How many things are wrong about the sex offender registry?

By Sandy . . .

What’s wrong with the registry?

Trick question, right? I mean, what ISN’T wrong with the registry? We could make lists all day long. However, some things seem more wrong than others, and I have come up with a doozy.

In Pennsylvania, citizens are on that state’s sex offender registry for committing “custodial interference.” In other words, non-custodial parents kept their own children longer than allowed during visitation or, in some cases, took off with them for a few extra hours or days or possibly even longer. There was no sex. There was no abuse. There was no assault. The children were located, safe and sound, and returned to the legal custodian. But these parents are included on a registry whose purpose purports to be to protect the public from those who have previously committed sexual assault or abuse.

These are cases that are written up by law enforcement as “custody disputes” or “interfering with child custody.” This addition to the criminal code of sexual offenses was made in December of 2012 and carries a registration requirement of 15 years as a Megan’s Law child sex offender.

The convicted parents are subject to all of the usual requirements and restrictions of the registry. One mom reports additionally that “Potential employers are wary of her sex offender status… Landlords are reluctant to rent to her. Daycare center operators don’t want her son. A homeless shelter turned her away…a transitional housing program rescinded her admission after two days because the program’s sponsor was uncomfortable after learning she was a sex offender.”

Louisiana is the only other state in the union which requires sex offender registration for those convicted of custodial interference, and they make an exception when the defendant is the parent of the child whose custody was interfered with.

The sex offender registry is not the answer under any circumstances. It is not found to increase public safety, reduce re-offense, protect future victims, enhance rehabilitation, reduce child sexual abuse, or provide prevention.

How much less of an answer is it when it is used in situations where a defendant has not even been accused or charged with any type of sexual offense whatsoever?

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #16414 Reply
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      skeptical

      I have such mixed feelings about this. I know there is alot wrong with the registry, but I just don’t believe that it does nothing good. I know alot of people are on it that shouldn’t be, but I would rather know who they are and keep my kids away from them all then not know who they are and end up not keeping them away from the one who would really hurt them.

      • #17398 Reply
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        Chris

        The one most likely to hurt your children is someone you already know. They are not on the registry. They have never been arrested for a sex crime. You trust them, and so do your children. They are someone you would leave your child with. And, believe it or not, when your child tells you this person did something bad to them, there will be at least a smidgen of doubt.

      • #17397 Reply
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        Q.A

        What are you doing on this site? Skeptical

        • #17550 Reply
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          Chris

          Isn’t intolerance what has gotten us into this mess to begin with?

    • #17691 Reply
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      R. Arens

      I see a couple obvious problems with it. When every offender regardless of circumstance or tier level congests the registry website, the hard case offenders will remain hidden in plain sight! The next time some kid ends up missing, law enforcement agents end up shaking down 1400 low risk nobodies to get to the few actual possibilities. By then the kid will be dead while they shrug their shoulders and cop out with a “sorry, we did all we could. Damn sex offenders.” Laws like this are a financial drain on the taxpayer, it’s counterproductive and congests the court system with a bunch of rif raf bull s__t that should’ve been settled with a fine you pay by mail. What’s the penalty for not registering with selective service? I bet it’s less than a s/o registry violation. For god sake, it’s a clerical issue, not so much criminal in and of itself when you weigh apples to oranges. They need to ditch the registry and put that tax money into school books for the public schools that keep going under.

      • #18083 Reply
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        Chris

        Agree, except that the saved money should go to sexual abuse prevention programs.

    • #26940 Reply
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      Allie

      These guys that did something stupid and probably never do it again are being shot beat up denied jobs but expected to pay fines or go back to jail. Everything is wrong with it. It doesn’t only affect them but also their families. Get rid of it quick.

    • #27503 Reply
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      Chris

      I say there’s a lot wrong with it but I also agree with some of it. The problem I have is I’m a rso and I made a mistake when I was 19 and went to prison for it and when I got out I had to register for ten years then in 2011 they added 15 more years. I’m the lowest risk they is to reoffend and I was granted not to be managed as a so while I was incarcerated because the corrections facility did not see me as one. Why can’t the Supreme Court see that it causes problems. I can’t find a job so I can take care of my two boys.

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