IML called America’s global embarrassment

By Tamara Lave..….

What sounds like a good law in a twenty-second sound bite sometimes turns out to be less clear when one digs below the surface. Such is the case with International Megan’s Law, which President Obama recently signed into law. International Megan’s Law requires those who committed a sex offense against a child to have a permanent stamp placed on their passport. While this may sound like a no-brainer if we consider the media’s portrayal of the sexual predator, reality is far more complicated.

International Megan’s Law means a teenager who was convicted of distributing child pornography for sexting with her boyfriend may not be allowed to do a semester abroad in college. A budding architect who plead no contest to child molestation for having sex with his freshman girlfriend when he was a high school senior may never be able to marvel at the Grand Pyramids. A father may not be permitted to cheer on his daughter as she competes for her country in the Olympics because he touched a 12-year-old boy over the clothes some thirty years ago and has remained law abiding ever since.

The stated rationale for International Megan’s Law is two fold: (1) Individuals who have offended against a child pose an extremely high risk of reoffending, and (2) Megan’s Law will stop them from doing so.

The first premise (dangerousness) is demonstrably false. Study after study has shown that sex offenders actually have a low recidivism rate. A 2003 Department of Justice study followed 9,691 sex offenders released from prison in 15 states across the country. It found just 5.3% were rearrested for a new sex crime within 3 years, and only 3.3% of child molesters were rearrested for a new sex crime against a child.(Source.) Juveniles pose even less of a risk. A 2009 study of 1,275 juvenile male sex offenders in South Carolina found just 7% were rearrested for a new sex crime within nine years of original offense.(Source.) Women pose the lowest threat. A 2010 meta-analysis of ten studies found only 1% to 3% of women recidivated sexually.(Source.) This premise also ignores that what counts as a sex offense against a child can include a high school senior having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend, behavior that should be discouraged but which does not deserve the designation of international pariah.

The second premise (effectiveness) is wrong as well. Studies show that Megan’s Law has had little to no impact on the incidence of sex offending. Indeed a 2008 analysis by the Department of Corrections in New Jersey concluded, “Given the lack of demonstrated effect of Megan’s Law, the researchers are hard-pressed to determine that the escalating costs are justifiable.” Source

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30 Thoughts to “IML called America’s global embarrassment”

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  1. Deb Mrugala

    This new “law” is way beyond anything I could ever have imagined and my heart is so broken to think that Obama, a man who pardon many just a few months back could do such a thing. Does he not realize that possibly in the future driver license may be done away with for the very same reason airports are now requiring passports instead because licenses are so easy to duplicate. It’s bad enough that an offender has to divulge his crime when seeking employment or possibly a place to live – now they have to let others know? My son is trying very hard to get his life back together after being incarcerated for a “non-violent” “non-physical” crime – so he has to pay for the rest of their lives. With all the violence that is happening all around us why do murderers not have to do the same? They can do such a crime over seas as well as here so should not the public be aware of them also? Public shaming is not the way to go – giving that second chance is and with that second chance many more positive endings will happen.

    1. Paul

      Obama’s been pretty stingy with pardons. Maybe he’ll save for when he’s leaving office but I haven’t been too impressed.

    2. Ty

      Deb….you are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. Some states actually require State ID and driver’s licenses to boldly display SEX OFFENDER on them. With or without a passport identifier, most developed countries already know when you enter the country that you are an offender. First, they are tied into the USDOJ database and secondly, one is required to notify their local authorities if they are traveling internationally. The identifier is just icing on the cake.

      For those who know me, I must sound like a broken record, as my fight with the AWA is not necessarily with registration, but the little addition that bans offenders from sponsoring a foreign applicant for a green card. Most of the IML arguments mirror those that could be used to contest this part of the law. As it is, because I had an offense against a minor (as defined by Federal law… in the state in which my offense occurred, the victim was considered legally capable of consenting), I am unable to sponsor my wife for a green card. We have been turned down twice and she was forced to move back to Japan under threat of deportation. Note that we have been married for 10 years, my offense was 20 years ago, and at age 64, there are no minors involved with her application. On the surface, I would not be able to travel to Japan, or her to the US. We were able to obtain a special permit for me to travel to Japan, but that is the only country we are able to see each other at on an intermittent basis.

