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Scarlet Letter Nation - The Sex Crime Registry

Updated on March 31, 2011

Are we a Scarlet Letter Nation? Do we love throwing stones at the people? Oh I think so! We love espousing that Gay people are immoral according to our cherished religious beliefs. We love telling women shame on you for having an abortion. Well maybe we are not that civilized after all. The whole concept of sex offender registration is appalling to me. You do not have to live long in this world to learn people have an insatiable appetite to punish and condemn and snob others. Pretty much we have not only legalized this phenomenon but required it under Federal statues requiring states to have sex offender registration laws.

Maybe you watch too much “Law and Order SVU”. Based on that show most sex criminals are guilty of rape of minors or worse. In reality, the vast majority of offenders victimize individuals who are known, related, or intimate to the victim. This is contrary to media depictions of stranger assaults or child molesters who kidnap children unknown to them. Thus, despite the public awareness of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, there has been no evidence shown that mandatory registration has made society safer.

Mind you, I am not being soft on punishment of sexual offenders, although that is sometimes beyond reason as well. I am saying when a person has paid their due and released from prison, it may be time to call it an end and let them get on with their life. A released sexual offender better have a lot of friends because getting a job is next to impossible even when no violence of any kind is involved. Neighbors will harass and be unduly alarmed. We have put the person in such a tight corner, living anything resembling a normal life is next to impossible. The sex offender lists even include people arrested for visiting prostitutes, underage teenagers who engaged in consensual sex with each other, and minors who emailed or texted nude photos of themselves to their friends. Do we really want to destroy their lives? Convicted sex offenders were murdered after their information was made available over the Internet.

The Jacob Wetterling Act is a United States law that requires states to implement a sex offender and crimes against children registry. It was enacted as part of the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. So Individual states decide what information will be made available and how it should be disseminated. Commonly included information includes the offender's name, picture, address, incarceration date, and nature of crime. The information is often displayed on free public websites, but can be published in newspapers, distributed in pamphlets, or through various other means. I am surprised there is not more outcry from the progressive community.

Patty Wetterling, the mother of Jacob Wetterling and a major proponent of the Jacob Wetterling Act, has openly criticized the evolution of sex offender registration and management laws in the United States since the Jacob Wetterling Act was passed, saying that the laws are often applied to too many offenses and that the severity of the laws often makes it difficult to rehabilitate offenders

Recently, Wetterling sent a scathing letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales demanding that Congress and the Justice Department fix the flaws that their over zealousness caused. Wetterling has found common ground with the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and joined them in declaring the Adam Walsh Act unconstitutional and contrary to public safety. On September 14, 2007, Wetterling reiterated her perception of the harm that current sex offender laws are causing

The typical recidivism rate statistics provided by the State of Michigan shows that an average of 3.5% (years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) of registered offenders re-offend. (A reoffense is defined as committing a similar offense, missing a parole or probation meeting, or by failing to re-register as is required 4 times a year.) The other 96.5% on average, for the years stated, are classified as first time offenders with no prior felonies or "sex"-related crimes on record.

What about this jerk? A chronic, calcified sexual sadist, Mr. Dodd stated in a court brief, "If I do escape, I promise you I will kill and rape again, and I will enjoy every minute of it."

This guy doesn’t need a sex offender list, he needs to be eliminated from society.

I know most of you think the list is a good thing. But it unnecessarily riles up a community against an individual and does little to protect that community. It can be a death sentence for the one time violator and at minimum prevent the violator from becoming a productive member of society. Family members of the listed offender are spit on and shunned. . When a person gets out the jail, they are told to find a place to live and a job.  The system then puts all its resources to work to insure that the person can't find a place to live and can't find a job.  Then it becomes his fault when he fails.

“He grabbed girl’s arm — now he’s a sex offender”

by Walter Olson on July 3, 2005

The judge agreed that 28-year-old Fitzroy Barnaby of Evanston, Ill. probably didn’t have any sexual intention when he grabbed a 14-year-old girl’s arm to chastise her (he says) for walking in front of his car. But unlawful restraint of a minor, the offense of which Barnaby was convicted, automatically qualifies as a sex offense under Illinois law. “Now, [Barnaby] will have to tell local police where he lives and won’t be able to live near a park or school.” “I don’t really see the purpose of registration in this case. I really don’t,” said Cook County judge Patrick Morse. “But I feel that I am constrained by the statute.” (Steve Patterson, Chicago Sun-Times, Jul. 1).

