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Registry Laws Cause More Problems Than Homelessness

       Someone with an organization out of Virginia called Reform Sex Offenders Laws read about South Florida's struggle with the unintended consequences of the sex offender residency laws -- essentially consigning offenders into homelessness. RSOL's response raised a series of troubling questions about other problems with overreaching sex offender laws. The statement: 


       Are Americans aware that their teenagers are having consensual sex which could result in the older teen being convicted of sexual assault, battery or rape a prison sentence and being listed on a Sex Offender Registry for 15 years, 20 years or for a lifetime? 

 Are Americans aware that their teenagers are e-mailing and texting nude photos of themselves and others? This could result in both teens being charged with creating, distributing and possessing child pornography with time in prison and being listed on a Sex Offender Registry for a lifetime.

Are Americans aware that if they receive one unwanted e-mail or text of child pornography on their computer or phone and a service technician finds the old/deleted file they will be charged with possessing child pornography? Resulting in time in prison and being listed on the Sex Offender Registry for a lifetime.

Are Americans aware that if they have knowledge that their juvenile child is having consensual sex with someone of 18 years or older, they (the parent) can be convicted of indecent liberties by person of supervision and listed on a Sex Offender Registry for 15 years, 20 years or for a lifetime?

Are Americans aware that middle schoolers have been convicted and listed on Sex Offender Registries for pinching other middle schoolers on their rear-end?

Are Americans aware that because of the “Victim’s Rights Laws & Rape Shield Laws” an ACCUSATION ALONE is sufficient for a conviction, a prison term of 5 to 25 years or even life and then being listed on a Sex Offender Registry most likely for life?

Are Americans aware that NO evidence, NO witness, NO dates or times have to be given by an accuser?

Are Americans aware that they CAN NOT defend themselves by supplying evidence or witnesses that can prove an accuser is lying and had motive to lie?

Are Americans aware that some States (Virginia) allow an accuser only 21 DAYS to recant a lie? Any amount of time after 21 days the wrongful conviction, the prison term and remaining on a Sex Offender Registry stands. If a witness was found 15 years after a murder case that could convict the murderer or if DNA was discovered to free a wrongfully convicted person 25 years later why can’t an accuser recant and the conviction be stricken from the record?

Are Americans aware they are no longer innocent until proven guilty in America when there is a sexual claim. They are guilty and not allowed to prove their innocence?

There is a huge difference between stealing a newspaper and robbing a bank, both crimes are considered theft but both are differentiated by law and society. Are Americans aware that the current laws that label someone as a Sex Offender in the U.S do not differentiate?  Whether you are accused of teenage consensual sex, urinating in public, mooning or streaking, pinching or touching someone or being a serial rapist upon your return to society, conviction and sentence will be the same.

Are Americans aware that a VERY large number of Registered Sex Offenders have never touched or raped anyone, let alone a child?   But guilt by association on the Sex Offender Registry labels them all as a “pervert” a “pedophile” and a “predator” for life. 

Are Americans aware that  somes states' legislatures  (Virginia 2006 & 2008) broadly re-classified Non-Violent Offenders to Violent Offenders? This includes many offenses that had NO physical contact.  The situation that has been imposed upon the “Registered” is that, under the guise of protecting our children, the Legislators are in fact repeatedly trying, convicting and re-sentencing Citizens without even notifying them that this has occurred. To re-sentence a Citizen of  the United States without giving them the opportunity to testify on their own behalf is clearly a violation of their Constitutional Rights. 