      Where in the constitution is it allowable for a spouse to be punished for the actions of her husband?

      It is unconstitutional (Ex Post Facto) to increase a punishment by a law superceding the adjudication of a crime.

      The law is applicable to “those convicted of a …”. Since I pled no contest and guilt was never truly determined, should such laws be administratively applied without due process?

      The AWA as interpreted by the USCIS claims the ban can be lifted if NO RISK is determined. What risk? If the crime was against a minor and the government is concerned about recidivism, how does sponsoring an adult place them at risk? Or are they accusing us of any crime? If they are concerned about the welfare of the beneficiary, then why limit the restriction only to those convicted of a sex crime against a minor? What about domestic abuse? Murder or Assault convictions? The joke is that touching a minor bans one from sponsoring an immigrant, but raping and murdering an adult does not.

      The AWA provision for immigration has been interpreted so broadly that it is flagrantly unconstitutional. As will the IML. Personally, I think we need to get a sister lawsuit together with some of the same arguments against this part of the AWA…. both the AWA immigration statute and the IML would be under attack for basically the same reasons and where one succeeds will benefit the other.

  2. Fred

    Obama will defend signing this as a measure to protect his daughters, the daughters of others and similar non-sense. He really let me down, but also opened my eyes to the fact that the only people who can take control of our lives again is us.

    We should be organizing massive demonstrations. Most of us are cowering and hiding, while relying on people like Janice to do the fighting for us. No amount of legal battles or political lobbying is going to end the oppression against former SOs.

    We might think our little movement here is something, but the reality is groups like RSOL are still very much hidden in the shadows. Former SOs, their families and friends could be reaching out to other former SOs in their areas and uniting us all.

    Federal Courts did not abolish the practice of Jim Crowe laws because lawyers made a strong case on the Constitutional violations. No, they ruled in favor of the oppressed because they could clearly see the hundreds of thousands of people actively demonstrating how angry and fed up they were. . When are going to crawl out of the shadows and make our voice heard?

  3. Paul

    I hope Obama’s signing this bill comes to be seen in much the same way that we currently view President Clinton’s 1994 crime bill signature. Obviously my wish is that it doesn’t take 20 years for people to realize this but time will tell. As someone who more or less supported Pres. Obama, I felt hugely disappointed in him as a person. As someone who has never taught a cause in constitutional law but knows our president is a scholar in that area, it’s hard to see how he didn’t know what he was doing was unconstitutional. If you start from the premise that he knew what he was doing was unconstitutional, then you have to ask the question; was he being purely expedient or are we the one category of citizens whose rights he is totally willing to trample on?

  4. Maestro

    It would be interesting to also know in these studies of recidivism, how many of those who committed another sex offense did so because they legitimately have a problem vs those who did it again because of the toughness of probation and the registry making life difficult to move forward in so in turn the offender got a case of the “F” its and just continued down the dark path.
    It would also be fair to know how many of them turned to drugs or other crimes based on the same ‘after prison’ stipulations. Because when someone has a sex offense record but they go back to prison/violation of probation for drugs/alcohol, the system actually sees that as recidivism.

    1. Paul

      Oh yeah, the registry doesn’t help with rehabilitation. I don’t need a study to tell me that. Actually, I have read some studies which confirm this (J.J Prescott is an example) What I’ve read indicates exactly what you just said, if recidivism occurs, it’s almost always a non-sexual crime. But does being homeless, friendless, dateless, wifeless and penniless contribute to crime? Is the Pope Catholic? The registry accomplishes “othering” us to almost make us nonexistent as people. Common sense should tell even a budding social scientist with a middle school education that this isn’t the way to reduce non-sexual crimes.

      1. Fred

        Its easier to control us when we are victims and it will continue until decide to take charge of our own lives.

