Burn Your “Sex Offender” Map

Okay, here is some weekend reading to sink your teeth into. It’s an article from the Economist:

“Unjust and Ineffective: America has pioneered the harsh punishment of sex offdenders. Does It Work?”

The short answer is “No.” We are putting people on sex offender registries who do not belong there at all. People who peed in public. Streakers. Johns. Teenagers who had consensual sex. The registry does not discriminate between violent pedophiles and once-horny young folk who are now 30-year-old housewives, like one of the people profiled in the piece. Wendy Whitaker was 17 when she had sex (at school — dumb!) with her underage-by-three weeks boyfriend. She was arrested for it and her lawyer told her to  plead guilty to get it over with. She did. But it was never over.

One of the plea bargain conditions was that she check in regularly with her probation officer. When she didn’t, she was thrown in jail for more than a year. She finished probation in 2002 but she’s still on a public registry that does not explain what she did. So, as notes the article, “it looks like she did something terrible to a helpless child.”

In all, according to the Economist, about 5% of the people on the sex offender registries pose a serious risk to children. Usually, when not in jail, these people end up wearing ankle bracelets. But when you pull up one of those Sex Offender Maps — really easy to do on the Web (and now on the iPhone!)– it looks like wherever you turn, there’s another child rapist. Which, of course, leads to more fear on the part of parents. That is understandable. Our pig-headed insistence on lumping everyone together on these lists and never taking them off is not. Especially because — get this: “Registering sex offenders and warning their neighbors cost millions & had no effect on the number of sex crimes.”

No effect.  One more quote from The Economist, which says that the sex offender laws, “get harsher and harsher. But that does not necessarily mean they get better. If there are thousands of offenders on a registry, it is harder to keep track of the most dangerous ones. Budgets are tight. Georgia’s sheriffs complain that they have been given no extra money or manpower to help them keep the huge and swelling sex-offenders’ registry up to date or to police its confusing mass of rules. Terry Norris of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association cites a man who was convicted of statutory rape two decades ago for having consensual sex with his high-school sweetheart, to whom he is now married…. “We spend the same amount of time on that guy as on someone who’s done something heinous.’”

From a Free-Range standpoint, it is appalling that these sex offender registries make it seem as if children are unsafe on any street. From a humanitarian viewpoint, it is appalling to think of our government is not ready to revamp the whole thing. Kids — and grown ups caught peeing in public — would all be safer.  — Lenore

67 Responses

  1. I’ve read before that many police departments are against making things harsher for sex offenders. Why? Because if life is too tough, they drop off the radar. And then we have NO idea who’s out there, and those who were getting treatment have no way to get it.

  2. A few weeks ago a good friend of mine finally took a peek at the sex offender registry to see if the neighbor who’d been creeping her out paying too much attention to her twin sons was on it. He was – for child molestation.

    Obviously this made her very afraid, but it didn’t actually change her behavior. She’d already advised the boys to stay away from private situations with people they don’t know well in general, and with this man in particular. The kids already knew to talk to her about strange or threatening behavior from adults or kids.

    It might have prompted her to supervise their outdoor play a little more closely, but by coincidence they were about to move anyway.

    My point: even when the registry does what it’s supposed to do and alerts a mom to the presence of a convicted pedophile in her neighborhood, it doesn’t have much effect other than to frighten the parents. It didn’t make that guy any more or less dangerous, and it didn’t make the kids any more or less capable of avoiding situations where he could be a threat to them.

  3. Fantastic article. Hooray for the Economist for writing such a wonderful article. This is such a terrifying subject, kudos to them for doing such an excellent job addressing this issue.

  4. Keep in mind that the corrections and prison system in most of the US is a for-profit industry. Sex and drugs are great money making tools for police, corrections, and their various hangers-on (such as Taser, Xe/Blackwater, prison and security companies, prison guard unions, …).

    Once again people need to step back, throw out the “it’s for the children” rhetoric, and look at the general picture.

  5. I’ve got to send this off to my mom-in-law.

  6. I had a friend several years ago who got busted for having consensual sex with a girl a two or three years younger than him (I think she was 16 but said she was 18 and he was 18 or 19 I don’t remember right off). This had happened several years before and since then he had left the neighborhood and gang he was with and was attempting to get a college degree, however he couldn’t live anywhere because of the sex offender laws and the rules apartments have on having any sex offenders (no matter what they did) living there. When he and his pregnant fiancee couldn’t find another place to live after the current place jacked up their rent he gave up and they moved back to his old, gang-filled, neighborhood. Every time I hear of the sex offender laws and registries I think of him and how hard he tried and what damage it did.

  7. What’s really sad is that most sex offenders to kids are relatives or friends of the family, and few are reported. I hope that all this zeal against false security and ridiculous attempts at overprotection does not blind you to the under reported incidents of child sexual abuse. Statistics vary, but I think 20% is one of the more reliable numbers I’ve heard, describing how many kids (especially girls) are sexually abused before 18. So it’s not a rare occurence, even if worry over strangers is overblown. Free rangers should make sure to equip their kids so that they can avoid or resist or survive an attack from an uncle or grandparent or babysitter, not just avoid creepy strangers.

  8. And how about the CHILDREN who are put on sex offender registries? Yes, this really does happen. Here’s a NY TImes article about it. Prepare to be shocked.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/magazine/22juvenile-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&sq=juvenile%20sex%20offender&st=nyt&scp=4

    A quote:
    While some sex education in schools includes lessons on how kids can avoid perpetrators, it is much less common for children to learn how to avoid committing sex offenses themselves. “It is morally wrong,” said Timothy Kahn, the Seattle therapist, “to do nothing to educate kids about the laws and then have them have to register as sex offenders and they haven’t even hit puberty.”

  9. Hi Lenore: You have no idea how deep this rabbit hole goes please visit http://www.rickyslife.com these kids are being eaten alive more and more in the name of “protecting children”.

    The Moronic Iphone App has been canceled as well. Thank you for this blog it is like an Oasis of sanity in a world full of panic and hype.