Our Legislators have taken a group of people and used them as a platform to win elections and instill fear into the parents of our country so that they look like heroes. People that are not "child-molesters", "pedophile's" or  perverts" have all been bucketed into one massive Registry and must endure a lifetime of shame.  The Sex Offender Registries are extremely costly both financial and to the families of the registered. Contrary to popular belief among the Legislators there is indeed hardship related to being listed on a Sex Offender Registry. The lives being destroyed are not just the “registered” but their spouse, their children and every family member sharing their name and address. When you are a “Registered Sex Offender” you struggle to find and keep housing, employment and your family because of the stress and humiliation that the Registry creates within yourself, your neighbors, your co-workers and vigilantes looking for justice for a victim they don’t even know.  The Sex Offender Registries are not protecting anyone, they are a means to humiliate, degrade, re-prosecute and destroy the lives of thousands of innocent citizens.

The Studies below have proven that the current Sex Offender Laws, the Registries and the Residency Restrictions are ineffective and damaging. Our Legislators repeatedly state inaccurate recidivism rates (the rate to re-offend) of “sex offenders” to the public to gain support of voters and to push through flawed legislation. The recidivism rate for “sex offenders” is significantly lower than that of murders, drug dealers and users or armed robbers. An interesting fact since Sex Offender Legislation is based on the assumption that “sex offenders” will recidivate with new sexual offenses. 

There is also a study conducted by the Attorney General’s of numerous states that proves the Internet is not as dangerous as our Attorney Generals and Legislators have convinced you to believe that it is.

                  • No Easy Answers: Human Rights Watch Study, September 11, 2007

          • The Adam Walsh Act: Scarlet Letter by Lara Geer Farley, April 17, 2008

                 • Fact Sheets Examine Impact of Sex Offender Registries: Justice Policy Institute, September 22, 2008       • Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders by Jill Levenson Ph.D. January 2009           • Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies: Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States. December 31, 2008

                • Residential Proximity to Schools and Daycare Centers: Influence on Sex Offense Recidivism, An empirical analysis by Jill Levenson Ph.D. December 23 2008

                • New Jersey DOC Study on the Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration February 11, 2009

                • Registering Harm: How Sex Offender Registries Fail Youth and Communities, Justice Policy Institute November 21, 2008

                A new book written by Dr. Richard Wright titled Sex Offender Laws: Failed Polices, New Directions concludes that the proliferation of “Sex Offender”  legislation over the past 20 years in America that were meant to memorialize an assaulted, murdered or missing child have largely failed. They have NOT reduced Sex Offender recidivism rates (5.5%), provided safety, healing or support for victims, reflected the scientific research on sexual victimization, offending and risk or provided successful strategies for prevention. Dr. Wright interviews Patty Wetterling, the mother of an abducted child says twenty years later that there are many issues with current policy and “We have not built into the system any means for success”. If Jacob Wetterling’s mother can see that current laws and policies are failing why can’t our government?

                The fear and loathing against Registered Sex Offenders that is currently considered acceptable needs to stop before additional Citizens and communities are harmed. Our Legislators need to rectify this mess they have created by bucketing ALL sexual related acts into Sex Offender Crimes. The broad brush that the Legislators have been allowed to use across our population will continue to grow until it reaches into your home and labels you and your family.

The Registries need to be returned to their original intent, to list only the most dangerous, untreatable and repeat offenders.

      

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marysueintx

GREAT WORK RSOL VIRGINIA! Americans need to wake up. Not everyone who is listed on the dreaded registry is a dangerous predator or pedophile. We are now less safe as law enforcement struggle to keep up with thousands who pose no threat to anyone. Feel Good laws have ruined entire families, communities, and the constitution as well.

Ann

Wake up Americans and contact your legislators. Demand a change before this mess affects your family or your friend. In texas alone 100 names are added weekly to the registry. Only a small percentage listed are dangerous to anyone. This not only needlessly ruins lives but prevents law enforcement and our communities from focusing on the real sex offenders.

