Nation’s top cops curry favor with voters over safe policies for children

Published 1/10/22 in The Tennessean with a first paragraph adapted to Tennessee. 

By Sandy . . . The attorneys general of 35 of the United States and two territories have signed a letter condemning recent revisions to the American Law Institute’s (ALI) Model Penal Code on sexual crimes. This is contrary to what evidence shows would improve public safety.

Early in 2021 ALI, an influential body comprised of attorneys, judges, and scholars in various fields of research (currently including seven members of the United States Courts of Appeal and Justices on the highest courts of several states), published its recommendations for revising laws dealing with sexual offenses. Being the first update to this section in fifty years, this is long overdue as the body of evidence and documented research around this topic has exploded in the past several decades.

At the heart of any change to the implementation of sexual crime legislation is the desire within us all to keep our children safe from sexual harm. This desire is reflected in the goals of the National Assc. for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) as well as in the ALI updates, all of which are evidence based and reflect several decades of research showing the most effective strategies and best practices in this arena.

Unfortunately, criticism also followed on the heels of ALI’s new recommendations. It came from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, from some law enforcement agencies, and now from the attorneys general in two-thirds of our states. It is worth noting that, in addition to wishing to keep children safe, all of these entities benefit, either financially, politically, or both, from maintaining the status quo. Also worth mentioning is that not once in its five and a half pages does the letter signed by the attorneys general cite any source or even make reference to any evidence that the current laws have proved to be effective in their desired outcomes. Sweeping statements such as, “The proposed changes to the [ALI] model penal code relaxing the sex offender registry would pose a significant risk to the public – especially children,” are made with no evidence whatsoever supporting them.

The changes recommended by ALI revolve around four areas: limiting registerable offenses to the more dangerous ones, providing registry access to law enforcement only, modifying registration terms and abolishing lifetime registration, and abolishing blanket restrictions that curtail all registrants’ rights and freedoms.

The registry as we know it today was designed in the wake of a few, horrific situations where children were abducted and murdered, and it is for such as these that the registry was intended. The similarity between the perpetrators of those crimes and the nearly million people who are listed on sexual offense registries today is non-existent, with children themselves being registered as young as nine for childish, inappropriate behavior. In many states, consensual teenage sexual activity, even teenage “sexting,” are registerable offenses. Law enforcement cannot focus on the few who warrant closer monitoring when the registry is so diluted.

The original registries also were accessible only to law enforcement. This position is in keeping with what research, experts in the field, and clinicians support as best practice in the treatment, management, and prevention of sexual offending. Cases of vigilante action targeting those on the registry, including murder for no reason other than that the individual was a registrant, are directly traceable to the online availability of sexual offense registries. The negative collateral consequences to children of registered parents are many and serious.

Every state has a lifetime registration requirement for some offenses, and for a few states, lifetime is the only option. Sixteen states have no path by which registrants may petition for or be granted early release from registration duty. The policies of the remaining states vary widely from clear and doable to there might as well be none. With a significant number on the registry for life with no path to exit, a considerable number of whom have not reoffended since the initial offense twenty, thirty, or – with retroactive registration applicable – fifty years ago, ALI’s recommendations to remedy this situation are crucial.

Depending on the state or the jurisdiction, those on sexual offense registries are subject to a variety of restrictions. Some of the most common are where they can live, work, and be; the exclusions are generally within so many feet, as high as 3,000, of places such as schools, daycare facilities, and parks. Some statutes include the phrase, “Any place frequented by a minor.” Restriction from any activity connected with Halloween is fairly recent, and it is based on a totally fabricated construct linking sexual harm to children with Halloween. Where they are law, these mandates are enforced as blanket restrictions against all on the registry, even when they are not under community supervision, even when their offense of conviction was not related to a child or minor, and even when there has been no reoffense. This is an incredible waste of resources.

Dr. Gene Katz is Doctor of Management in Criminal Justice, an ABS board-certified sex therapist, and an Associate Professor, College of Security Studies, Colorado Technical University. He has extensive experience working with and treating individuals who have committed sexual crimes. Concerning physical restrictions for registrants, Dr. Katz says, “Quite often, residency restrictions banish registrants from populated areas, forcing them to live far from their homes and families and limiting potential work sites willing to employ them, thereby defeating the goals of probation and parole and other desired rehabilitative outcomes. In addition, proponents of these stark measures cannot provide any credible evidence of public safety benefits; in other words, there are no scientific findings that support these draconian approaches imposed upon those who have been convicted of sexually-based offenses.”

“The American Law Institute,” according to Prof. Ira Ellman, Distinguished Affiliated Scholar,
Center for the Study of Law and Society, University of California, Berkeley, “is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law.”

These recommendations made by them are evidence-based and will improve the law in regard to crimes of a sexual nature and those who commit them. They should be supported by the attorneys general in our states and territories. It is especially ill-fitting that the chief officers in legal matters in their respective states should set themselves against recommendations to laws designed to enhance public safety for all.

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22 Thoughts to “Nation’s top cops curry favor with voters over safe policies for children”

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  1. NH Registrant

    They don’t care about ‘public safety’. It’s about money and politics – as is everything these days. Our country is rapidly sliding down into the gutter.