  10. http://sexoffenderissues.pbworks.com/My-Thoughts-About-The-Sex-Offender-Laws

    http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/2007/12/child-sex-offenders.html

    http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/2007/07/corruption-links.html

    I am totally against ANY form of abuse to any human being. And I believe anyone who murders another human being should be in prison for the rest of their life (until they die). I do not believe in the death penalty for anyone. Also, I believe that once a person has been in and out of prison and has served their probation and parole, done everything required of them, and what was signed on the “contract” when they took the plea, none of this should be required of them, none of it. The state cannot tear up a contract like this, which they are basically doing, it’s unconstitutional. Many people, if they had known they would be faced with all this, they would have NOT taken a plea deal. And the courts are very aware of this and this is why they made it retroactive; thus violating ex-post facto laws! They should be allowed to get on with their life as if nothing happened. I’m not saying for it to be removed from their record, but, the crime should be removed from public view and background checks, they should not have any more restrictions, shaming, etc. If they commit another crime, then they face a lot more punishment, like everything else is treated.

    When are we going to move away from being “TOUGH ON CRIME” and move to being “SMART ON CRIME?” If you locked every single sex offender up, at this moment, or killed every one of them, do you think the problem is over? No, more will follow.

    I’ve heard many people say “If these laws protect one child, then they are worth it!” And at the same time, if millions are tortured, it’s ok. Offenders are losing their homes, jobs, families, and children and cannot find new jobs or homes due to the insanity of these laws. The families are also made into outcasts for associating with or being related to an ex-offender and their own children are harassed and bullied at schools due to a family member being an ex-offender.

    I know these laws are a sensitive issue, but as all issues, they must be discussed and we must come up with a valid solution that will work. The laws, as they exist now, DO NOT WORK! People are always saying they cause unintended consequences. These laws have been on the books for years now, so nothing is unintended anymore. When are we going to set aside fear, hate, rage and anger and come up with a real solution? History has proven that these feelings NEVER get good laws passed but only create bad ones that punish and torture many people. These knee-jerk reactions to a slim number of high-profile crimes, like Adam Walsh and Jessica Lunsford, MUST STOP!

    When an ex-offender is forced to move from his/her home, thus having to sell it, cannot find another home within the law due to the residency “buffer” zones, get fired from their jobs due to being on the registry, cannot find a new job due to being on the registry, their husband/wife lose their jobs due to a significant other being on the registry, their children lose their friends and are harassed and bullied in school due to a family member being on the registry, thus destroying the children’s lives, ex-offenders are forced into homelessness and to live under bridges, harassed by police, neighbors and probation/parole officers, have to wear “I’m a sex offender T-shirt” or have a neon green license plate on ALL their cars, have “sex offender” on their drivers license and forced to renew their licenses every year, forced from shelters during tornadoes or hurricanes, cannot give blood at some places due to being discriminated against for being on the sex offender registry, denied housing due to being on the registry, signs placed in their yards inviting harassment and ridicule from the neighbors, forced to move when the neighbors start picketing outside the ex-offenders home, the list is endless.

    I THINK THIS IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT, BEYOND THE EXTREME!

  11. “What’s really sad is that most sex offenders to kids are relatives or friends of the family, and few are reported. I hope that all this zeal against false security and ridiculous attempts at overprotection does not blind you to the under reported incidents of child sexual abuse. Statistics vary, but I think 20% is one of the more reliable numbers I’ve heard, describing how many kids (especially girls) are sexually abused before 18. So it’s not a rare occurence, even if worry over strangers is overblown. Free rangers should make sure to equip their kids so that they can avoid or resist or survive an attack from an uncle or grandparent or babysitter, not just avoid creepy strangers.”

    The problem is, this is exactly what happens as an effect of continualy restrictive, and onerouse laws. The average family does not want to humiliate their family by reporting an instance because of the noteriety and continualy harsher restrictions of the registry.
    The registry becomes a scarlet letter attatched to all in the family of the registrant. “Collateral damage”
    “To protect one child” is the mantra, but no one thinks of the children in the family and how they are ostricized, ridiculed, and deprived of all the reasonably freedoms as all the rest. They suffer as if they are on the registry.
    Where is it said that it is ok to ruuin their lives? To save one child, but ruin the lives of a family of four? Has it statisticly been proven that any of these laws would have prevented a crime?
    “NOT”!!!
    Just an observation

  12. Thanks for posting this! It drives me crazy when I get e-mails that urge me to “find out how many sex offenders are in your neighborhood!” I’m tired of the fear propaganda, and it’s nice to have actual FACT to back up my “Don’t be an idiot!” arguments.

  13. This is great, Lenore. It makes no sense to let people out of jail, back on the streets, back into society, but still tagged with a big scarlet “A” that will make it difficult for them to find good jobs and good homes–it’s the ultimate recipe for recidivism. Maybe some criminals should be executed (or maybe not–don’t want to start a debate about that one). Maybe some criminals should be in jail for life. But when we let someone out of jail, and his parole is done, his “debt to society” is paid, and he is a normal citizen again; we should maximize his chance of restoring a normal life.

  14. I totally agree with this post. I feel for all the people (and I’ve personally known a few), who really have no business being on a list like this, and are being traumatized for something that happened when they were in high-school, and was totally unrelated to SEX.

    On on hand, if it MUST be what it is, I suppose I’d rather have the ridiculously long list of everyone and everything than nothing at all. . . but on the other, there are so many names on it, without some sort of organization or boundaries, all it can really be good for is to cause unnecessary paranoia. . .and there is more than enough of that going around!

  15. Here’s one more great site for people to check out– there is even an eBook there people can order pretty cheap — http://www.oncefallen.com. Many of those on the registry have been and can be rehabilitated. Also, most of the people who are a threat to your children are not on that list.

  16. My son is on a sex offender registry thanks to a false accusation. He was barely 16 at the time. When he was accused, my first reaction was dismay that a mentally unbalanced family member would be exposed – she had accused before, several times.
    I learned there in the current climate of our court system, you are guilty until proven innocent of this accusation.
    At one point she had a brief moment of remorse and tried to recant. The prosecutor told her either my son would be prosecuted, or she would – SOMEone was going to pay.
    The family left the state 10 days before trial to avoid testifying, then had the child admitted to a mental hospital, refusing to return to testify.
    My son was forced to accept an Alford plea (not admitting guilt, but considered guilty anyway!) to avoid 6 years of prison.
    MY son is now 27, and still a fearsome, loathsome registered sex offender. His accuser has cried, asking for forgiveness and to “just let it go”.

