On May 20, an editorial was printed in the Keene, New Hampshire's Sentinel. Titled "State's sex-offender registry overreaches,” it says much that is good and grounded in facts.
Its primary thesis is that inclusion on a public sex offender registry is punishment and not merely regulatory. When this scheme was first conceived, it was pronounced to be a regulatory mechanism, and the Supreme Court agreed. Since then, being placed on a public registry has indeed become, increasingly each year, a
Employers have fired productive workers due to threats of boycotts and, in some cases, vandalism to their property because they employed a sex offender. Many registrants can’t even get hired.
Registrants with children suffer many varied punishments: inability to keep suitable housing in which to raise their children, forced separation from their families due to the housing and a myriad of other issues, having their children terrified by vigilantes vandalizing the home or the family vehicle, and seeing them come home in tears and even bruises from the treatment received at the hands of their peers due to daddy being on the sex offender registry.
Registrants and their family members are indeed targets for all sorts of acts of vigilantism, up to and including murder, as witnessed not only in Maine, as the article points out, but also in Washington State--twice--in California, in South Carolina, and, ironically, in a very suspicious case right there in Keene itself--and these are only the tip of the iceberg.
So--well done, Sentinel.
Until you said, "Given the recidivism rates involved in sexual assault cases, especially those victimizing children, there’s a lot to be said for keeping the public informed of legitimate threats."
Which recidivism rates, Sentinel? Those of the latest study by the Department of Justice showing the re-arrest rate for a second sexual offense by a registrant to be 5.7% and the re-conviction rate to be 3.5%? Or possibly New Hampshire's own 2010 state report of sex offenders returned to prison within five years for a sexual re-offense, as reported by the Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform. "... the 5-year new victim re-offense rate for sex offenders was just 1.2%….
"These low numbers suggests sex offenders respond well to supervision and treatment, and don't commit new sex crimes at the rate the public thinks they do, said Michael Lawlor, Connecticut’s chief of criminal-justice policy."
And as far as those who victimize children, two facts come into play. Children who are sexually abused are
overwhelmingly victims of those in close and trusted positions in their lives, many of them conditions of incest. Studies show that, once these types of offenders are arrested and dealt with in the court system, they have extremely low levels of re-offense, lower than the average lows, and it has nothing to do with "keeping the public informed." These are not the "legitimate threats"; they almost always are correlated with those whose chosen victims are random strangers, and those situations are rare.
Those who advocate for fact-based legislation governing the treatment of those who have sexually offended appreciate the Sentinel's tearing away some of the myths and exposing the facts. We will appreciate it more when all of the facts are revealed.