You are here

Sex offender registries: A legacy of fear

By Steve Yoder . . . Quentin (not his real name) was convicted eight years ago of child pornography possession in Florida. He served his time and has since moved to another state. But his sentence required his photo and other personal details to appear on Florida’s sex offender registry, and there they will stay for the rest of his life, even if he never sets foot in the state again.

The state’s registry is padded with thousands of Quentins, people who don’t live in Florida. Under a change to state law passed this spring, there will soon be more: Starting July 1, out-of-state registrants who visit for at least three days (down from five) must go to a sheriff’s office to have their personal details added to Florida’s list. If they don’t, they face a third-degree felony.

Rules like that aren’t unique—22 other states keep out-of-state visitors on their registries for life, according to a study released last November. It’s one reason state lists misrepresent the actual number of people with sex-crime records living in communities. As already-bloated lists keep ballooning, they feed the impression of a growing population of dangerous people who require ever-more-extreme laws to monitor and control.

On May 30, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) released its latest nationwide count of names on state sex offender registries. For the first time ever, the total was more than 900,000. NCMEC spokesperson Staca Shehan told The Appeal the organization doesn’t share data on growth trends because changes in state laws and other anomalies can make it difficult to accurately compare the data across years. But calculations by William Dobbs of Dobbs Wire, who tracks sex-offender registry developments nationwide, show a 3 percent jump in the nationwide number in the last six months. That’s slightly faster than in the past; increases have fluctuated between about 3 and 5 percent annually since 2007. Even if the growth rate returns to that historical average, by 2021 more than a million names will be on registries.

Many of those entries are duplicates like Quentin or represent people who are not actually part of a state’s population for some other reason. In a 2014 study in the journal Crime & Delinquencya research team found that in the 42 states and two territories studied, 19 percent of those on registries were still behind bars, 9 percent lived out of state, and 3 percent had been deported. Of Florida’s 55,000 registrants at the time, more than 31,000 were in one of those three categories. “It’s a concern of ours,” Shehan said of problems with the count. She says NCMEC has no way of knowing how often an offender shows up on multiple state lists. “So that means then there’s duplicated offenders in our grand total,” she said. “And we have no way of knowing how often that happens.”

Dobbs, an adviser to the Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center affiliated with the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, says the inaccuracies are symptoms of a malignant logic at the heart of registries: that people who have served their time should be put on public lists because of the ineffable risk of what they might do in the future. Problems with registries can’t be fixed, he says, because the concept itself is a “broken” one. “It turns people into suspects forever—or at least as long as they’re on it,” he said. “The politicians have created this giant naming-and-shaming train and are fueling it with fear.”

One of Quentin’s cousins is getting married in October and invited him to be in the wedding in Florida, says Quentin’s mother. But to participate in the various events, he would need to stay more than three days—meaning a trip to the local sheriff’s office to get a new photo taken and have the address where he’s staying and the license plates of any cars he will drive added to Florida’s public registry. So Quentin is skipping the wedding.

Read the full piece at The Appeal

Help us reach more people by Sharing or Liking this post.
EMAIL
Facebook
Google+
https://narsol.org/2018/07/sex-offender-registries-a-legacy-of-fear/
PINTEREST
LINKEDIN
YOUTUBE
RSS
SHARE

This topic contains 13 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Tim L 1 month, 4 weeks ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #43101 Reply

    Tired

    Just as a point of reference, the states get Federal Money for the folks on their registries. The more people on, the more money they get.

    • #46676 Reply

      ChrisMass

      Why is there not a unified Sex Offender Legislation Defense organization solely for New York State?

  • #43245 Reply

    Jim

    Here’s a question. What if, after you server your time and apply to get off the registry in the state you’re currently residing in early, and it’s approved by that state, what can be done about you being on another’s state registry? I live and will be living in my state for the foreseeable future, but I lived in the Archaic state of NC for about 2 weeks and on their list, I am a life time but on my state, I’m a tier 1? Can I just write to the state of confusion that is NC’s Attorney General and demand to be taken off the list? What’s the process after the state your are in says you are no longer needed to register? I was kicked out of NC because I registered my son at the school and my “crime” wasn’t against a child. But as before mentioned in the court cases form another article, NC is a lump them all together kind of place. I don’t want to have the fear of not being able to travel the country because of this oversight. Just abolish the registry all together! Any advise would help.