Saturday, December 4, 2010 The Legal Watchdog

Sex offender registries: They’re not just for sex offenders anymore

Our nation’s preoccupation with tracking sex offenders comes at a high cost. Between the fifty states and the federal government, we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on sex offender registries each year, in addition to the billions spent on incarceration and community supervision. However, these registries aren’t all they’re cracked-up to be, in part because they’re flooded with useless information. For each violent rapist, a registry may contain dozens of teenagers who had consensual sex with younger teens, and dozens of other teens who were convicted of “sexting,” urinating in public, or similar behavior. But, perhaps the biggest problem with sex offender registries is that they’re not just for sex-related crimes anymore.

In addition to dramatically expanding what constitutes a “sex crime,” many states have boldly crossed the line and require registration for crimes that aren’t remotely related to sex, pornography, or even public urination. An excellent example of this trend can be found in the Wisconsin case of State v. Smith, where Smith, a 17-year-old boy, made another 17-year-old boy go with him to collect a debt. Smith was convicted of felony false imprisonment for this behavior and, because his “prisoner” was a minor, the state forced Smith to register as a sex offender. (Smith, also 17-years-old, was not considered a minor. Wisconsin considers accused 17-year-olds to be adults.)

I recall myself grabbing a young boy to take to his mother to report his unruly behavior. The mother was more concerned with my grabbing her son then his obnoxious behavior and I had to go to court. Today I would be a sex offender! That boy eventually was sent to a military school because of his uncontrollable behavior..

If a person is so violent they cannot be returned to the community then keep them in prison. Get rid of the sex crime registry.


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    • profile image

      Sick to my stomach 5 years ago

      My daughter was sexually assaulted in our own yard she is only been 11 for a week and the man is 18...4th degree is what they wanna charge him with a misdemeanor punishable by a 500.00 fine are you kidding....I'm pissed my daughter has the right to feel safe in her own yard he was not arrested on the spot...not happy with the Csc laws in Michigan....will put you away for years for a non violent or victimless crime like marijuana but sexually assault a 11 year old child and walk.....then they wonder why people take the law into there own hands....cut of his manhood cause a man he is NOT!!!!

    • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

      Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley

      I am for doing away with the list. If they are not fit for society then they should remain in jail. If they are released they should not have their lives made public for neighbors to harass them. The list pleases the same kind of people that like witch hunts or throw parties at executions. Most people do not see themselves on the list. I recall when I grabbed a boy for beating up my son and breaking his sled. Today I could be considered asexual offender. That is stupid.

      We have many people that do not see how they could possibly be on the list because they never give credit to good luck or circumstance for their position in life. They see people on the list as inferior to themselves and that is why there should be no list.

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      i just attended housing seminar today. it included a 1 hr. workshop on sexual offenders. psychologists can tell who is likely to re-offend (sexual deviants, sociopaths, and narcissists). maybe we should let the others off the list, like one example of a man who possessed child porn, but had never touched a child. minors are NOT currently on the list, though unfortunately, their inclusion is being discussed.

      Canada has a program called COSA, which re-integrates even those who are considered likely to re-offend into society while keeping them accountable. our lecturer uses lie detector tests. i don't know how Canada keeps folks accountable. Anyway, COSA participants are unlikely to re-offend.

      Registration either isolates or makes sure there will be no one to hang out with but other sexual offenders. If that isn't a recipe for encouraging crime, i don't know what is.

      sorry if this is a hodge-podge. there's more. ask if you're interested.

    • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

      Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley

      "There but for the grace of God go I". Even an Agnostic progressive feels that way It is innate to people that call themselves Liberal. Conservatives do not have that. In their smug superiority they think they have somehow done everything right and take full credit for every success with no awareness of how good fortune has played a role in that success. I have high hopes that you will make a real difference in this world and hope you get to at least share custody of your daughter. You appear to have gotten some control and I wish you well. I for one am with you.

    • JAILTALK profile image

      JAILTALK 6 years ago from Oregon

      I think this is an awesome article. I had my own recent jail experience just trying to get to see my fair share of my daughter and as you can see by my name. I AM OUTRAGED!!! I am doing something about it and started a website...jailtalk. info --- It is brand new and I want a place for us to band together and share these injustice stories and get things changed. Thank-you so much for your perspective. I never knew all these other people were on the registry too. First thing we should all do is take a vote and say there is no finite penalty for every crime. How can a judge's hands be tied???? Are we third world? Everyone knows there are variables to ALL CASES. I love you. You are real and have common sense. I too don't go for anyone who abuses a child, but my eyes are open to all sides of every story. I voted you up and you are awesome, etc.............

    • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

      Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley

      I want to point out that over 90% of sex offender victims know and even trust the offender. I also want to emphasize many people on the registry have not committed a sex crime. I have been told by families of men on the registry that they have been spit upon and had dogs turned on them! People seem to enjoy witch hunts, executions, and any activity where they can satisfy a need for mob violence.

    • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

      Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley

      I think we should not be letting people out that are not safe. The registry should not contain everyone and anyone so that it means something if you are on it. Sorry to hear about your incident.

    • Jillian Barclay profile image

      Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

      Dear Terry,

      I agree with much of this. Think the problem stems from this country trying to lump everyone together; the same rules apply to all, when in fact, they should not. For example, one of the most hideous effects of the registry as it is, says that a kid (teenager, and they are all stupid, as were we!)who sends or receives photos of boyfriends or girlfriends can be convicted of felonies and be on the registry for life. That one error in judgment has led to the ruin of entire lives, including suicides.

      The entire system needs to be changed, from top to bottom. I agree with Fay, that anyone who rapes or molests(not grabbing a bratty kid by the arm!) a kid, needs to be gone, and if they are let loose, I want to know they are not near me or my grandkids! The problem is, the really dangerous people often don't even register, so the list becomes worthless!

      Read about John Gardner, the animal who raped and killed two young girls, just miles from where I live. He had been in prison for 6 years on a charge of raping and nearly killing a 13 year old in his mother's house, then after being freed, moved back to his mother's house(also just a few miles away). He informed no one and proceeded to rape and kill 2 beautiful young girls. His mother, a psychiatric nurse supervisor, defended him to the very end. Out of everyone, she knew her son was a monster, knew he had skipped out on his registration requirements, yet did nothing to help prevent more tragedy. Link to

      Get me started! Sorry! Someday will tell how I chased down a predator that tried to hurt my then 14 year old daughter (yes, I was a vigilante!), ran him off the road and how he got lucky! The police got there and physically held me back, because I was going to kill him!

      The whole system needs to be changed, but I am afraid that no one will step up to tackle it!

      Good job, as usual! Glad you quit grabbing bratty kids by the arm! I have had to stop that, too!

      And please tell your better half, your beautiful Hot Pants! Pam, that she has made me think twice about the things I say to people!

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Terry. When you keep lawmakers on the payroll year in and year out, this kind of nonsense is bound to fester. U.S. citizens demand to be bound by laws.

    • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

      Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley

      In case you have not guessed, Pam H is my Spouse. She works hard earning money while I try to gain validity as a writer. I wrote a HUB about her: My Bountiful Mid Life Crisis

    • profile image

      Pam H 6 years ago

      The next thing is that when you tell someone to go _ _ _ _ themselves, you will be on the sex offenders list!!!

    • Terry.Hirneisen profile image

      Terry.Hirneisen 6 years ago from Shenandoah Valley


      You have me laughing. We need a few friends in this world and you are definitely one of mine! I love your "Don't get me started.. I need a drink"

      It seems even those that offend young children already know those children are most do not seek out new children by kidnapping, etc. I know someone that took a photo of a young girl with her dress pulled over her head. He did not put it on the internet, sell it, or molest the girl in any way. He will be on the registry for 25 years. Those people that really do seriously molest kids should have a registry, and if they repeat make some hard choices. But this thing has grown way beyond the serious molesters.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 6 years ago

      The United States has more people in prison than any place else in the world. One reason is because we send people to prison for all kinds of nonsense. And then sadly, we continue the punishment long after they are released.

      It shouldn't surprise anyone that the recidivism rate is high. If an ex-offender isn't given the right to create a life for himself, what is he supposed to do? They don't have very many choices.

      Even worse, since the advent of DNA, we're discovering that more and more people are incarcerated who are innocent. In some states, after innocent people have been incarcerated for decades, there are no provisions for the injustice. A pat on the head, some bullshit about how justice finally did work and that's it.

      Mind you, I'm not in love with criminals, I just think we mete out punishment in stupid ways. Oops, I went on a rant didn't I? I was supposed to be talking about sex crimes and criminals. The registry is just dumb, but then again Americans are obsessed with sex. We impeached a president for sneaking a kiss. It's a sickness. If you think about it... our most violent confrontations are about what somebody else is doing with their thingy. Homosexuals... have you ever thought about some of the way-out things heterosexuals do? Don't get me started...I need a drink.

      Needless to say, I'm with you on this one, with the exception of those who sexually offend young children. I'm not certain what you do with those bastards.

      voted up/useful and awesome