In 2006 the Adam Walsh Act was enacted into law. It made fundamental changes to the sex offender registry both federally and in state jurisdictions. It classifies sex offenders into three tiers based on their offense instead of the old system where they were classified based on risk of reoffense. There is also additional information that must be provided by sex offenders such as place of employment and email addresses.
First of all how will law enforcement monitor every single sex offender’s email address? Seems to me that for one this violates right to privacy laws as well as many terms of service of email companies. In most of the terms of service there are clauses that state a person’s information will not be disclosed unless law enforcement issues a subpoena or warrant. So are law enforcement agencies going to issue subpoenas for every single sex offenders email in the country? According to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children there were 728,435 registered sex offenders in the United States and its territories as of 2010. Monitoring all those emails is really an impossible task.
In Michigan alone there were 46,635 sex offenders. Obviously these numbers have since gone up with all the new convictions and lack of offenders leaving the list. This has become a modern day witch hunt. Though some offenders certainly do deserve to be monitored and restricted there are others who have no business being on the registry. A person can be put on the registry for anything these days. From peeing in public to having consensual sex with someone two or three years younger than you. Thankfully in Michigan the “Romeo and Juliet” cases are being removed from the registry.
Another issue with the registry is making it public. Most people say that this is a good thing because people can monitor these offenders and help law enforcement. The problem is that people make false reports all the time and treat sex offenders like lepers. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, doesn’t even have a public registry. Only law enforcement knows who is a sex offender just like any other crime. Law enforcement is finding that this is the best and most successful approach to the sex offender problem. Michigan has even invited consultants from Canada to talk about Canada’s sex offender registry and its possible implementation in the U.S.
The whole sex offender issue has really just become a way for politicians to make it look like they are actually doing something. Most of the provisions of the registry and unenforceable due to the high number of offenders on the registry as well as some of the ridiculous guidelines. One ridiculous guideline is prohibiting non-child sex offenders from living or loitering within 1,000 feet of a school zone. This would be crimes like adult on adult rape, attempted rape, peeing in public, and other such crimes. How does it make sense to prohibit a non-child sex offender from being around a school? If the person had a child they couldn’t go to any of their sporting events or other school functions and yet are not threat to children.
Politicians need to stop inciting public fear just so they can keep their jobs. All they are doing is stirring up the public and then passing legislation that really can’t do anything but bind up the system more than it already is. Law enforcement officials are already overburdened without the resources to effectively monitor those that actually need it. The AWA legislation makes it much more difficult to monitor those that are actually dangerous. The system is going to be even more overburdened.
The system obviously needs reform. The public registry should be completely done away with and offenders should be put on the list on a case by case basis rather than just for their offense. Also no one under 18 should be put on the list. Texas currently has offenders on their list as young as 10. This is ridiculous. Also I think the registration times should be greatly reduced. I think that only the most serious and dangerous offenders should have to register for life. Others should only have to register for possibly 5 years up to 25 years in 5 year increments depending on crime as well as risk.
According to the Department of Justice the average rate of recidivism among all sex offenders since 1983 has been 9%. For all other felonies the average rate of recidivism has been 42%. So why the discrepancy in monitoring and restrictions? To be honest its all about the money. If it wasn’t then why is federal money tied to states passing the AWA legislation? A few select people raise hell about sex offenders and because their voices are loud politicians listen and use the issue as a political tool. Politicians always want to look as if they are doing something when in reality all they do is a lot of talk and nonsense legislation like this.
Eventually the system will break and it will have to be fixed when its in a crisis situation. It is getting too overloaded and eventually will no longer be sustainable. It will cost too much money and require too much manpower. Plus the public will start to realize how ridiculous the system is once someone they know is on the registry. With the growing number of people on the registry from stupid legislation like this it is only a matter of time when the system will implode upon itself. Soon enough common sense will take over instead of irrational fear fueled by politicians trying to get reelected.
Mitch on Sex Offender Registry Mitch on Christianity’s Problem Dutch Bell on Sex Offender Registry David R Banta on Christianity’s Problem Dutch Bell on Christianity’s Problem