    His younger brother ended up enrolling in school out of town because some ‘concerned mommy’ found out his brother was on the registry – he was only 11 years old.

    His older sister lost a fiance over this – his ex wife threatened him with losing custody if he continued to associate with her.

    He will be signing away custody rights of his newborn son next week. He has no choice.

    I watched over my children carefully, fearing sex offenders. I had no idea the worst danger my children faced was loss of Constitutional rights and due process.

    Fearing bogey men down the street, while applauding the ever growing loss of civil rights is the pathway to hell littered with good intentions.

    Thank you for your voice of reason. You are a most brave woman.

  17. I don’t know. I’m a little disturbed by the thought of “violet” pedophiles. (I’m sorry, it just made me giggle)

  18. And then you have situations like one we had here locally, where the police were aware of a situation where a child had reported a man inviting her into his car (within two blocks of a school that was having summer sessions at the time), who turned out to be on the registry, but the police did not inform the neighborhood until an arrest was made TEN DAYS later — I’m not even sure they made any actual effort to inform then, except that it was on the public record at that point. The chief’s justification for the silence was that they didn’t want to accuse anyone until the investigation was complete. HELLO???? You don’t have to “accuse” anyone in order to say, “Hey, there’s been a guy in your neighborhood trying to get kids in his car on the way to summer school.”

    So on the one hand, we have these overbearing registries that become useless because the net is so wide, and on the other hand, the police don’t provide warnings in situations where they’d genuinely be useful. MADNESS!

  19. Thank You Lenore, You truley are a, “A Voice for the Voiceless.”

    “They call themselves the Secondarily Sentenced. Having committed no crime, they suffer the
    same punishments as the criminal.”

    http://tinyurl.com/ldro44

  20. I’ve used the registry before in my state. Luckily, on our state registry, they list the offense, how old the offender was at the time of the offense and the age of the person that they did this with. We have 4 registered offenders in my small town, 1 that was like the woman you mentioned above, 1 that was an adult who was with another adult 10 yrs their senior, but there are 2 male adults on that list that were convicted for harming a 3 yr old and 6 yr old. I’m fairly glad to know about the last two.

  21. […] the meantime, however, as Lenore Skenazy argues, parents might want to just “burn your sex offender maps” because they instill a sense […]

  22. I disagree with the inclusion of johns on your list at the beginning of the article. Johns are some of the most violent people on the planet. I am friendly with several ex-prostitutes through online communities and if you are interested in knowing about the abuse and violence they have suffered from their johns, I’d be happy to refer to you to their blogs.

  23. This is such an emotionally fueled issue that most people (out in the World) don’t seem to want to have a rational discussion about it. I’m glad you took the time to post about it, Lenore!

    Some of the best data we have on the registry programs show a recidivism rate of somewhere between 3-5% over 10 years. That by itself is enough to convince me that we need to take a serious look at who actually ends up on these lists and what we’re actually buying with all the money we dump into these programs.

    Part of the problem seems to be a confusion about the nature of the crimes. The stereotypical conception of the violent, predatory attacker of young children isn’t well represented on these lists. At least a few states that I know of reserve the right to try those crimes as capital cases, right up there with Murder One and Treason (Georgia is apparently concerned about people leveling war against their great state) . But those are the kinds of criminals a lot of people believe are listed in the registries, and they don’t want to be told anything else.

    It’s easy to get swept up in the hysteria of our new moral panic. It’s hard to reserve judgment when we’re “entertained” by shows like CSI:SVU and Law and Order, and bombarded by nightly news showcasing every crime against a child around the country. Well, the newsworthy crimes. No one wants to hear about neglected and abandoned and malnourished children living in deep poverty. Those problems are too big to fight, I guess.

  24. Woops, that should have been Law and Order: SVU. I must not watch enough television! 😦

    Bad consumer! Bad consumer!

  25. Our knee jerk reaction in this country to anything sexual is to demonize it.

    While NO ONE will ever defend those seriously disturbed individuals who actually do prey on chiildren, we in America have taken the prudish defense of our puritanical values far too far.

    Arresting teens for sexting? Gheezsh. Arresting them for posting their OWN racy photos on the internet. Double gheezsh.

    Unfortunately, common sense doesn’t seem to apply when we start talking about sex.

  26. It’s nice to see some positive attention to this issue. I thought I would post my own point of view, since I am on a sex offender registry myself. I committed a sex offense when I was in high school. Maybe my experience can help people better understand the issues.

    I was abused as a child by an older family member. It is hard for me to talk about the negative impact it had on my early years. I’ll just say that I was not well-adjusted socially, had a difficult time in school, and was overly curious about sex. Later, during my high school years, my curiosity led me to inappropriate behavior with my younger sister. What started out innocent progressed to something indecent. Through my actions I created the same negative impact on her life that I endured in mine.

    About seven years later I was prosecuted for my actions. At the time I was fresh out of college, back living with my parents, and struggling to start a business. I was confronted by the police with the accusations and I gave a truthful account of what I had done. I spoke nothing of my earlier history; I’m not sure why – I might have been blocking it out of my memory, or I might have been trying to protect other family members from involvement. I lacked the financial means to defend myself so I relied on my father to hire an attorney. I was advised by my attorney to enter a guilty plea and take a deal that involved a few days in jail and a long probation term. I was told it was either that or risk 15 years in prision.

    Naturally I took the deal. I was supposed to serve 3 weekends in jail, 3 weekends on the Sheriff’s farm, and 10 years of probation. I would also need to attend therapy sessions for a minimum of two years. It would be easy for me, because I’m not one who normally gets into trouble. After that I was supposed to be able to get on with my life. Not so, as it turned out.