m k c

Thank God it's the most fair and accurate updates on the subject I have read thus far. America, many unexpected families, parents, kins, etc. are in devastation because of this lawless law, made up by our country men and women's own agenda, intertwine with the hype, popularity game-plan, fear into personal gain. these "so-called convicts" are defenseless and entrapped. Thank you for reporting the truth of the matter.
MKC

stimers

To the end of the previous comments, the vast majority of people on the registry are normal people looking for a normal life. People that have made mistakes in the past, but that is where they reside - in the past. Yes, some people listed on the registry are dangerous, and need to be looked after. Then there exists the rest of the registrants. As a doctoral candidate, I am required to pass many tests, the least acceptable of which is to swallow my pride every four months and report to the local sheriff to register. To paraphrase: people make mistakes, fools repeat them. I have done nothing but push my life forward, but continually run into the hype and fear of this society. As depressed and despondent as I am, I can do nothing but push forward, if only for my belief in humanity, the belief that someone somewhere will gain some common sense (read Philip Roth) and see that this is wrong, and it needs to change.

MSLGWCEO

I'm posting this on www.cfcoklahoma.org.

Great piece.

Here are more studies

http://cfcoklahoma.org/New_Site/index.php?option=com_fireboard&Itemid=0&func=listcat&catid=83

JMS

Excellent article Fred! You know I used to be very anti-sex offender. Then when in college, open minded students shut me up & opened my mind as well! Of course then a close friend of mine is considered a violent sex offender. He slept with someone at a party who was underage (he was not aware of this). It's funny how when this affects someone you love, your point of view changes fast!

mmp

thanks for such a truthful article and thanks for RSOL in Virginia for all the help they are giving to the cause to wake people up and hopefully stop the maddness...i am the loving wife of a man charge in an internet sting conducted by the VA state police task force, he is being charged with 9 counts of class five felonies and NEVER ever met or touch this agents supposed daughter. the laws imposed on SO makes it almost impossible to keep families together, my home has been vandelized and damaged, people at night banging on side of my home scaring me...knowing i am alone...i live in a nice middle class neighborhood and have for 5 years with no problems at all....this is being caused by our government continuing to intense fear in people and lumping all accused into one pile, each case needs to be judged on its own merits...i sat in court recently and watch a convicted 2 time rapist with a past history walk with time served since march and 5 year probation...the judge asked him why he was smiling and told him he knew his family was waiting on him and he would be reuinted soon....i was appaulded...this is one wife that is going to fight until she is heard....

BLG

These unjust and severe laws must be changed as well as the punishment given--the time taken away from these people’s lives is just too long. We cannot take away the rights of other human beings in the name of protecting others. Not all those which the law labels “Sex Offenders” have ever been in personal contact or had a phone conversation with a minor. Society has to allow these people to live normal and decent lives, to contribute by working and paying taxes, rather than putting them away and once released not being able to function because of all the limitations put on them. Changes must be made and we have to fight until these laws are made just and reasonable.

Howard and Rita

It is pathetic that politicans would prey on the fear of parents to win votes. We live in a society that will register your name for sex offenses but not for murderers. Congress uses hype to win support. We would be honored to meet the politician who would stand up in public and admit that research has shown these laws are ineffective, violate rights and do not protect children.

Sad

I'm not a registrant, but my husband is and my life has been ruined by these laws, yet I've never committed a crime, ever. Not only is my husband bound by these useless, ineffective laws, but I am as well. People hate me because I married someone who has to register. I can't have children in my house or I'll be prosecuted for endangering the welfare of a child. It has been almost 20 years since my husband was convicted, when he was 17 years old and every year his punishment for that crime increases, 15 years after he completed his sentence. If I had evidence these laws actually prevented recidivism, I'd agree with the politicians, but they don't, and no matter what they do to try to "fix" the loopholes in them, nothing will change the rates of sexual crimes UNLESS they start focusing on first-time offenders. I hate that my tax dollars, which should be spent on things like health care, are being wasted on the management of a registry that violates every fundamental right, liberty and freedom of myself, my husband, and others like us.

Eyes Opened

Bravo. It's high time these laws were changed.

I had, for many years, been someone who believed all convicted sex offenders were sick criminals.

I was wrong.

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