      2. Paul

        A lot of people still on supervision seem intimidated to go public with this. They say their probation officer would make life hell for them if they became involved in activism. That makes up a large section of the RSO population. What advice would you give them?

      3. Fred

        its a scary thing and it is not with out risks, but we have more to lose by doing nothing.

      4. Fred

        All we need is one large demonstration at the capitol of any state and that will inspire other states to stand up and do the same.

    2. Paul

      And you are right, Maestro, the “system” counts a non-sexual crime OR probation violation as if someone committed a brand new sexual offense. So if I steal a heath bar from a candy store (have no intention of doing so), I have, in essence, committed a sexual offense. Can anyone explain the logic of that to me?

  5. Underground


    1. Fred

      As soon as everyone agrees to stop hiding and come out for it.

    2. Jewelbeach

      When we all team up and make a stand to the world and government. And also challenge the registration process to eliminate it. The registration process should be for all or no criminals. All offenses can eventually or have a potential to hurt a child or teen. However, sex offenders are being discriminated against and will continue to be punished even after they are done with their jail terms. I cant believe this is happening here in the free world.

  6. Nate

    I was fortunate enough to not get probation. I’m simply registered. I have a good job with a livable wage. I’m still suffering from anxiety and depression. I had that before I offended but I didn’t understand it and have control of it like I do now. But it feels more intense than ever because it’s fueled by shame and fear. I’ve heard threats that people in the family are looking for me. I’m concerned because my address is there for them to use as they please. I want to be social and avoid the isolation that lead to my offense but people dont want to befriend a sex offender. My co-workers dont know so I worry about the inevitable s^&%storm when that shoe drops. I live in fear and it’s painful. I still have no desire or thought of re-offending. It’s not even remotely on the radar whereas before it was a result of some very uncomfortable and unwelcome fantasizing. When the public understands that deviancy is a mental disease like bi-polar or schizophrenia that can be treated with compassion we’ll make progress. When the public realizes their hatred actually fertilizes the seeds of deviancy there will be progress. When people understand that before there was a sex offender there was a lonely hurt person who simply needed support, there will be progress. Sadly they do not see that so many of the victims they rally for will become the offenders they hate. Deviancy starts in painful soil. Only widespread compassion can interrupt that cycle. It should be a no-brainer but sadly, hate is the popular choice. It is mindless and it makes people feel good. It’s the same reason our military budget is out of control. Fear and Hate. The number one drugs in the world. Know and understand what we are up against. I say this not to discourage you, but rather so you prepare for a battle with understanding. And never forget to honor the life you harmed. Unless of course we’re talking about fallout from an innocent relationship between two kids in high school. That whole mess has me SMH.

    1. Paul

      Sorry, but I have to disagree with you on this one. The public has already medicalized and pathologized sex offenders. They do see it akin to schizophrenia. The problem is that they try to have it both ways. On the one hand, they’ll say it’s a medical condition but since it can’t be cured, lock em up and throw away the key. In other words, the same way that schizophrenia can be controlled with anti-psychotic medications and therapy, there is no cure. That same medical model is applied to us. We have a “sickness” but we can’t be cured. We have to stay away from that terminology because quite frankly, it doesn’t apply to most of us and it’s counterproductive. I’m not in denial when I say that. Most of us have screwed up big time. But framing this medically only plays into the hands of bigots.

      1. Paul

        Nate, I do agree with your point that people need to view us as people and not monsters. But that doesn’t happen by using words like “mental disease”. Quite the contrary, that’s a term a lawyer uses to get his client to be found not guilty by reason of insanity (disease or defect). Again, I don’t mean to be to obnoxious about this and drivel on and on, but I don’t think we can afford to use such language.

      2. Fred

        I strongly agree with you on that Paul. Even though many of us can legitimately state that we have had issues in our lives which may include our upbringing or social confusion, it should never be classified as a disease or mental illness. Not only is that not true except for special cases, that type of thinking only gives them more power over us as we are confirming to them that we are indeed incurable and should be monitored carefully. As I said in a previously comment, we have to stop thinking as victims with a shameful handicap and realize that even though we may be guilty of exercising bad judgement or forming unhealthy obsessions in our past, it does not define who we are as people. We can not be giving them a reason to continue blocking us from striving for our full potential by believing that we are sick and stuck in a particular mindset.