    About a year into my probation new laws were beginning to be passed in response to some highly publicized crimes. The sex offender registry came into existence, and I was retroactively required to be included. Following in later years were laws requiring “registered sex offenders” to give a sample of their DNA to the state. Then came community notification mailings, my being banned from parks and libraries, biking trails, etc., frequent driver’s license renewals, a special marking on my license, restrictions on where “registered sex offenders” can live and work, the requirement to report multiple times per year to the Sheriff for photos, fingerprints, and information updates, restrictions on my travel, a special Halloween Curfew, and finally a change making the “sex offender” label permanent, so that there is no hope of moving on.

    New requirements are going into effect nearly every year. There is a list that is now a few pages long which I am given every time I register with the Sheriff. Every line says that I am committing a felony if I … And every line describes something simple that everyone else takes for granted.

    So I want to talk about the effect the sex offender craze has had on my life, 19 years after my crime, and 12 years after I made a deal with the state. Note that the crime that put me on the registry is the only crime I have ever been accused of, sexual or otherwise.

    In my business I have lost work, contracts, customers, and employees due to someone finding me on the registry. I have had my property vandalized, tires slashed multiple times, and received hate mail. I have received multiple speeding tickets when I was actually going below the speed limit. I have been harassed by police at my business multiple times, being told that I’m lying about where I am living. I have been told by family members that they don’t want me around, because their kids will get bullied at school if they are associated with me.

    A few years ago I got married to someone who was already aware of my situation. But our marriage soon failed. She told me that the problem was not me; It was all the negative attention she received for accepting me. She was embarassed to see my photo among others hanging on a bulletin board at the grocery store where she worked. She was embarassed at her college when asked if she was related to the person on the registry with the same last name, and did she see my picture on TV last night? She was saddened to hear one of her professors announce to the class that sex offenders could not be rehabilitated. She finally became tired of hearing about my picture being on the internet. The sex offender craze has caused numerous problems in my life. The registry keeps me in isolation.

    I can argue that I shouldn’t be on the registry based on the simple fact that the law didn’t exist when I committed my crime. But the higher courts have already decided that the registry is not a form of punishment, so it does not violate ex post facto.

    I can tell you from my own experience that the registry has caused me far more grief, worry, sadness, fear, and economiic loss than the sentence imposed upon me for my crime.

    I understand that the public wants to be informed of dangerous individuals. I am in support of the sex offender registry, if it is handled properly. Children should be protected from dangerous individuals.
    So why not let the courts decide if an individual is dangerous enough to be included? They can do so based on input from psychologists and other professionals.

    Applying these laws solely based on the charge is punitive; It serves no purpose other than to punish. It causes the registry to be flooded with people who are not dangerous and takes the focus off the people who are truly a danger to the children.

  27. “I disagree with the inclusion of johns on your list at the beginning of the article. Johns are some of the most violent people on the planet.”

    jill, legalizing prostitution would take care of this problem (and many other problems) quite nicely.

  28. On our county website, it does explain why they are listed. It tells you how old the victim was, how old the purp was at the time, etc. And in any case, people should be thinking about their actions because things you do when you’re young and stupid affect the rest of your life!

  29. @Megan:

    Did you do anything stupid when you were young? Do you think you would have a different point of view if you were on a registry for one of those things?

    The reason it is illegal for minors to drink alcohol, view porn and have consensual sex with adults is that they aren’t legally capable of making responsible decisions. They don’t think about the things they do affecting the rest of their lives. That’s another reason why the whole witch-hunt thing is stupid. Protect the children from the children! At the cost of the children!

  30. That’s a really stupid comment, Megan. The raison d’etre of these sex offender lists and the draconian laws that accompany them is (supposedly) to protect children from people who are likely to harm them. If you’d read the article instead of merely bilging on here as soon as the words “sex crimes” lit up the irrational mommy part of your brain, you’d have discovered that the significant downside to listing people who committed consensual acts is that it gives us less time to focus on the truly dangerous and tends to diminish the force of the registry itself. If I know that only three percent of people on it are genuinely dangerous, I’ll come to care about each individual name less and less. And while your area might be slightly more enlightened about listing the actual crimes rather than simply stoking fear, the majority aren’t–again, as the article pointed out.

    It’s easy to get paranoid and knee jerk when it comes to protecting the innocent, but part of being an adult is learning to think through one’s beliefs rationally. Preventing the genuinely dangerous from living near a school isn’t likely to stop them, and preventing those who aren’t dangerous from living their lives with some semblance of normality violates the injunction against cruel and unusual punishment, just for starters. What you’re suggesting here is really heinous: that people be punished out of all proportion to what they’ve actually done. Head down that path and we’ll be cutting off fingers for shoplifting gum. After all, 12-year-old shoplifters should have the werewithal to “always be thinking about their actions,” right?

    Try some empathy.

  31. Well said Shannon. An inaccurate list is more harmful than no list at at all, a bad list diverts resources that could be better used elsewhere. Consider “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” for a classic example, consider the TSA watchlists for a more modern one.

  32. Shannon, while I do tend to agree with you in this case, I don’t think you’re going to get anywhere by calling Megan stupid right off the bat. At least let her argue with you before you write her off!

  33. Uly: I didn’t call her stupid; I called her comment stupid. That, I believe, was probably more than it deserved, given that she didn’t actually read the article. I reserve more generous assessments for people who have serious arguments.

  34. I’m going to have to agree with Megan’s point here. My county also give the DOB of the offender, the age of the victim/date and type of crime the person was convicted of. So one can evaluate offenders on there who may have had problems such as described in the comments. I do have a problem with the posting in businesses of persons on these lists– that certainly meets the standard of harrassment.

    The recidivist scores for pedophiles are quite high. While I’m on board with the Free Range movement, I DO want to know who is living in my area. Not to point them out, not to harass, but to assess and instruct the small fry as he gets older.

    Are these maps and/or lists a good tool? I’m still undecided. I only looked at the list/map once. And there are more persons listed for over various types of offenses, not just sexual crimes. Are truly unrehabilitable people better served through community awareness, or by being locked in a secure pysch institution for the rest of their lives (as happens in some states)? I don’t know. Am I better off knowing there are two men in the neighborhood with convictions for child porn found on their computers? Would they be more likely to act out? Again, I don’t know.

    I haven’t thought about that list or information for months.

    That said, the list is only as good as accurate information is provided or updated.

