Let me be clear – I believe the Sex Offense Registry should cease to exist. However, it seems most of the larger Registrant advocacy groups have abandoned hope of a world without a registry. The registry continues to destroy lives so long as it exists, but if there is no way to fully abolish the registry, can we at least modify the existing registry to balance temper the unlimited use of the Registry?
There have been nearly 200 murders directly tied to the Sex Offense Registry and an untold number of other crimes. (My Crimes Against Registrants Database/ CARD mostly lists only those offenses reported in the media and with few exceptions, does not cover unreported offenses.) The May 2020 murder of a Registrant in Omaha, Nebraska has led to public support for a man who used the registry and info from a Facebook vigilante group to commit his crime. Registry information has been used for murder, assault, extortion, robbery, harassment, and vandalism against Registered Persons, their loved ones, and even innocent people merely mistaken for someone accused or convicted of a sex offense.
If the Registry must continue to exist, then this sensitive data of Registered Persons should not be given out so freely. Below are a few modest proposals, most based of my old “Stop Vigilante Violence and Websites Act of 2010” proposal I made a decade ago. While I believe that the registry should not exist in ANY form whatsoever, these modest changes to the registry would lead to a decrease of registry-inspired crimes.
Remove Registry from the Internet and establish registry kiosks at police stations: Those seeking to use the public registry would have to go to a local police station to access the database and sign in using their real names (presumably by creating their account using a State ID/ DL card). This database could be used to find potential suspects in the event of a vigilante attack against a Registered Person.
Make registry info illegal to reproduce online: Make it illegal to post registry info on social media (Facebook, Twitter, NextDoor, etc.,), in mugshot magazines, and private registry services (Family Watchdog, HomeFacts, City-Data, SORArchives, etc.).
Establish a law to make it easier for victims of vigilante violence to take perpetrators to civil court: Right now, it is far too easy for vigilante and vigilante groups to harass, threaten, and intimidate Registered Persons and their loves ones using technology, and it is difficult to gain the records necessary to reveal the identity of attackers due to the amount of court intervention it takes to get IP and phone records. There should be a more easily devised process by which victims of vigilantes can obtain data on those engaging in internet crimes.
Remove individual registry info from Google and similar search engines: Right now, a handful of states, including Florida, Nebraska, and Texas, allow registry data to be searched through a simple Web Browser search.
While my true desire is the abolishment of the sex offense registry, these very modest proposals would at least increase protections for Registered Persons and their loved ones from vigilante attacks.
Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com
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