        I honestly believe that every person who reads or comments on this website is truly a healthy minded person capable of being a productive member of society. My advice is to forgive ourselves for our past mistakes, even if others don’t and refuse to let that past define us as people.

    2. Fred

      Nate, I certainly do feel your pain and it echos so strongly with what I have gone through myself and in some ways am still going through. My first marriage ended partially because my ex-wife just could no longer tolerate the embarrassment of State Troopers showing up at our house just to confirm that I do live there. However, after our divorce was finalized I have come to realize that it was no great loss and I am actually relieved that she is no longer part of my life as she was toxic in other ways (thankfully we didn’t have kids).

      I too went through the fear of being found out at work,as in my state they list our jobs on the registry. I live in a tiny village where there are only 4 RSOs. I often wonder if my landlord knows and if not will she kick me out when she finds out? I have lived here since 2011 and as small as this town is no one has harassed me here yet,

      Not that long ago I was having regular panic attacks and I started going to counselling. I feel like I am mostly over the anxiety problem and feel a lot more confident than I did a couple years ago. I get the most anxious now when its getting close to time to go in and verify my address. Cops make me nervous. If a cop is behind me when I am driving I literally start shaking. I don’t know why, I haven’t done anything wrong since the year 2000, but still cops make me very nervous.

      I tend to avoid family gatherings for a couple personal reasons, but one of them is because sometimes I worry that some of my relatives may think I am a child molester and I just don’t want to be around people who think I am a child molester. Nobody has said anything to that effect, but there is that sense of discomfort from others, especially if they are parents when I am at a family gathering. So yes I definitely feel isolated often except for my closest immediate family and my girlfriend.

      We have to remember though that we are not alone. There are a lot of us and we should be having our own gatherings and maybe discussing how we can go forward from here. We made mistakes in the past, but that doesn’t mean we are not still good people and have a lot to offer.

      From your comment I get the impression that you are a healthy person with good morals and priorities. Don’t be afraid to forgive yourself for your past and be proud of the person you are today. Try to stay strong and be optimistic about the future as more and more people are joining in on our fight and eventually we will no longer be a quiet voice that can be ignored.

      1. Paul

        Fred, I like your style. I totally agree with everything you told Nate. Nate, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been told in therapy that you have an illness that you can’t get rid of. Practically all of us have been indoctrinated with that. It’s one of the containment model’s core beliefs. Now you’ve never been on probation so it is possible you’ve never been court ordered for Sex Offender therapy but let me tell you that it’s a bit like A Clockwork Orange. If you have had this therapy, then you know what I am talking about. You have to basically admit that you have a latent monster inside of you, capable of acting out at any moment. If you don’t admit that, you are seen as resisting treatment and are threatened with being violated. Even if you haven’t been indoctrinated with that on the outside with therapy, you probably heard it on the inside. Please try not to buy into it. It’s very disempowering. I agree with Fred. Don’t see yourself as sick. See yourself as someone a good human being who made a mistake and who will never repeat the same mistake again. It’s really the most healthy way you can frame your situation.

        Fred, I HATE going to register. I always go with someone, I never go alone. And there is a reason I haven’t gotten a ticket since I have been placed on the registry. I go UNDER the speed limit so as to make sure I don’t get stopped. I always go above board and follow the law to a tee but I have a bit of PTSD too when dealing with the police.

      2. Paul

        And Fred, I HATE social gatherings for the same reason you stated. The wondering about who knows and who doesn’t know and worst of all, the wrong conclusions some people may form about me based upon my status bestowed upon me by our government. It makes socializing incredibly difficult having that constant uncertainty. I know others feel similarly but it helps to hear someone confirm that out loud. Thank you, and hang in there!

      3. Fred

        It’s good to know that we have a whole group of people here who understand each other. That gives us a lot of strength.