    Also, an abuser IS mostly likely to be related to underage victims. Stranger abuse is more rare. So, perhaps these lists are not really useful. Again, I don’t know.

    And NO, “legalizing prostitution” would not take care of violent johns, Eric. That’s akin to saying legalizing drugs would take care of drug-related violence. There’s reasons for such activities to be illegal. Prostitution is NOT victimless crime, please read up on the % of women who ‘work’ as such and were abused as children and are caught in a continuing cycle of abuse.

  35. Dah says “The recidivist scores for pedophiles are quite high.” Could you please post your source for that statement?

    According to Department of Justice statistics recidivism rates for any new sex crime by former offenders is 3.5-5% over 10 years the second lowest behind murderers.

    There is so much misinformation and hype fueled by the Infotainment companies and the vote seeking politicians it’s no wonder so many people can’t let go of the Myth.

    I assume you all trust Lenore? Didn’t she compile a statistic that proved a child would need to wait alone on some street corner for 750,000 years before any kidnapping would happen?

    As a species there seems to be something about us that compels us to fear and hate anything we don’t or choose not to understand.

    From the Salem witch trials to the Jim Crow south to the Ritualistic abuse craze of the late 80’s and 90’s to the RSO Hysteria of today fear and hate rule.

    When this Juggernaut effects someone you love then maybe you will choose education over ignorance.

  36. The iPhone App offender locator is back. This time, they don’t charge the .99 cents, but still make money in advertising. A loophole i’m sure.

    To contact Howard “Trip” Wakefield III, President & CEO of ThinAir Wireless please call 832-300-3440, extension 3441. That’s is direct extension. As the president and CEO, he is completely responsible for the production, promotion and regulation of the company’s products and services.

  37. @Sheeple Herder,

    “As a species there seems to be something about us that compels us to fear and hate anything we don’t or choose not to understand.”

    It is called Authoritarianism and Prof. Bob Altemeyer wrote a very good (and free) book about it: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    @dahozho,

    Yes, violent johns are a problem but that’s because they’re violent, it has nothing to do with them being johns. Legalize it and you have violent people to deal with without the distraction of harmless johns; legalize it and the prostitutes would have the same protection against violent clients (and employers) as everyone else. The same goes for drugs, you can’t deal with a problem until the problem is out in the open where we can discuss it like adults. Making sex and drugs illegal has done nothing good, it has only caused more problems and fueled more moral panics.

  38. From the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers:

    FACTS ABOUT ADULT SEX OFFENDERS

    Don’t most sex offenders reoffend?

    There is a perception that the vast majority of sex offenders will repeat their crimes. Research studies by the US Dept. of Justice and the Canadian Government have found, however, that sexual offense recidivism rates are much lower than commonly believed, averaging between 14 and 20% over 5-year follow-up periods. Studies that have tracked sex offenders over longer follow-up periods have found that pedophiles who molest boys, and rapists of adult women, were the types of offenders most likely to recidivate at rates of 52% and 39% respectively. Repeat offenders are more likely to reoffend than first-time offenders. Those who comply with probation and treatment have lower reoffense rates that those who violate the conditions of their release. Sex offenders who target strangers are more dangerous than those with victims inside their own family

    It is also important to recognize that official recidivism statistics are always lower than actual reoffense rates, because some sex offenders commit many sex crimes that go unreported and undetected.

    http://www.atsa.com/ppOffenderFacts.html

    That’s 52% recidivist rate for PEDOPHILES (which is the category I am most concerned about). You’ll notice the figure given in the article was for ALL forms of convicted sexual offenders. Yeah, its more likely to be lower, considering all the offenses included under that category now.

    For pedophiles, its high. Very high.

    Eric– you still don’t get it. Really. This isn’t about being prudish or not having things out in the open. Its about the cycle of abuse prostitutes are living with and sadly, from which reinforces the cycle on a daily basis. This is about patterns of behavior, and not even making it a bureaucratic process will make that any better.

  39. DAH? I was quoting from U.S. Department of Justice statistics that examined ALL offenders. If you want to pull out the 5% of that group that are actually dangerous Pedophiles that study might hold some weight.

    If we are going to have a debate we should agree to use U.S. Government statistics that cover all RSO’s as this is the same government that claims it is protecting kids?

    The Problem is that the SO registry basically treats everyone the same so how will you be able to find that 5% that are pedophiles and that are also the John Coey dangerous types?

    Are you saying your particular registry specifies if someone is a diagnosed pedophile or does it conveniently leave it up to everyone to assume that they all are?

    Do you happen to know the definition of a Pedophile?

    With the Adam Walsh act risk is COMPLETELY removed in factoring in someone’s Tier level everything is based on crime of conviction.

    The old “voo doo” claim that sex crimes are under reported does not hold water either. All crime is under reported but that does not effect the research done on the group we are talking about the RSO’s.

    I do not for one second make the claim that there are not some sick dangerous people out there but I do make a statement of fact that these registries in current form are completely useless.

    Up for another homework assignment? Please go research all the stories you can find that claim the SO registry has saved a child from being abused and post some links.

    700,000 people on the list now there should certainly be a few?

    Here is one that came out yesterday concerning the disaster going on in Miami.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/other-views/story/1180407.html

  40. Yes, the DOJ stats lump ALL “sex offenders” in together. As the cite I provided pointed out, the stats are VERY different when they ARE broken out into specific categories. That is why currently provided DOJ stat. is more than a little misleading on the recidivism rates for the type of abuser I think we can agree presents a higher risk– the pedophile.

    That is the stat. you requested, and that is the rate I provided from a professional organization which exists to treat/rehab such offenders. It is not very different than the rates I remember cited in pysch textbooks at university. Here is another report, from a DOJ office, which gives statistics from various studies, ALL of which point to a high recividism rate for pedophiles.

    http://www.csom.org/pubs/recidsexof.html

    Pedophiles do comprise a small percentage of offenders, and so while the risk is still small, once you have someone offending in this manner, there IS a higher risk such an offender will re-offend.

    As Megan pointed out, the website DOES indicate the type of crime the offender is on the list for. One CAN differentiate someone convicted of an offense based on victim age, offender age at time of crime, etc. etc.

