" LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Sex offender registry makes no sense

" Lindsey Miller, Midland Odessa American - Posted: Sunday, March 26, 2017

I think we can all agree that sex offenses are one of the most heartbreaking crimes to take place in the world. Most people convicted of a sex offense are required to be on the sex offender registry. However, is the sex offender registry effective? Does it really protect our community? Do housing restrictions and banishing sex offenders from schools, parks, amusement parks, etc., really protect society? Are our government’s resources being adequately utilized this way?

According to multiple studies, residency laws do not protect our children or the society. In fact, research continues to prove these restrictions “do not reduce sexual re-offense, do not reduce the rate of new sex offense cases, do not stop or reduce child sexual abuse, are not based on facts and evidence, and do not contribute to public safety.” Additionally, research shows residency restrictions to “create instability, harm families, waste resources” and “are nothing more than a comfort factor”.

One myth widely believed by society is that “all sex offenders reoffend”. Many might be shocked to hear that only 5.5 percent reoffend, while only 3.3 percent of these involved children. Another myth is one we teach our children, “stranger danger”. Statistics show only 7 percent of molestations occur by strangers, leaving the other 93 percent to adults within, or friends of, the child’s family.

Did you know children are on the registry? There are over 800,000 registrants nationwide. 24,000 are juveniles: 16 percent are younger than 12, while 1/3 are between 12-14. The majority of these kids were partaking in “normative” sexual behavior with other minors, or simply urinating in public! This hardly seems fair, right?

Did you know there are also many innocent persons convicted of sex crimes? The U.S. Department of Justice has calculated that 8-12 percent of incarcerated persons are “factually or actually innocent”. Also, $214 million of state tax dollars have been wasted to imprison innocent people in Illinois alone. What about Texas? The federal government?

What does all this boil down to? We are wasting time, resources, and energy on a registry built on nothing more than fear.

 


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