commandeering" of a state government, forbidden by the Printz decision?

  • James Pollock||

    Because it doesn't commandeer anything?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its all unconstitutional. Just nobody wants to defend sexual offenders with their blood.

  • JustPlainGerald||

    (clapping) Excellent points. Political Suicide is NOT on any politicians agenda.

  • Robert||

    So why don't politicians leverage this more? Why not include totally unrelated legisl'n as "sex offenses" so that, say, a vote for, or against, pork barrel spending becomes a "vote for sex offenses"?

  • James Pollock||

    You're under the impression that they don't?

  • ||

    Your daughter in law is an idiot for even having the thought pass through her mind that she'd give up a house just because someone in the neighborhood was on the registry. Your daughter in law, and perhaps you as well, seem to be of the belief that anyone who has even THOUGHT about committing a sex crime just magically appears on the registry.
    Meanwhile, your goodie-two-shoes neighbors with no criminal records are screwing their kids or kids's school friends. BUT...as long as you don't see them on any registry, you'll gladly live next door to them, eh? LMFAO

  • TTanin||

    One of the European countries (don't recall which at the moment) does not consider it an offense if the age difference between the parties is like 3 years or something. The caveat is meant to avoid ridiculous penalties for youngsters.

  • James Pollock||

    Several (but nowhere near all) states have "Romeo and Juliet" exceptions to statutory rape laws. They absolutely do not have similar exceptions for other sex crimes.

  • AmyJo||

    Unfortunately, my son was not given this so called "Romeo and Juliet" option if it exists in California. His life is now greatly restricted from age 18 on. Not right.

  • James Pollock||

    According to the Internet, California's "Romeo and Juliet" law reduces what would otherwise be a felony to a misdemeanor. Not as good as lowering it to not a crime at all, but better than it could be.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It lessens the pain of an unconstitutional and bad law.

    Fully enforce these stupid unconstitutional laws so everyone hurts, which is the quickest way to get these bad laws repealed.

  • WC46||

    I'll tell you why this law is like it is:

    These kids are easy prey for sinfully ambitious D.A.s and A.D.A.s who only care about their conviction rate.

    Sex offender convictions look good in a politically and professionally climbing prosecutor's curriculum vitae.

  • JustPlainGerald||

    Here Here!!!! Excellent response!!! What politician wants to commit Political Suicide to champion a case against the registry? ZERO..

  • JustPlainGerald||

    Here Here!!!! Excellent response!!! What politician wants to commit Political Suicide to champion a case against the registry? ZERO..

  • JustPlainGerald||

    Lenore Skenazy,

    Excellent article. I applaud you for bring this topic to the forefront. Too many individuals are forced to follow these Draconian Laws that virtually do nothing. Does having a public registry actually make our society better? No. Statistics have shown that a child during Halloween isat harm of being hit by an automobile vs. being sexually assaulted (cited article http://cqrcengage.com/gfwc/app......undefined).
    I am currently on the registry and am fighting the good fight for reform as our friend Josh is. Today, we are seen as monsters, social lepers and outcasts, one's that are unemployable and unwanted. I was released with a ten yr max. on registration in Washington State, upon moving to Texas I had to register immediately.
    My life virtually ended..
    Again, Great Article, one that I will share.

    Gerald

  • James Pollock||

    "Statistics have shown that a child during Halloween isat harm of being hit by an automobile vs. being sexually assaulted"

    Automobiles have to be registered, too.

    "upon moving to Texas I had to register immediately."

    Don't move to Texas. (Better yet, don't break the law. Moving to Texas, at least, is reversible.)

  • JustPlainGerald||

    I wish I hadn't moved to Texas!

  • Robert||

    Why not move back?

  • AmyJo||

    My son is also on the sex offender registry and 100% DOES NOT DESERVE IT. Statutory rape. He was 18 and she was 3 days until her 16th birthday. He must register for life as well as suffer the rest of the consequences. The really frustrating part is that he was not the first boy that has been convicted behind the same girl. She has put at least one if not more boys/men in jail for the same thing. But, that does not matter according to our attorney at the time. Ridiculous

  • JustPlainGerald||

    AmyJo,
    My "victim" has had three other persons incarcerated and this is one part of my current case against the judgement placed against me 30 yrs ago. She has a habitual need to be accepted and my lawyer is soon to show how if she doesn't get her way cried wolf. Do I want her to suffer, no. Do I want monetary reimbursement from her lies, No. I want her to see how she has damaged people from her lies. My case is currently in the Supreme Court. I long for the day that our current police state sees people as innocent first rather than their guilty before innocent thinking. I suggest you and your son get hold of the Innocence Project in your state. You have a legitimate case. I wish you well and hope you soon find help.

  • JudoPete||

    By that math I guess both of my grandfathers should have been on the registry. Both of my grandmothers were 15 when they married. My grandfathers were 19 and 21. They both had long, happy marriages with many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and died married to their life mate. They were neither evil or perverted; they were just doing what came naturally.
    In most countries, 16 is the legal age now. I believe Spain and Portugal are 13 or 14. Only the USA and a couple of other nations want to jail, register, and harass young lovers for doing what nature tells them to do.

  • James Pollock||

    Here in the states, each state sets its own laws. Some use 16, some 17, and some 18.
    What has been in the news most recently is the fact that some states allow 15-year-olds to get married.

  • JustPlainGerald||

    For those banging their Sex Offenders are Monsters drum, What if your son was convicted of having relations with this GF (or as the state (insert your state here) raping his GF as the (insert state here) will see it; even though it was consensual. The state decides to charge your son, the GF and her parents don't. Your son now spends up to 12 years in prison and a lifetime branded as a sex offender, do you see this as fair? Are you willing to help this fight against this social ostracization? Get educated on this topic and get rid of your "burn them on the post" mentality. Now, I will say after being forced into "therapy" that there are some seriously sick individuals on the registry, But not every RSO (Registered Sex Offender) is a violent, dangerous predator, they are men/women that had a bad decision affect their lives forever (peeing in public).

  • James Pollock||

    If I had a son, he'd have been warned about the risks of having sex, including the danger of underage sex having criminal consequences.

    I think the way statutory rape laws work is stupid (particularly in those states that lack a "Romeo and Juliet" exception) but I also think that getting caught by this law is 100% preventable. There's a better case for questioning the inclusion of a whole bunch of crimes that don't actually involve sex as "sex crimes", and placing restrictions on registrants beyond registration for the 99%+ of registrants who aren't dangerous to the public.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That's it... cave to Nanny-State tyrants.

    Fuck them and fight every bad law until these counties, states and the fed go bankrupt.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    "If I had a son, he'd have been warned about the risks of having sex, including the danger of underage sex having criminal consequences."

    And teenagers are always so good at thinking about consequences before they act. Especially when it comes to sex.

  • swampwiz||

    I have noticed that my neighborhood is sufficiently far from the schools & churches, etc., so I am always getting the postcards from the sexual assault perps that move nearby. They all seem to be old white men that LOOK like they are perverts.

  • misthiocracy||

    "Today, your child is more likely to end up on the registry than to be molested by someone on it."

    Couldn't one argue that's evidence that the registry works? The whole point of the registry is to prevent registered sex offenders from being able to commit sexual offenses, so it stands to reason that most sex crimes will be committed by people who are not yet on the registry.

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