    The definition of Pedophilia? Here you go:

    Pedophilia is a paraphilia that involves an abnormal interest in children. A paraphilia is a disorder that is characterized by recurrent intense sexual urges and sexually arousing fantasies generally involving: nonhuman objects; the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner (not merely simulated); or animals, children, or other nonconsenting persons. Pedophilia is also a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification. It may be directed toward children of the same sex or children of the other sex. Some pedophiles are attracted to both boys and girls. Some are attracted only to children, while others are attracted to adults as well as to children.

    Pedophilia is defined by mental health professionals as a mental disorder, but the American legal system defines acting on a pedophilic urge as a criminal act.

    Further description?:

    The focus of pedophilia is sexual activity with a child. Many courts interpret this reference to age to mean children under the age of 18. Most mental health professionals, however, confine the definition of pedophilia to sexual activity with prepubescent children, who are generally age 13 or younger. The term ephebophilia , derived from the Greek word for “youth,” is sometimes used to describe sexual interest in young people in the first stages of puberty.

    The sexual behaviors involved in pedophilia cover a range of activities and may or may not involve the use of force. Some pedophiles limit their behaviors to exposing themselves or masturbating in front of the child, or fondling or undressing the child, but without genital contact. Others, however, compel the child to participate in oral sex or full genital intercourse.

    The most common overt aspect of pedophilia is an intense interest in children. There is no typical pedophile. Pedophiles may be young or old, male or female, although the great majority are males. Unfortunately, some pedophiles are professionals who are entrusted with educating or maintaining the health and well-being of young persons, while others are entrusted with children to whom they are related by blood or marriage.

    There’s your definition.

    It is obvious to me that you simply do not want to engage in constructive debate. The larger issues you cite are NOT the focus of my posting. If there is a pedophile living in my neighborhood, yes, I would like to know. Not to take action, not to harass, but to simply be aware of a definite risk factor. Rather like knowing the temperments of the various dogs in your neighborhood. (Ok, in mine that’s a really good idea.) So I know there are 2 men convicted of possessing child porn in the area. Hopefully they’ve learned their lesson. They probably fit comfortably into the over DOJ statistics.

    As I stated before, are these online registers of any use? I don’t know. I went to the site once, poked around, found a little info but nothing really alarming. I’m sure someone who ended up on the register by being young & stupid feels quite differently. For adults with a problem, will this assist in not re-offending? I don’t know.

  41. The registry is the worst thing ever! When are we going to start treating child molestation or rape as seriously as we treat murder?

    In my mind, the law should be changed so the real offenders, who are disgusting, should be given life sentences and the rest, who aren’t really sex offenders (the guy who pees in public or the 20yo dating the 17yo), should be given their sentence or fine. Wasn’t the registry created to let us know who is a danger to us? Do those acts fall into that category?

    It just makes it harder for us to distinguish the real danger and makes people, especially parents, more fearful by having all these people fall under the “registered sex offender” category

  42. dahozho: Eric’s already quite effectively pointed out the problem with your deciding that recidivism rates are high for the group that’s actually likely to reoffend. That’s like saying that my cat is a cat. Of course dangerous people are dangerous. The whole point of the article–which I’m not sure you read, trying to comprehend these ridiculously long, low content posts of yours–is that somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of the people on the registry aren’t actually dangerous to anyone, because they’re not actual pedophiles, pederasts, or rapists. They’re people who urinated in public or 16-year-olds that had sex in the back of a classroom with other kids just shy of their 16th birthdays. You might support breaking them out into categories, but again THE WHOLE POINT OF THE ARTICLE was that this generally isn’t done. (I’m really not sure why it’s so hard for you to understand that this is the argument that everyone here except you and Megan have made.) And your county registry might give a description of the crime, but most counties don’t. Furthermore, the article gave a very good example of a county that did supposedly list the reason. In this particular case, the descriptor given was “sodomy.” Well, that was the aforementioned 16-year-old who had oral sex with the not-quite-16-year-old in the back of her school classroom. Stupid? Sure. But surely not enough to get her evicted from her house and to keep her *husband* from working for a “crime” that isn’t even illegal in Georgia anymore.

    Another thing that leads me to think that you didn’t bother to read the Economist article is that you say you don’t know whether registry lists actually help the dangerous five percent from committing crimes. A meta-study cited, for instance, found that 43 percent of likely re-offenders were helped (hindered?) by psychotherapy. On the other hand (again, from the article):

    “Several studies suggest that making it harder for sex offenders to find a home or a job makes them more likely to reoffend. Gwenda Willis and Randolph Grace of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, for example, found that the lack of a place to live was “significantly related to sexual recidivism”. Candace Kruttschnitt and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota and Kelly Shelton of the Minnesota Department of Corrections tracked 556 sex offenders on probation and found less recidivism among those with a history of stable employment.”

    So, how about this. You go click on the link that Lenore helpfully provided in the post. Read the article. Then come back, and if you still think that you want to 16-year-olds who have sex in the back of their high school classrooms getting evicted from their houses or becoming subject to vigilantism based on some non-descript category on a government website, you can post yourself blue in the face and/or fingers then. But comments like this one “I’m sure someone who ended up on the register by being young & stupid feels quite differently” make me think that you, like Megan, suffer from an empathy deficit. As the god you no doubt worship every weekend supposedly said, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

    And Sunny1 is absolutely right: the truly dangerous need to stay locked up in prison. The legal limbo of this country’s probation and parole system either puts evil on furlough or ensures that people who aren’t likely to reoffend can never get a job or a place to live again. Neither one is a particularly good outcome.

  43. I never said: “I want to 16-year-olds who have sex in the back of their high school classrooms getting evicted from their houses or becoming subject to vigilantism based on some non-descript category on a government website,”

    Ever.

    Yeah, actually, I read the article. The studies still show that we don’t know a lot. You, however, seem to really know what I “think.”

    I narrowed my argument down to the most likely category to re-offend and the most likely to present risk to my neighborhood. Does the list I look at allow me to tell who those *pedophiles* are? YES. In the US, it does.

    I did NOT address the larger issues you seem to want to discuss. I’ve posted legitimate citations supporting my argument. You choose to ignore them. I don’t disagree with what you say about the larger issues, THEY ARE JUST NOT THE FOCUS OF MY POST.

