More Than Tough Laws Needed?

September 4, 2009

BaltimoreSun : More than just tough laws needed to prevent sex crimes.

CF response:

Most sex offenses are committed by someone the victims knows personally (family members, baby sitters, friends, et. al.). (the low figure is over 75%)

In fact, national statistics show that 85 percent to 95 percent of the time, the offender is someone the child knows.

So the conclusion that this requires more stringent restrictions on sex offenders does not follow. The Dugard case is a prime example which clearly shows that the social branding and banishment laws do not work. No sex offender in California had more strict restrictions than did this monster; parole officials visited his home and interviewed him once each month. And he registered with county officials , as required, for over a decade. This was a case which demonstrates the inability of law enforcement to apply their resources in so many directions. The fact that the sex offender registries have been so flooded now(with the application of the new Adam Walsh Act laws and other restrictions such as residency restrictions), should demonstrate the fallacy of such laws.

The more people we put on these registries, the less abhorrent crimes will be prevented. It really is just a statistical fact. These registries need to be pared down to list only the most violent and high-risk offenders, yet laws like Adam Walsh Act do absolutely nothing to assess risk levels. In fact, in states like Ohio, the AWA implementation replaced a system which did account for risk level… while it increased the number of offenders on registries by instating retro-active application to offenders who committed crimes decades ago, and whom have had no criminal activity since.

The answer is quite the opposite of your supposition: we should limit the registry population to only those deemed by a court to be the most violent and high-risk offenders, with a tool to assess offenders over a period of time to allow them to prove their way “off” these registries. Sentencing any offender to a life-long social banishment (often times retroactively and unconstitutionally) serves no legitimate public safety purpose. In fact, it can make our communities less safe by forcing instability into the lives of those who committed a crime decades ago, and whom by the way, often have families and children of their own who are directly affected by this banishment mentality.

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