Thesis Statement: Sex Offender Registry: More Harm Than Good
The anti-sex offender legislation is the Jacob Wetterling Crimes against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act was part of a landmark violent crime bill, initiated in 1994, that required law enforcement to maintain registries of convicted violent sex offenders and track where they lived after being released from prison. Initially the Sex Offender Registry was created to protect children from violent predators; however, now all “sexual offenses” are a part of the registry. Because of the all-inclusiveness, many are forced to live under rigid rules that do not add to quality community re-entry. Many could precede to live normal productive lives except they are held to the confines of legislation that do not fairly address the issue though posing more harm than good to most. The offender legislation was meant to be used by law enforcement to track violent offenders; however, now it contains people convicted of public urination, under-aged consensual sexual encounters, pornography, public nudity and even sexting which have totally watered down the intent. Again, it started out as a tool for law enforcement, but in 1996 (Megan's Law) made what was initially a tool for law enforcement, a registry that is now available to the public. Availability to the public makes many required to register, along with their families, targets of public harassment and even vigilantism for even those charged with misdemeanors of no sexual intent.
What exactly is the sex offender registry? Sex Offender Registry Defined
Sex offender registration is a system for monitoring and tracking sex offenders following their release into the community. The registration provides important information about convicted sex offenders to local and federal authorities and the public, such as offender's name, current location and past offenses. (http://www.justice.gov/criminal/ceos/subjectareas/sorna.html)
Due to the current nature of the sex offender registry, the main purpose for which it was created is now marred by the broad net of those on it. Because of the broad net and the mandatory sentence of being on the registry for 10, 25, 30 years and even life (for non-violent offenses); lives are being needlessly ruined! Teenagers are unable to attend college or create a successful life for themselves because of non-violent offenses. Being on the registry limits admission to many universities and technical colleges. It requires special permissions as well as campus notification of the presence of a sex-offender in the school. Harassment and ostracism keeps many from attending.
The registry has proven to be punishment after time served (though courts justify it by saying it's not punitive). To characterize a particular piece of legislation as “civil” or
“punitive” defines the rights and obligations that flow from that classification. Sometimes labels matter. Laws deemed civil or regulatory in nature need not meet constitutional demands traditionally associated with criminal laws. Yet, AWA (Adam Walsh Child and Safety Act)/SORNA (Sex Offender and Notification Act) are comprised of demands associated with criminal laws and are a continuance of punishment after jail-time. It has become the sentence after the sentence. (Carpenter and Belverlin, 2012). In 2006, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (“AWA”). SORNA Encompassed in the AWA is SORNA, which includes a set of regulations, penalties, and punishments for sex offenders, and a comprehensive national system for their registration. (2012) Bill Dogue, Criminal Defense Lawyer with Melbourne Criminal Lawyers states, “I have never heard that it has solved or prevented a crime. It simply appears to be a systemic harassment of people who have been punished by Courts.” Once released from jail (if they even had to go)