    As far as empathy, deficit– another assumption on YOUR part. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. BTW, your assumption of my religion is insulting and shows you have no acutal data to address my points.

    Ad hominem attacks are the last refuge of the ignorant.

  44. Your posts aren’t worth my time or the extraordinary number of bits they are printed on (you also seem unfamiliar with what constitutes an ad hominem argument), however, what you said is that you agreed with Megan’s silly post and that you thought people who did stupid things as teenagers probably would be all upset about registries, thus implying that anyone who never did anything stupid as a teenager had nothing to fear. *That* was the part of your post I was taking issue with, as well as with your apparent inability or unwillingness to engage with the larger points of the article. “I think all pedophiles should be punished” didn’t seem like a very interesting or controversial point, so I assumed–I think as everyone assumed–that you must be defending the broader point that the article takes issue with, namely, that registries primarily serve to capture people who pose no risk to anyone. But hey, perhaps you take comfort in the cliched and puerile. If you do, I apologize for misinterpreting your meaning as anything more complex or controversial than it really was.

    And actually, the studies cited in the article show that we do know that registries and living restrictions work poorly. So, yes, you need to read it again. Perhaps some Cliffs Notes are available.

    Random capitalization and bad grammar are the only refuge of the ignorant, as is making an ad hominem attack in the same breath that you’re protesting that one’s been leveled against you.

    Shoo. You’ve contributed nothing here.

  45. Gosh. Such a long rant for something that doesn’t bother you.

    A debater commits the Ad Hominem Fallacy when he introduces irrelevant personal premisses about his opponent. Such red herrings may successfully distract the opponent or the audience from the topic of the debate.

    Such as your snide remarks.

    Sorry, this isn’t your personal echo chamber. I’m a Free Ranger and not going anywhere.

  46. wow thanks to share,i always came to visit ur blog🙂

  47. Shannon, seriously though, there’s a time and a place for telling people their comments are stupid, and for insulting them. Even if they deserve it, what good does it serve? Drives them further away and it makes you look like an ass.

    I’m hardly Ms. Nicey-Nice. I’m not, in fact. You can scroll through my own past comments : ) But seriously, sometimes the best response to inanity is no response at all. If they’re serious they at least don’t feel *proven right* by your diatribe, and if they’re trolls they aren’t being encouraged.

  48. On the subject of bad criminal databases:

    Social Security to Pay $500 Million To 80,000 Victims of Database Error

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/11/AR2009081103282.html

    There were similar issues with the felon lists used in Florida for the 2000 elections, the TSA “dangerous persons” lists, and credit report databases

  49. Hi…. nice to visit here, Thanks.

  50. My name is TJ and I was forced to take a plea bargin in 1998 to 3 degree sexual assualt. I know just what everyone thinks when they hear that. That I am some horrible monster that is a threat to their children. So what did I do to get such a bad charge. I was just a teenager who had sexual contact with another teen. I was told by the Judge and my Lawyer that I would never have to register and that I was not considered a threat to anyones safety. I went untill last year without having to register and without warning I was arrested in for failure to register. I was really confused about what was going on. I later found out that in 2007 laws were changed making any offender having to register. I couldn’t believe it I was tried and sentenced in the court of law and because years later some laws change they changed my Judgement and Sentence. Now I am unable to get a job and live in fear that I will be the victim in a hate crime. I asked the detectives here how will someone know that I am not a danger to them or their children and how will they know that I am not a rapiest or a ChoMo. Their answer was simple they don’t and my heart sank. The detectives that I have to deal with here have told me to fight and to become proactive against what is happening to so many other just like me. They told me that all this has done is take their time and manpower away from those who truly need to be watched and he stated that their were about 4 out 130 in my small town who are a threat but get little attention because their work load is so high with non risk offenders who were just children themself when they got this lable attached to them. I am looking for people to help me fight for sex offender law reform. I need help with a website, documenatry, lobby groups, writing State and house Reps and Senators and lawyers. Thank you for you time.

  51. The laws have become so ridiculous that children as young as 5 are on sex offender lists in GA.

    Instead of arresting people and putting them on lists for looking at porn on line, lets start putting Politicians in jail for passing useless and expensive laws.

    About 50+ children a year are taken by strangers, most kidnapping and sexual molestation is done by parents, family, or friends of the family, or someone who knows the child… why isnt this ever printed ?

  52. Chuck? There is just no gain in telling the truth. Fear is political “currency” and also ratings currency.

    We have a society whipped into a fear frenzy and ready to surrender almost any rights for a false sense of security.

    Government manages to foul up even the simplist of tasks yet so many seem to be perfectly willing to place the safety of children in their hands.

    There was a society in Europe in the 30’s that used these exact same tactics.

  53. My best-friend is a single father with two sons. Their mother sees them 2x a year. He went through a bad break up and a girl who was his exgirlfriends friend kept calling and texting him ” to talk”. The girl was almost 17 & although he kept telling her that she was too young and he couldn’t talk to her anymore, she continued to call and text him. He was lonely so he talked back off and on. She showed up at his house one night and started really coming on to him. Well 1 thing led to another and he ended up having sex with her. he immediately regreted it telling her that it would never happen again and had been a mistake. The next thing he knows he is being hauled out of his job in handcuffs. His family lives 4 hours away and the cops wouldn’t let him call anyone to pick up his kids from daycare. They told him that the sooner he signed a confession the sooner he could have his kids picked up. He signed the confession so that his boys wouldn’t be left sitting at the daycare waiting for him to show up. Now his boys are with their money hungry grandma and his in prison. Him giving in to her basically stalking him resulted in him getting thrown in jail. He has served 9 months of his sentence. His plea bargain originally had him eligble for parole at 11 months, but he was recently informed he would have to serve a minimum of 30 months b4 he was eligible for parole because of the nature of his crime. The girl went to court acting like a victim in the situation when she has moved on with her life. My friend and his kids ARE the victims not that spoiled brat that wouldn’t take no for an answer. When he does get out he has to register as a sex offender and the kids will be bullied. He is the most honest GENTLEMAN I have ever had the priveledge of knowing and his life is ruined. Oh yea, the girl’s dad and uncle work for the police department.
    I am amazed that a 16 year old girl can be charged as an adult for murder because she knew right from wrong, but that same girl can be thought to be to dumb to make a decision concerning with whom she has sex. Doesn’t make sense. We need new laws and to reform old ones.