    • #44464 Reply

      Glen

      Jim,
      I don’t think it’s clear at all how to handle a case like that. I have a similar situation. In SC where my original charge occured, I’m subject to lifetime. Additionally, SC recently did away with Tier 1. They simply moved all tier 1s up to Tier 2. It’s crazy.

      I now live in NC and have about 4 years before I’m eligible to petition for removal in NC. Assuming that could happen, then does SC stay valid for life? And, then there is the National database…I have no idea if there is even a procedure. It’s an endless riddle. Let me know if you find anything that clears it up.

    • #46263 Reply

      Ed

      I’m not a lawyer (I don’t even play one on TV), so don’t take my perspective as gospel. I suspect that you are subject to the laws of each state. If a state has no mechanism for removing a non-resident from the registry, you are probably out of luck. It is not punishment (yeah right), it is considered merely regulatory.

  • #43267 Reply

    Saddles

    Their is nothing to fear but fear itself as one President said and yes this sex offender can be a nightmare if one lets it and I’m trying not to let it but the stigma grows it seems on a person expecally caught up this way as some are. Protecting and servicing I have no problem with that but a lot of this internet stuff is scary. Even the girl and boyfriend hands off is scary as one doesn’t know who’s gonna say I’ve had enough and first thing you know your in front of the judge. So if its a no touching women kids or anything like that than courts wanting to control one’s life with this sex thing that some induce with this opportunity or one is either getting to physical on the dance floor of life. The thing is to combat it. Cool your jets.

    I know we all get upset over all this but its not worth it as a lot of it will be over soon. Correcting evil is good but who’s giving to start with. We all have principals.

  • #43335 Reply

    Tim

    How many besides myself are sick of reading the same old crap post after post. Reality is the registry is never going to go away. Laws are going to get more strict and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. Repeat: NOTHING! The Supreme Court agrees that sex offenders are scum and should never be free and that’s the way it’s going to stay. I hate sounding like Debbie downer but I see no signs the laws are ever going to change. Control,control,control, that’s what they want and that’s what they have. I’ve been following Narsol for years and donate when I can because I still want to try to hold on to some type of hope. Without hope I see no sense to go on living. My life has sucked since the age of 9 being sexually abused by a neighbor friend whom was 47. This went on for 6 years of my young life. I’m on ssd due to PTSD. I’M 59 yrs old now. My daughter was molested when she was about the same age by my own uncle for years of her life. Imagine how i felt after finding this out. 3 yrs after finding that out i found out he took pictures of him abusing her and posted those pictures to the internet. Caught up in the mental torment of our abuse and yrs of pts due to extreme sexual abuse I couldn’t take the thoughts of my daughter being put on the internet. I had to protect her and went looking for those pictures to destroy them. Not in my right mind, I believed I could find and delete them. Needless to say I was caught with child pornography on my computer. I never denied that. However through my search I did find myself on there with the guy that molested me. Somehow he manage to sell or gave away the films and pictures he took of our encounters. Even being that they were taken in the 70s they still managed to make it on the internet this many years later. I have never been in trouble with the law in any other way. I did my 3 years probation, 3 years sex offender classes, lost my wife of 30 years to cancer while being kicked out of my house because my grandsons and teenage son lived at home. After my wife died my 15 yr old son was left at home to take care of himself and go to school on his own. The lawyer I had never used my ptsd as a defense. Which is the number 1 defense used to prove insanity or temporarily insanity. Which I have documented proof of since 1998. Life has sucked as you can see and this is what it is. I’m stuck living the rest of my life as a sex offender when i offended against nobody but was the one who was raped and tortured for 6 long years. No end in sight for me unless i chose to end it. Yet im the one paying for the crimes against me and my daughter. No justice. Just these laws that will only get harder to live with.
    Im calling it quits in 1 more yr if nothing has changed. Life on the registry isnt worth it to me. This isnt a life,its torture and i had enough of that as a child. For them to say this isn’t more punishment, I say B/S to them. They can all kiss my back side, I’m not playing your games any longer. I’ve nothing to look forward to, I wake up miserable and I go to bed miserable. 20 more yrs of this crap? No way in hell.

    • #43528 Reply

      NH Registrant

      Tim:

      I’m kind of in the same position as you and I feel pretty much the same way. I, too was sexually abused by a neighbor. It happened when I was 5 and it was a teenager girl who did it.

