On the registry? Do you know everything you should?

By Sandy . . . In a recent column, Dear Abby makes the unqualified statement that a person with a Level 3 or Tier 3 designation on the sexual offense registry means that the individual is “. . . the most dangerous and most likely to reoffend.”

From those in the know, this drew immediate criticism and protest.

In 2003, Joe* was put on the registry in Minnesota as a Level 1 with a misdemeanor sexual charge. There were no repeat offenses and no registry violations. When the Adam Walsh Act became law there, it dictated the offense levels for various offenses, and Joe’s Level 1 offense was immediately classified a Level 3. Joe is the same person he was. It is his label that changed. He is no more dangerous or likely to offend than he was when he was Level 1.

John* was put on the Texas registry in 1996 as a Level 3 offender for sexual assault of a child. John was a high school senior; his victim was Mary*, his 15-year-old sophomore girlfriend. Many states have dispensed with what used to be called “statutory rape,” and Texas law, and that of other states, dictates that any sexual assault charge involving a child – anyone under the age of consent – is a Level 3. John and Mary have now been married twenty years and are raising four children together. He was never dangerous.

In a few states, a registrant who moves in from another state is given the highest designation and most stringent reporting conditions. A level 3 risk level does NOT automatically mean that the registrant is dangerous or of a high risk to reoffend, nor is the conundrum about what a level 3 means the only complexity and absurdity regarding the regulations of the sexual offense registry.

Paul* lives in Missouri and has grandchildren. Paul can help his grandchildren carve a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern out in his yard all day long on October 30 without breaking any laws. He can do the same on November 1. Actually, he can engage in that activity 364 days of the year should he wish. But should he take knife in hand and assault a pumpkin outside of his home on October 31, he will have committed a crime. Should he turn on the outside light after 5 p.m. so that he can see the pumpkin better, he will have committed a crime. And should he grow weary of the pumpkin and take a stroll around the block, or even around his house, between 5 and 10:30 p.m., he will have committed a crime.

The sex offender registry has spawned many things, none of them beneficial to actual safety. It has even created its own little group of crimes and offenses, labeled together as failure to comply. These crimes are committed in a variety of ways, depending on the state and jurisdiction, from total absconding to being a day late in updating information. And the penalties vary widely also. For simple tardiness in reporting a change in address or a new car, in some states the penalty is relatively minor.

Matt*, however, lives in Texas. Due to traveling and confusion of dates, he was several days late reporting a new address after he moved. He was arrested at the police department while he was there attempting to do that very thing. If he had been convicted, the consequences of his failure to comply charge would have been a new sexual offense on his record, a hefty fine, and a return to prison for up to five years.

A Vermonter on the registry there who fails to comply with any aspect of registry requirements for more than five days faces five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.

For offenses adjudicated federally, a federal failure to comply conviction can result in up to ten years in prison.

Writing for The Appeal, Josh Vaughn found, “In one Pennsylvania county, more than three times as many people on the registry were charged in 2016 with failing to follow registry requirements than were charged with a new sexual offense.”

Whether deciphering what the levels mean, figuring out the regulations governing those on the registry at Halloween – or, in Louisiana, at Mardi Gras, Easter, Christmas, or any other recognized holiday,  where state law prohibits everyone on the registry from giving gifts or candy to children under 18 for any of these holidays – or living one’s life in fear of violating any of the myriad federal, state, county, or local restrictions, some of which even the authorities do not know, one thing is sure.

If you are on a sex offender registry and you think you know what is expected of you under all circumstances and what the penalties are if you deviate – you are probably wrong.

*Names have been changed.

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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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    • #49147 Reply
      Michael Duckworth

      I am on the registry with no new offenses and no violations. When Michigan changed its laws I went from 25 years on the registry to LIFE. Talk about a heartbreak, I strive to prove to society that I am not the man that I have been labeled. I keep my nose to the grindstone and walk on the high road to prove my character.

      • #50288 Reply

        Does v. Snyder, 6th circuit (2016). Plenty of information available.

    • #49158 Reply

      My case is very well known in Pennsylvania. At 19, I got my girlfriend pregnant. She was 15.. We got married with parental consent when she turned 16. We had 3 children and were married 14 1/2 years.

      One day she met a man online and she moved in with him. He was a PA State Trooper and after arguing about child custody (He was not happy about every weekend was mine Court Ordered) he himself arrested me for Aggravated Indecent Assault, Indecent Assault, Corruption of minors FOR MY WIFE when she was 15 and pregnant.

      I was sent to county jail with $500,000 bail.

      I was told that I was looking at minimum 20-40 years or I could ple bargain and get 4 years.