  54. Rachel you need to understand that unless it’s some “hot female teacher” the Man will always be the one held responsable regardless of the reality of the situation.

    This is why law enforcement cannot keep an eye on the Monsters because the registry is loaded with people like your friend who are no danger to anyone.

    I also marvel at a justice system that would charge a 14-17 yo as an adult if she knocked over a 7-11 yet this same girl is an “innocent victim” in matters concerning sex.

    This animal out in Cali that was involved in the King case was fully compliant with all the laws but did they save this girl?

    There are maybe 3-5% of ppl on the registry that are truly dangerous yet all are put side by side on the same registry with the same ever dwindling level of scrutiny.

  55. plz follow me on blogger..i have a sex offender blog..

  56. Police and Probation officers are most often sadistic child molesters. We are all God’s children and police molest us. Thus, they are molesters of God’s children. They are sick. They kidnap the children of God and lock them in cages. They don’t see it this way because they don’t believe in God. They think they are God. Not a single one of them will go to heaven. I know because I am an Angel of the Seventh Order of Heaven. I was sent here to Earth to make life better, to absorb pain and deliver souls from Satan. Satan’s workers are many here, especially in American government. They are sinister beings that think they are human but are not. They are counterfeit even unto themselves. They will be caste into the lake of fire for all eternity to burn with the fire of non-existence for all eternity. This must be done because they are a disease. It must be cauterized. Lord be with all the suffering children of God. Amen.

  57. I’ll take an ankle bracelet and shove it sooooo god damned far up a feminist’s craphole she will choke on it!

    FUK THE MARK OF THE BEAST!

    SATANIC FETUS MURDERERS SHOWING US HOW TO LIVE?

    Take your ankle bracelets and your “lists” and ram them up your disgusting
    infected slime clams, you wicked servants of the beast!

  58. JOHN WALSH IS A SCUMBAG.

    Capitalizing on his own son’s death.

    What a disgusting person he is.

    Just like the rest of the police.

    Disgusting people.

  59. Parents who go on crusades to punish the human race for the loss of their child are sick. They themselves cause their own child to suffer the flames of hell. Forgiveness is the only path to heaven, period. These parents are actually wicked servants of satan that pose as “victims”. But that IS NOT who they really are. They are sent here from satan to increase misery, to torment and to dehumanize society. They relish in the unintended consequences of their vengeance. Do not be fooled by satan.

  60. Woops, that should have been Law and Order: SVU. I must not watch enough television!

  61. Say that a 30 year old man has consensual sex with a 16 year old. He gets convicted, loses everything and ends up on the street after prison.

    He can’t find a job or a place to live. Because he is a labeled a child rapist, he becomes a complete outcast unable to maintain healthy relationships with friends and or woman.

    I’m sure that such treatment toward this individual will make things better for all of us.

  62. Mig? You nailed it bro. The problem is that anytime you apply “logic” to an emotional issue? You get labeled as a “sympathizer”.

    Were a deeply ignorant misinformed vengfull society that is more interested in punishment and revenge rather than looking at solutions that could actually lead to far fewer victims of sexual abuse.

    The longer this broken pointless experiment continues? The more children will be victims.

    I have been looking for over 6 years for one single story that even suggests this regestry scheme has prevented even one crime.

    Billions are being spent on a program that only hurts people and does not help or reduce the number of victims.

    Thanks

  63. This is a response to several of the above comments.
    What are you complaining about? Where were you when these laws were passed? Weren’t you out there parading around with banners screaming, “Sex criminals must be punished!”? You weren’t? Then were you organizing your own rallies to counter them? No?
    Well, then it’s your own fault. Bad laws passed for (allegedly) good reasons are STILL bad laws. Aren’t you familiar with the phrase saying “government is of the people, by the people, and for the people”? That means that you are responsible for overseeing the ones you put in power, to be sure that they DO INDEED answer to the people. In a rational, just, compassionate and, most important, a CONSTITUTIONAL way. Ah, but you allowed yourself to be ruled by emotion, by the histrionics of the uninformed masses. Oh, gee, I’m sorry. You are not happy with the harvest of the seeds you blindly sewed. Serves you right. Oh, and before you hit the delete button to remove this comment, remember – IT IS STILL GOING ON! The histrionics, the appeals to emotion – they are still there, blinding you to the cruel facts of reality.
    You know, of course, that 15 or 20 years ago, there were voices warning that this would happen (mine was among them). But you did not listen then, as you are probably not listening now. THAT is why it is your fault, and I find little to sympathize with you about your complaints.
    And in another 15 or 20 years, you’ll be posting your complaints to another website (that is, if an Internet still exists that will allow you some freedom of speech…) You see, you never learn. You don’t study history. So you are condemned to repeat it.
    See, if you don’t protect the rights of others whom you don’t like, condone, or agree with, that means that YOUR rights will not be protected EITHER. Try googling, “They came for the communists, but I was not a communist” and see what you should have learned in school.

  64. The recidivist scores for pedophiles are NOT hight. Recent multiple independent studies show it being 4-8%. With murderers being released killing again at a 40-50% rate and armed robberies being 60% or better.

    People, politicians SCARE you to get votes. THEY FREAKING ADMIT to doing it. STOP blindly believing everything you hear. Since you are reading this – you have the internet and it happens to be the greatest informational and research tool on the planet.

    LOOK IT UP. I have spent probably over a 100 hours researching topics related to sex offenders simply because it interests me. Sex offenders typically do not re offend and the ones that do usually get a hefty sentence.

    For example, 67% of all the sex offenders in North Carolina are convicted of indescent liberties w a minor and that charge includes 100’s of things you can do to get it. It does not require touching, contact, or even knowing a minor is around.

  65. […] little to nothing to keep us safe.  Lenore Skenazy does a better job of discussing this, so read her piece for a new, refreshing perspective.  What if we had maps online complete with pictures where we […]

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