      I live with an elderly parent in our family home that we’ve lived in for 30+ years. I’m also on SS due to PTSD and a stroke I had in 2006. I, too, was convicted of possession of images. The whole thing was a set-up. My ex-wife was involved with it so she could get custody of our youngest daughter. So, she worked on her along with ‘social services’ and had her accuse me of touching her. I was cleared of that by an investigation the first time she made the accusation. The 2nd time, my daughter was in touch with my ex-wife a lot more than usual and suddenly images were on my computer – which she had access to. My ex-wife wanted to make sure I got in trouble for SOMETHING so she could get custody. My daughter reported me to the police and, sure enough, my house was invaded by a gang of police who got me to go out into the street, surrounded me, and beat the tar out of me (a disabled person) – all in front of my daughter and the social worker who took her away. My ex didn’t end up getting custody because she was charged with neglect in the past (which is why I had custody in the first place). So, she lost – but ended up ruining my life anyway for revenge.

      My daughter was worked on by CPS some more and she was brainwashed into thinking I did something to her. She accused me again and a grand jury said I was completely innocent of it because of the former investigation which found that I was innocent of it before – which CPS tried to bury. Luckily, I had a competent public defender who pointed that out! But, he couldn’t save me from the possession charge and I spent 3 years in prison looking over my shoulder constantly while getting assaulted on a regular basis while the guards looked the other way.

      I got out years ago and was on parole for a few years – which felt like prison on the outside. I had to go through mandatory ‘treatment’ which I had to pay for out of pocket because it was so crooked that they don’t accept medical insurance. They didn’t want a paper trail. You can imagine why.

      Once Parole was over, I still was on the registry and will be for the rest of my life. I have to go register twice a year and I have to pay for the privilege. Also, the state takes part of my disability to pay for my constitutionally-guaranteed, free-of-charge, public defender. They will be taking money from me for the next 20 years to pay for the free lawyer. Do I have a say in that? Nope. They deny ALL requests to claim hardship unless you’re homeless. Second chance? Nope. We get no second chances. We’re marked for life with our information and picture, along with a map to our homes, for all the world to see. Anyone can get to us at any time for the rest of our lives.

      So, living with an elderly parent means my parent isn’t going to be around for the long haul. So, when my parent passes, I can’t support the house on my measly $700 a month in social security. So, I’ll be done. I’ll lose the house and have to move. But, move WHERE? It’s nearly impossible to find housing when you’re on the registry. And being disabled, how would I move? I can’t do the heavy lifting. I can’t afford to pay anyone to help me. What would I do? So, when my parent passes, my life will effectively be over as well – all because I’m on this registry and marked for life while trying desperately to live off of the pithy SS money.

      So, I feel EXACTLY like you do. It’s hell and I honestly don’t know what to do about it either.

  • #43386 Reply

    Saddles

    Tim and all you all that fear all this sex registry. I hate to say this but does fear bring one more day onto your life. I know I talked about the saying of the president but he was talking about the country and trying to bring “positive” things back to scared american people. Narsol is trying to help do that with their team. Now there is pro’s and con’s for any organization but helping others is a Godsend. So you tell me can a man justify himself after the fact. Every situation is different with the sex ordeal. Basically its taking advantage of another whether their are 5 years old or 55 years old.
    Some people are into porno or have some on their computer. Well if you get entangled in say a internet scam and they check your computer than thats another charge. Now if your mindset is to go out daily and streak in your tennis shoes than they call you the streak or a freak. You cuss out someone thats verbal abuse and when police catch wind of this its dollar signs for them and they want to protect but the question is were you protecting yourself. A lot of you all on here have been taken advantaged of but one has to be strong. Look at some of the people on the NARSOL team a lot of them were in or are still in this situation but they are using a negative and turning it into a positive by helping others, giving support, at times maybe Christian advice for those who want to seek it. See people look on the outside of the person and not on the inside.
    Sure we can forgive if we all have good hearts. If you think everybody is a goodie too shoes than think again. Their are a lot of people in this world that are not caring they think more about themself than others and their are some that care such as NARSOL and yes we all look for hope and true principals. If one can correct themself than they can work on correcting others, but still remember we are all human and loving thy neighbor is pretty darn good to me. Fear is a negative factor.

    • #44076 Reply

      Glen

      Saddles,

      I agree. While, I well understand the others frustrations, positive things are beginning to happen. I believe we have nearly reached the peak of this thing.

