Current sexual offense registration and notification policies are nothing but “window-dressing”

[D]o registration and notification policies actually deter individuals inclined to commit sexual offenses and protect citizens?

A new study of ours shows that these policies are not effective in deterring crime or protecting citizens. We summarized 25 years of research and 474,640 formerly incarcerated sex offenders. We found that such policies do not reduce sexual or non-sexual recidivism.

If the policies are ineffective, then why do we have them?

These policies exist as a governmental response to community fear and outrage. There is political pressure to increase public safety. The problem is that these laws were enacted very quickly after child murder cases and became wide-reaching governmental mandates without research to back their existence and effectiveness. Fast forward 25 years, and the public and politicians are relying on window-dressing to feel safe.

Read the full piece here at the Tampa Bay Times.

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5 Thoughts to “Current sexual offense registration and notification policies are nothing but “window-dressing””

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  1. TS

    This is an excellent read and would be a great topic/group of people for a workshop next year at the NARSOL conf, IMHO.

  2. H n H

    Why do we have them? Because shaming/shunning/ostracizing individuals has been skirted around by lawmakers looking for easy elective votes. Do a search on the tube of you regarding the harm shunning does to a person. Once you learn the psychological damage to a person, you’ll quickly see the registry is 1000% punishment. I don’t buy the argument that “well, you harmed a child, so you get what you deserve” mentality either. If someone is found guilty of a sex crime, what’s the point of prison if they’re just going to be let out in a few years and shunned from society for the remainder of their life? Prison is punishment, if you served your time, you paid for your “crime”…. move on with your life. However the Registry and lifetime parole/probation makes that impossible.

    It’s my opinion that sex crimes will never go away. We’ll never “solve” everything. It’s a human issue. I think the laws have been blown so far out of proportion, there isn’t any way all these laws will do anything or prevent anything from causing harm to a child. My opinion (If NARSOL allows this post) is that judges need to have mandatory minimums repealed in sex crime cases. What constitutes a grave “trauma” to one individual who is 14 or 15 may have been the result of forced or unwilling consent. In another case, the individual the court labels as a victim may be 100% complicit in the events and may have gone out of their way to make whatever events happen they way they wanted. What happens in such cases? They’re lumped in with the same “trauma”, to extract as much state manufactured harm as possible. This is NOT right!, yet, it keeps the system going more and more, feeding on itself.

    I sincerely hope NARSOL will take an initiative to reevaluate sex laws. I’ve said it on here before, I don’t condone abolishing the age of consent, however I do think beyond a certain age, instead of a blanket “consent” being black and white (i.e. turned on at the stroke of midnight on a persons 16th or 18th birthday), it needs to be determined by people looking at the facts of each case including the maturity of those the state labels as victims. In many cases, having everything brought into a courtroom causes far more harm and lifetime trauma than the original event to begin with. If consent was violated, then that needs to be addressed firstly by the victim and what they want, then lastly if it’s determined they have been harmed and suffered beyond the ability to address the matter themselves, then the courts can take over. I seen a sign once in a parking lot saying “backing in unlawful”. The same needs to be held true for all these sex cases. At a certain point, activity needs to be unlawful, but not raised to the point of illegality so severe as to be worse than murder. This unbridled definition of sexual crimes has only allowed lawmakers to have a field day with ever expanding powers, which will never end.

    1. The King of Facebook

      So poignant.
      The registry exists because of a governmental knee-jerk response to a conflated
      community fear and outrage over rare and heinous events perpetrated by a small percentage of the population.

      1. Tim in WI

        I cannot by the kneejerk part of your comment. Fact is ALL 50 states enacted a database regime of their own Making. Given that all 50 Congresses also applicated by law to the already convicted suggests a larger, well organized plan with respect to the collateral applications of the same machine tech to government reach. There is a necessary distinction to be made between the people’s operating a database, versus the people making indentured servants of themselves to the machine infrastructure. Simply put, conditions that resemble slavery and\or indentured servitude are indeed cruel and unusual and must be considered “a punishment” as read in the 13th amendment. Who would benefit most from such the human perception of a clear wrong if not the purveyors of the machines use itself. What difference indeed, especially as a means of production. If no liberty at stake; who would complain? – J. P. Steven (1998)

  3. ED

    The “relying on window-dressing to feel safe” is known as the “illusion of security”. It’s an important part of human society to avoid mass panic because mass panic causes more problems than the original problem which led to it. Thing is, once we use “illusion of security” to ensure we avoid mass panic, we should follow up with doing something actually helpful about the original problem.

    And, of course, making these registries is a foolish way to maintain an “illusion of security”. They could be working on the real problem and presenting that as they go to show something is being done, for real, and things are getting better over time.