    In my state, they get a mandatory $50 a year (pay it or go back to jail/prison for non-compliance) from everyone on the Registry. That’s a LOT of free money for the state to do what it pleases with.

    1. MassWolf

      I just never understand the logic behind the rhetoric about it being “all about money.” NARSOL among virtually all other groups opposed to registries will tell you that registries are not cost effective; they are a drain on public funds.
      For example, excluding all law enforcement and judicial expenses, NH has approximately 3,000 registrants and at $50/year it comes to $150,000. That amount would barely cover three employees at the registry office making a rather low salary.
      It’s not about money; it’s about wasting money.

      1. Tired Of Being Mistreated

        It’s on the Other end !!! It’s what the Government pays the “States” to maintain the Registry !!!. It’s what Politicians get PAID to “pass these laws” !. It’s the “Control and Punishment” that the Government has over people that Has PAID THEIR DEBT TO SOCIETY !. The little bit of money raised by registrants forced to pay is NOTHING compared to the MILLIONS AND MILLIONS wasted every year !!.

      2. CJB

        Mass WOlf

        You are incorrect! There are Mandated Federal ‘Dispensaries’ of Monies that are Handed Out to the State and Territorial Governments! Millions and Millions and Millions….(JAG FUNDS, etc)
        ….The Extra Padding that Certain States get is a Registration Fee-which is Illegal and I would never pay it! or maybe pay it in Fake Crypto Crap bit-coin things!

        There are various Templates to view…some are here on NARSOL, some on FAC and other websites detailing with the ‘Fleecing’ of the Taxpayers!

      3. Sandy

        You might want to read this piece I wrote in 2015. A great many people benefit tremendously, and not just financially, from what has been termed “the sexual offense industry.”

    2. Janet Marie Buchmiller

      In south Carolina it’s 250 and a life time registry no matter what

  2. jim

    What these Attorney Generals and Law makers need to realize in this country is that when ” Not If But When” the USA Collapses. They will not be able to hide behind their Bully Badge anymore. I’m making a list.

    1. Derek

      Yep America if it doesn’t return to the constitution for all we won’t have a country soon

      1. Tim in WI

        SCOTUS03 led by Rehnquist had to opportunity to reject blatant and plain use of ex post language in law being applied to those already convicted. This being the exact purpose of Art.1 sec9-10! All of the majority who voted to uphold the electronic regime were in fact of a certain faith. It was not the first time in history that particular religious perspective turned a blind eye and deaf ear to ” necessary ” prescription put forth by national socialist workers party, and bolstered with the pseudo safety dogma and needs assistance to law enforcement. Yes, they turned a blind eye to the obvious written in black ink and on white paper. The results were disastrous then in the 20th century and will be too in the 21st. The good news is there is natural law and balance. Given a former Pope has now being indicted, perhaps the error is coming home to roost in the lap of those who first turned away from basic constitutional protections.

  3. Oswaldo

    The “top cops” don’t have to use facts. All they have to do is use the same old, tired arguments so they can repeat it to their constituency. It amazes me that we require high school and college students to use citations on their term papers, thesis, what have you. But law enforcement, including DA’s, can make bold claims without citing facts. The same hold true for legislators. And the beat goes on…

  4. Larry T

    To the person who denies that it is about the money.
    What you have to understand is that if a state doesn’t enforce the registry, they will lose federal subsidies for their law enforcement departments. Most states do not have the money on their own to support a system that is so burdened by the plethora of draconian laws and statutes. They depend on federal grants and other federal monies just to make payroll and the insurance and employment benefits that have been put in place through the tough on crime and support your police department and they will keep your children safe ploys.
    With the legalization of Marijuana and Canibus products, one of the most popular war on drugs targets has been eliminated. They had to find another crime dejure and “Sex Crimes” fit that bill. Sex crimes are such that they are indefensible. The prosecutor can get any indictment they as for from the secret grand jury and in the federal system, once indicted, you are considered guilty and the burden of proof is shifted onto you and you can’t find any competent attorney to help you. Public Defenders are just there to plea bargain you sentence and once that is done, so are they.
    In one day I witnessed thirty one sex offender cases go through the court in one day and there wasn’t one that took it to trial. Just like my public pretender said ” I know you are innocent but we can’t prove it. ”
    No this is not the system that the general public thinks it is. Perry Mason is dead and buried along with our Constitutional rights and those rights set apart in the Declaration of Independence.
    It’s all about the buck.
    God bless you all.

    1. Derek

      Very well said can’t add a thing sad and true but the federal government have found ways to get police use to violating rights and constitution they set the example hoping states woild follow and they did and the sex offender area was easier than anticipated. It’s kinda like the litmus test of freedom do you believe SO should have there rights yes or no

    2. NH Registrant

      Not only am I forced to pay for the ‘privilege’ (heavy sarcasm) of being on the Registry – and having a target on my back for life. But, I also am forced to pay for my Constitutionally-Guaranteed attorney (public pretender – because they work FOR the state, not YOU) for decades. States get away with their nonsense because, sadly, most people are very ignorant of politics. They want to work, pay the rent, and get plastered on the weekends watching some sporting event. They never care about injustices committed by governments until it finds their way to them. That’s why things never really change.