      I was thinking okay, 4 years, I already have a year in, that won;t be as bad as 20-40. So I took the plea bargain.

      I then found out that it was 4 years minimum and 8 years maximum.

      I found out while in prison that my public defender was BEST FRIENDS with the arresting officer (my wife’s new boyfriend).
      It get’s better.

      Then I found out my charges were from 1994, 2 years before Pa Megan’s Law even started AND I also found out that 2 of the charges were BLOCKED by 42 Pa Cs 5552 (Statute of Limitations).

      I put in my PCRA.

      The Judge Masland of Cumberland County Pennsylvania refused to file his opinion in the case. He has had SEVERAL complaints about him regarding his personal treatment of sex offenders in Court lodged against him with the PA Ethics Board.

      I did a writ of habeaus corpus against him to file his opinion, Superior Court GRANTED it and ORDERED him to write an opinion. He did. 4 days after my maximum sentence expired. making it in Pennsylvania a MOOT point.

      I appealed to PA Supreme Court who ruled that since the sentence expired they had no jurisdiction BUT they did AGREE that the entire case should have been thrown out.

      I am now on registry for LIFE because I married my wife and had 3 kids.

      That’s Pennsylvania justice.

    • #49347 Reply
      Lawrence Rider

      Why aren’t ‘civil’ registration laws ‘servitude’ prohibited by the 13th Amendment?

      It would cost the state a lot of money to track me around a 48 hour clock to keep my personal information current. Forcing me to supply data for free is unquestionably ‘exploitation.’

      Registration laws don’t seem to qualify as an exception since they do not apply to the general public, and known exceptions like jury duty and military conscription are compensated. Not nearly enough but that’s another problem.

      Can’t seem to get an answer. Civilians seem to think I deserve punishment. Officials say little if anything of course.

      Human Rights Defense Center says my question is not in their area of expertise and suggested I contact NARSOL.

      I think it applies to all ex-felons required to register, not just sex offenders, which usually starts by throwing a person in a cage and advising the person he will never get out unless he participates in a plea bargain process that more often than not surreptitiously operates to strip the person of civil rights. Years later the disenfranchised person is told he will be put back in a cage or killed unless he complies with ‘civil’ ex-felon registration laws.

      I fairly estimate the value of registration to government to exceed $250,000 per year, per individual, as the approximate cost to government of acquiring the needed information by alternate means, at its own expense.

      So there it is, again, which sounds a lot like human trafficking to me. I hope it generates some discussion since the 13th Amendment is everybody’s protection against forced labor and services, not just ex-felons.

      • #49563 Reply

        I knew a family that was so Pro registry it was not funny. They would torment the crap out of offenders they would run into. The local police would give them warnings to stop. Do you know when they stopped? When their son was placed on the registry. He was 2 weeks too old. Just two weeks!!!! They quickly realized those “monsters” weren’t the monsters they thought they were after all.

    • #49367 Reply

      Does anyone realize that George w. Bush IS a sex offenderhe married his wife Barbara and she was 16 and George was 21yr old
      . In 1945, he married Barbara Pierce. She was 16 years old and he was 21. The couple had six children, four sons and two daughters.
      So lets arrest George W. Bush

      • #49480 Reply

        I think you’re right.
        Age of consent in Arizona is 18 but 16 in Nevada. So what they are doing in Nevada is a crime in Arizona but nobody will be prosecuted or placed on the registry for any of that open child molestation.
        Federal laws are not suppose to apply by such geographic happenstance. That defeats a laws intent and denies equal protection, privileges and immunities, civil rights.

    • #49483 Reply

      Once upon a time, a guygal named Hoober wanted to build a huge data bank. Problem was he had no data for that bank. He thought about hiring news officers to collect data but the godfathers would not approve that, nor for the enlistment of private detectives. The cost would have been enormous. But then someone said: let’s make ex felons supply the data for free!
      The End.

    • #49482 Reply

      If John Walsh and co. wanted to extract revenge through servitude under ex felon registration laws they should have sought to repeal the 13th Amendment first.

    • #49481 Reply

      Many sex crime convictions are for the same species of crime the 13th Amendment prohibits: involuntary servitude.
      If congress wanted to impose a civil form of servitude it should have amended the constitution before embarking on a crime spree.

    • #54312 Reply
      Dallas Shawver

      Woman meets a great hard working fun guy. Falls in love. Learns he is on the registry. She leaves. Hearts are broken. LLives are torn apart. Damn shame. So lets knock off the stupid shit and move to a remote piece of property and remove ourselves from society. SEE YA!!!!!! DONE.

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