  7. JR

    Interesting piece on access to other countries based on passport county of origin. 147 countries for US Passports. (This may not be true after IML! )

    Passport Index: A list of the most powerful passports in the world | BGR

  8. Joshua

    I wrote to my congressman, Congressman Tim Huelskam, before the IML vote and this is what he wrote as well as my reply:

    Dear MR Ferguson,

    Thank you for contacting me to express your support for continued U.S. involvement in stopping human trafficking and bringing to justice perpetrators who engage in these acts both domestically and internationally. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.

    Throughout history the United States has been uniquely positioned to extend an arm of compassion to exploited women and children. Likewise, the federal government continues to be engaged in placing diplomatic pressure to stop these acts of enslavement in other foreign nations. I believe in the God-given dignity and value of every human life. From conception until death, human life is a gift and should never be for sale to the highest bidder. Allowing these heinous acts that rob children of their innocence, devalue women, and tear apart families continue unchecked is unacceptable. The problems internationally and domestically are complex and require a multi-faceted approach.

    The law and order component of the issue of human trafficking is best met by the federal and local governments enforcing laws currently in place. However, the government is ill-equipped to meet the personal and emotional needs of those victimized both inside and outside our borders. As a father of four adopted children, I believe cultivating a culture of life and defending the voiceless begins by individuals proactively engaging and identifying the needs of those in our families and communities. Please know that should legislation that addresses this matter come before me for a vote in the House, I will keep your views in mind.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you have not already, I encourage you to take a moment to find me on Facebook, follow my personal updates on Twitter and check out my latest speeches and media appearances on YouTube.


    Tim Huelskamp
    Member of Congress

    My reply, (sorry, this post is a bit long) but wanted to share

    Congressman Huelskamp,

    Thank you for your reply to my email. I’m amazed at the position you take with evidence supporting a contrary position and no evidence supporting your own position of supporting the International Meghans Law. It has been proven over and over that the registration laws do nothing to prevent offenders from offending again and in fact isolate offenders who have completed their sentence. There has not been a single case of a sex offender from the United States being accused of a sex crime abroad and yet this bill passed with no real intelligent thought or discussion.
    I would encourage you to contact and the attorneys they work with in order to learn more about sex offenders and move past the common myths. Enforcing these laws are expensive and provide a false sense of security to the general public while punishing not only each offender but their family as well.

    Again, thank you for your reply and I hope through education we can change some of the stigmas and rely on real facts and data.

    I’m hoping he will open a dialog but I seriously doubt it.

    1. JR

      Well, unfortunately, this is a form letter reply from your congressman. I received a nearly identical letter from mine and I’m here in Florida.

    2. Fred

      Very vague form letter reply. I get those too. Like I said the other day. We can present all the evidence in the world until we are blue int he face it won’t make a difference. They see that, they get it, they don’t care. They have more to gain by ignoring the facts. Its not about doing what’s right, its about doing what benefits them. Until we are large enough and loud enough to where they can no longer ignore us they will continue to ride this money train with out a second thought. That ist he reality of the situation. It does not matter how good our lawyers are or how well they present their cases. It all comes down to the volume of those effected and right now we are not very loud.

      1. Josh

        It is frustrating getting those form letters and I’m sure my response will be met with the same attention that the original letter I sent received.

      2. Fred

        Keep writing them. It is more than a lot of people are doing and at this, time it really is our best form of communicating with law makers. I recommend that everyone try to send one email letter, one written letter, and maybe half a dozen phone calls, just to keep them on their toes. They continue with this because they think they are not stirring up enough anger for it to matter. If we can show them other wise it will really work in our favor.

    3. david

      Haha….good luck getting any kind of real response. I wrote my representative and got basically the same bullsh*t in return. Just like the “response” you received, mine was an anti-abortion, pro-military bunch of misguided PR hooey practically designed to make my head explode.

      I mean if Mr. Congressman really cared about life how about extending that concern to those babies who actually managed to be born and grow into human beings? Even the babies who grew up and committed a sex crime.

      IML isn’t going to do squat to prevent child exploitation in other countries. It’s just a marketing move to extend the USA’s sex crime franchise.