Finally, we interviewed state officials responsible for enforcing sex offender laws, including probation and parole officers and county sheriffs. Online Sex Offender Registries States should eliminate public access to online registries of sex offenders as a form of community notification. According to his mother, the stigma of the label drove him out of his community and away from his family. It is the only country Human Rights Watch knows of with blanket laws prohibiting people with prior convictions for sex crimes from living within designated areas. Legislators, public officials, and members of the public routinely claim that people who have committed sex offenses pose a great risk to the public because they have "astronomically high" recidivism rates.
Some of the conduct reflects the impulsiveness and perhaps difficulty with boundaries that many teenagers experience and that most will outgrow with maturity. The Role of Federal Law While a few states have had sex offender registries since the s, most states began creating registries in the s. Even though my crime and offender registration was supposed to remain confidential, the police officer announced that I was a registered sex offender to everyone in the car with me. For example, the Center for Sex Offender Management advocates individualized risk assessment for sex offenders that takes into consideration "the complex and varying nature of sexual abuse and the individuals who perpetrate it. The court must issue a written finding designating a person as a sexual predator. Former offenders considered low-risk for reoffending, on the basis of individual assessment, should not be required to register. Treatment, Research, and Education Federal and state governments should support sex offender treatment programs as a key component of sex offender management. Their families suffer as well. Research on sexual violence reveals a very different picture of who the perpetrators are and what their likelihood of reoffending is compared to what the public assumes. Promoting public safety by holding offenders accountable and by instituting effective crime prevention measures is a core governmental obligation. Advocates for residency restrictions believe they will limit offenders' access to children and their temptation or ability to commit new crimes. There is no silver bullet. For example, they 1 isolate offenders, often forcing them to live in rural areas that lack jobs, transportation, housing, and treatment; 2 create homelessness, making it difficult for law enforcement officers to track offenders; 3 cause offenders to go underground and not update registration information; and 4 can prevent offenders from residing with supportive family members who live in the restricted areas. If the officer's belief is confirmed, he or she must issue the offender a written warning and require him to leave the area. A growing number of states and municipalities have also prohibited registered offenders from living within a designated distance typically to 2, feet of places where children gather-for example, schools, playgrounds, and daycare centers. I was fired from a job because I didn't disclose the fact that I was a registered sex offender, and they did a background check. We are also convinced that there is no legitimate basis for blanket residency restrictions. In February she was abducted from her home in Florida, raped, and buried alive by a stranger, a next-door neighbor who had been twice convicted of molesting children. Sex offender laws are based on preventing the horrific crimes that inspired them-but the abduction, rape, and murder of a child by a stranger who is a previously convicted sex offender is a rare event. States should regularly review all registration information to ensure its accuracy. I dropped out of classes when I found out the registration laws changed to apply toward college campus police departments. Federal law and the laws of all 50 states now require adults and some juveniles convicted of specified crimes that involve sexual conduct to register with law enforcement-regardless of whether the crimes involved children. Even assuming some public safety benefit, however, the laws can be reformed to reduce their adverse effects without compromising that benefit. According to a local newspaper, nearly registrants appear on Oklahoma's website for engaging in indecent exposure. Ohio ; and People v. And few public officials have acknowledged their responsibility to protect the well-being and fundamental rights of all residents-including those who have been convicted of crimes.
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