      After Smith vs. DOE Alaska, the government did what it alway does when SCOTUS sides against personal liberties; it ran away with legislating and applying even more unjust laws. What we’ve witnessed is somewhat similar to the old Jim Crow laws that were rapidly enacted by legislaters after what was another historically wrong SCOTUS decision.

      The segment of society now affected directly by these unjust draconian registry laws has grown to nearly 1 million citizens, not to mention the millions more family members, friends, and supporters that have experienced the negative affects of the registry. Acknowledgement that the registry is not effective, and it’s high financial burden is also growing. Additionally, researchers and courts are beginning to weigh in. Major court decisions from the 6th & 10th circuits (And SCOTUS’s refusal to overturn one of them) should provide us with hope that tide appears to be turning. And, we also now see NARSOL presenting 3 outstanding federal cases here in the 4th circuit. Good things are happening, albeit at the slow pace of the wheels of justice. But for so long nothing was happening. Point is, we are in much better position now than we were. The courts will ultimately correct this.

  • #44657 Reply

    David

    I thought I was overly negative but sheesh. I was twenty (16 years ago) and had consensual sex with someone I met at a coffee shop…who turned out to be a runaway 15 year old … In Florida (ie just f Florida, seriously state is terrible towards people). Anyway, now I’m in Virginia, starting next year I can petition to get off…regardless of how long that fight takes me I don’t see how y’all can be so certain things won’t change. I was around when RSOL, SOSEN, and So hopefully all started…when it truly looked hopeless. When the idea of surpreme courts ruling residency restrictions unconstitutional would have been laughed at, or Pennsylvania ruling retroactive changes to a registry unconstitutional…and Colorado’s ongoing battle. Back then no one, other than sex offenders and their spouses, believed stranger danger was misrepresented, people living under a bridge was wrong, or that hey maybe job info shouldn’t be on the list cause unemployed offenders have worse recidivism.. all that’s changed. It has failed in Virginia thus far, but every legislative year an attempt to remove employment info surfaces, courts have changed view, the ratio of sex offenders monster stories vs it’s gone to o far isn’t as one sided anymore…it’s slow. It’s painful. It sucks, but the tides ARE changing. No, the registry isn’t likely to fall in 2019, or 2020…but watch…it is changing, it will change. I truly believe that. In 16 years I’ve watched public support for registration fall from 95+% to just over 60. I’ve seen study after study battle the myths. I’ve gone from suicidal (literally) to believing that at some point in my life I’ll live without this list hounding me. No it won’t be quick or easy, but changes are happening…my eyes are wide open. I’m not a member here…don’t intend on becoming one, but if y’all keep this things will never change attitude-youll be right. Things won’t change if we believe they won’t…what we send out we get back. I believe things will change….which I’ve only started believing the last couple years…keep your chins up, cause change won’t come without a fight.

  • #44745 Reply

    Timothy D.A. Lawver

    The legacy being:
    America was turned from the land of the free and home of the brave into the land of the regulated and home of the meek.

    • #44826 Reply

      Glen

      Timothy,

      Sadly, that’s where we are now…The “Great Experiment” has seemingly turned into the “Nuclear Lab Accident”.

      The very things the Founders were trying to prevent via clear constitutional black & white laws have been turned upside down using “Grey interpretations” by the courts and legislators. By way of the constitution, were given a road map with clear directions; in spite of that, everytime we have come to a fork in the road we’ve chosen to go a different way than the map instructed. And, now…I fear we are lost.

      • #45069 Reply

        Tim L

        Just for perspective clearing Glen. Judges by definition are followers and not leaders. I believe the blaming of judges has limitations and much of the animus expressed by registrants is mostly misplaced. By default their hands are tied precisely because they MUST follow their leadership. Congress makes law judges inspect them for constitutional flaw. They believe it works and stand on precedent

Reply To: Sex offender registries: A legacy of fear
We welcome a lively discussion with all view points provided that they stay on topic - keeping in mind...

  • *You must check the "I am not a robot" box and follow the recaptcha instructions.
  • *Your submission must be approved by a NARSOL moderator.
  • *Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  • *Excessively long replies will be rejected, without explanation.
  • *Be polite and courteous. This is a public forum.
  • *Do not post in ALL CAPS.
  • *Stay on topic.
  • *Do not post links or email addresses..
  • *Please enter a name that does not contain links to other websites.
Your information:





<a href="" title="" rel="" target=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <pre> <em> <strong> <del datetime=""> <ul> <ol start=""> <li> <img src="" border="" alt="" height="" width="">