Feds Plan Sex Offender Registry

Alberto Gonzales has announced the creation of a federal sex offender database. This is as unnecessary as a Victims' Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

48 states have sex offender registries online. They are indiscriminate and include not only predatory child molesters but non-violent offenders convicted of very minor crimes - even peeping toms.

Recent crime statistics undercut support for the rash of Meagan's Laws. Treatment works for many offenders. Studies show that sex offenders have a lower incidence of recidivism than other types of offenders.

As I've said in earlier posts,

Considering that most offenders' victims are known to them, i.e, not strangers, community notification seems unnecessary in a great many cases--and counterproductive. Registration causes great difficulty for ex-offenders both in finding housing and jobs--key ingredients to staying out of trouble and re-integrating with society in a positive manner.

In additon,

We strongly oppose sex offender registration programs that provide information about an offender to the public via the Internet. What business does a web surfer in Oregon have looking at the record of a sex offender in say, Miami? If they have a legitimate reason to know, let them contact a law enforcement agency in Miami and get the information.

Not all convicted sex offenders are violent rapists or child molesters who society needs to be protected from. There should be some way of discerning those who are not and relieving them of the burden, stigma and economic consequences of lifetime registration laws and lifetime probation. For these offenders, once they've done their time, let them be. If they re-offend, they can be charged anew and sentenced to longer sentences due to having a prior conviction.

One of the primary purposes of sentencing is rehabilitation. Society has just as strong a need for rehabilitation as it does for punishment and deterrence, those being the other legitimate sentencing factors. (Retribution is not a legitimate sentencing factor.) Low-level sex offenders are going to be released some day--isn't it better if they have a means of supporting themselves when they get out? Oppressive and overly intrusive registration laws bring shame and humiliation which decreases self-confidence and causes isolation, neither of which is good for someone trying to re-enter society. They also keep the offenders from obtaining meaningful work--too many employers won't hire someone with a sex offense on their record.

Keep these offenders from obtaining work and take away their dignity and guess what they will do to survive? Right...they'll re-offend by committing an economic crime and it becomes a vicious cycle.

It's time to break the cycle, and thank goodness we still have an independent judiciary that can declare laws like the one in Indiana unconstitutional. We doubt we'll even have that after Bush packs the federal courts with his right-wing judicial activists.

TChris writes here of the danger of these laws with respect to juvenile offenders.

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  • Re: Feds Plan Sex Offender Registry (none / 0) (#1)
    by DonS on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:16 PM EST
    . . . and the beat goes on. Anything to genuflect before the altar of RW fundie obsession.

    Re: Feds Plan Sex Offender Registry (none / 0) (#2)
    by DawesFred60 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:16 PM EST
    if i rape a male cop is that a sex offender kind of thing? how would that look on the news? you would have to start a new registry. No I won't rape any male cops today, because so many have AIDS.

    Re: Feds Plan Sex Offender Registry (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:17 PM EST
    It is inevitable those unworthy of the sex-offender label will end up on the list, hence ruining their lives. Therefore, I must err on the side of freedom and the innocent and oppose these lists. The best defense against child molesters isn't a list, but simply knowing where your children are.