Thirty people personally attended the recent special Nebraska Judiciary Committee hearing on the public sex offense registry. The message is clear — the registry needs to be abolished, not merely reformed.
Most sex crimes occur at home by someone the victim knows; nearly all arrested have no prior record. A 2013 study by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (and dozens of similar studies) confirms people convicted of sexual offenses have a less than 1% annual recidivism rates; overall sex crime rates or re-offense rates have not been affected at all by the advent of the public registry.
Yet we insist on wasting taxpayer dollars on this ineffective government blacklist that destroys the lives of registrants or others connected in any way to a registrant. Registered persons have suffered ostracism, property damage, harassment, assaults and murder as a direct result of this blacklist; In April 2009, two men taunted and attacked a registered person in Lincoln with a shovel while numerous witnesses (including children) looked on.
The registry has only been proven useful for vigilantes. The registry impacts the economy, too; registrants have extremely high levels of unemployment, so most are welfare dependent.
We’ve proven in the 25 years since President Bill Clinton signed the Omnibus Crime Bill in 1994 that the registry can never be limited to the “worst of the worst.” As a registered citizen and civil rights advocate, I see the registry like the mythical hydra; reforming the registry is akin to cutting off one of the hydra’s heads, and mere “reforms” will fade over time.
Abolishment, not mere “reform,” is the answer.