Empirical research has repeatedly proven that community notification is ineffective at increasing community safety, but rather it excels at increasing collateral and direct damage to former offenders and their families, which is increasing daily as citizens use the sex offender websites as hit lists for vigilante actions against offenders , their families, friends and employers. These vigilante actions range from bullying, vandalism, harassment, assaults and even murder. Also legislators are increasingly abusing their power by creating laws, which often violate the Constitution, that are based not on empirical research or sound logic but on emotion, opinion, hysteria and what is popular and most likely to get them reelected. This further adds to the harm done to these former offenders and their families.
I believe it’s time to look at the real problem, the registry itself. If there was no registry then there would be no community notification and no collateral damage. So what exactly is the reason for the registry in the first place besides a bigoted hatred towards a specific group of people? People that I might add have already repaid their debt to society through punishment handed down by the judicial system. If the registry where truly about public safety, rather than hatred and vengeance towards this specific group, then wouldn’t all dangerous criminals be on some sort of registry?
If you look at at the laws, the legislature gives us insight into their reasoning for the registry’s existence. For example, if you look at the findings of the Nebraska Legislature listed under statute 29-4002 they state the following:
“The Legislature finds that sex offenders present a high risk to commit repeat offenses. The Legislature further finds that efforts of law enforcement agencies to protect their communities, conduct investigations, and quickly apprehend sex offenders are impaired by the lack of available information about individuals who have pleaded guilty to or have been found guilty of sex offenses and who live, work, or attend school in their jurisdiction. The Legislature further finds that state policy should assist efforts of local law enforcement agencies to protect their communities by requiring sex offenders to register with local law enforcement agencies as provided by the Sex Offender Registration Act.”
So the first thing that we should look at is listed in the very first line of their justification for having the registry. That is their belief that, “sex offenders present a high risk to commit repeat offenses”. While the statement may be factual about sex offenders in general it is not true for people who have already been convicted of sex offenses. Once a person is caught and convicted their likelihood of being involved in another sex crime is beyond being extremely small. In the recent Nebraska study that looked at all people involved in sex crimes in Nebraska the re-offense rate was 6/10 of 1% per year. That is the lowest re-offense rate for any criminal class. So the legislature’s justification for having people register if they’ve been convicted or found guilty of a sex crime just vanished.
The second reason they provide as rationale for implementing the registry is, “that efforts of law enforcement agencies to protect their communities, conduct investigations, and quickly apprehend sex offenders are impaired by the lack of available information about individuals”.
Has having a registry in any way brought about the conviction of a person on the registry for a new sex crime? To date the answer is no. If a person who is on the registry has been convicted of a new sex crime it was most likely brought about by ordinary police work, and the use of all the high-tech gadgets that law-enforcement has at their disposal rather than the registry playing any part in securing a conviction.
So having people on a registry does not aid law enforcement. Especially when you consider that of all new sex crimes 99.973% are committed by people not on the registry. ( table from NCJ 198251 Exhibit 6F Data from: Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994, DOJ:OJP, BJS Report NCJ198281) This means that in the United States over a three-year period people on the registry were possibly responsible for less then0.027% or 27/1000 of 1% of new sex crimes. So why is law enforcement wasting the resources to run a standalone registry that actually serves no purpose. Not to mention the thousands of hours wasted each year doing compliance checks.
What it comes down to is that the legislature’s reasons for even having the registry are based on falsehoods, lies and misconceptions that were presented to them by vengeful self centered bigots who’s only goal was to seek more punishment to heap on people who have already paid their debt to society. We as Americans have seen this type of bigoted hysteria before directed at and against what were considered undesirable groups of people whether it was the hysteria and prejudice directed at individuals because of their political beliefs ( during the McCarthy era), or because of race and color, religious beliefs, or personal choices of lifestyle. It makes no difference what group is targeted or the justifications, when our government uses myths, lies and hysteria to force a agenda on that disfavored group True Americans should stand up united and make it clear that we the people will not tolerate stripping ANYONE of the civil and human rights afforded to them by our Bill of Rights and the Constitution.