      NH is stuck on greed and ignorance. If every other state abolished the public registry, NH would be one of a small number of holdouts to the bitter end.

  5. Svejk

    SO’s are an easy target. There is no one in the government who has the testicular fortitude to stand up and defend them from the constant attacks. They are an easy target for everyone due to being on a public registry, or being known in the community.
    One has only to look at the recent proliferation of “memes” in social media exhorting the public to kill pedophiles and sex offenders to see where this is all going. SO’s have been relegated to the trash bin and now are the punching bag for humanity to feel better about itself (think Hitler and the Jews).
    Despite recent, credible research showing that the antiquated recidivism study is woefully incorrect, the nation’s leaders and those in governmental and police positions completely ignore it. After all, if they brought that to the public’s attention, they might be the next target of the lynch mob.
    Don’t believe me? Write a letter, call or visit your state/federal governmental folks in your area and ask them to help. Either your letter/email will “never have arrived,” you won’t be able to speak to them, or you’ll get a lot of lip service from some bozo behind a desk while you can audibly detect the sound of their feet tap-dancing.
    We’re sunk as a society and a nation. I’m out at first opportunity.

  6. mut

    now that its a mini industry its economically engrained as job security for bumms who insist we ‘do as they say, not as they do’

  7. Tj

    Mississippi make it near impossible to have a life after release. All sex charges are consider violent. It is also near impossible after having been on the registry for 25 yrs one can afford let alone fight to get removed from the registry. 99% of the lawyers I have spoken with have never seen anyone removed.

  8. Aj

    This article spurred a great deal of responses. All have legitimate concerns. I might point out to a few who feel that money is not the issue. In the great state of Wisconsin, which is listed in the top 5 for being the toughest on offenders, they have 25,000 offenders. Believe the youngest is 10 yrs. Old. This state began it’s registry in 1997. At first it was a simple idea. Register for 10 yrs or your length of parole. But within a year or two the 50.00 dollar a year fee kicked in. All legalized by the courts of course. Then in 2000 under clinton, it went to 100.00 dollars a year, and everyone went to lifetime. That’s only 2.5 million a year. Then some legislators got a real good money maker going. Called lifetime GPS tracking. That now costs the offenders 240.00 dollars a month. They now pull from about 20,000 individuals 4,800,00.00 per month. That is a average of 57,600,000.00 per year. Add that 2.5 million to that for the required fees just to keep us on the registry. Which was passed to offset the cost of the registry. I won’t even get into the costs of treatment programs, court costs, victim’s fees etc. Then our federal government gives them money in subsidies of various types. Just to keep the registry. Failure means no police,road money etc. If we did that we would be charged with extortion. So if you really believe it isn’t about money. Dig a bit deeper my friends. If ANYONE can possibly even find how much the feds actually give the states please let us know. Because i get very vague details on any of it. Reason? Tied into highway subsidies, police and safety subsidies. I might add i have been dealing with registry since its inception which was 15 years after my crime.

  9. Facts should matter

    The registry is like “Santa Claus” for parents.It gives them aid and comfort in a fairy tale-based belief system. If people like lies better than truth, you can’t change their minds because of that pesky little thing called an ego that’s tied to the illusion of control.

    It’s easier for society to remain on the hate train than it is to disembark and admit they made an error, or admit wrongdoing.

    1. Tim in WI

      Wisconsin chose Dec.25, 1993 for qualifying convictions in the Who must register section in statute:301.45(a) a. However the law was inked by governor in August 1995. Kinda of like backdating a check.

  10. WeArethePeople

    There needs to be changes made with the sex offender laws, we all know that. It sounds like they are trying to make changes, but what would be the right change. 50 years is a long time! I don’t know how to help besides sit here and wish things were beter for my loved one. I hoped by joining Narsol that you would be able to glide me and us, to tell us who to call, or what to say. I love what you are doing and thanks for telling us about it. I am sorry a lot of it I don’t understand, just like the court system its like a different language. I feel I need a basic 101 course.

    1. Larry T

      You have to remember that the majority of people suffer from cognitive dissonance. We grew up with the belief system that the police were there to help, that the courts were just and only bad people were in prison.
      We walked around believing these lies as truth.
      Until we experienced the reality for ourselves, no one could have convinced us otherwise.
      I grew up with a saying from my mother that expresses this condition, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”
      It isn’t just the general public, but most of the lawmakers and enforcement personnel suffer from this.
      Some one said that they ignore the current studies. The propaganda that they are trained with reinforced the delusion and they refuse to even consider that they may have been taught incorrect information.
      I just made a critical mistake by engaging in a brief conversation about this subject with my PO. Now she sees a need to meet with my counselor and shrink over her concerns for my recovery.
      I learned to never be open with the authorities.
      Live and learn.

  11. mm8844

    They’re not going to be able to avoid the great changes coming.
    The country’s at the brink of destruction, and if they don’t loosen the chains and direct their focus where it matters, all is lost. For everyone!
    The country is at war with itself, and they better wake up and smell the coffee.