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October 10, 2009

Should domestic violence offenders have to register like sex offenders?

The question in this post is prompted by this interesting story out of New York.  The piece is headlined, "NY Lawmaker Pushes For Domestic Violence Registry: Domestic Abuse Offenders Would Have To Sign Up Similar To What's Required Of Sex Offenders."  Here are some details:

A Long Island woman is recounting the terror she and her daughter endured at the hands of her ex-husband. This as efforts are underway to create an online registry of domestic violence offenders, just like sex offenders. The Suffolk County woman and her daughter, who have asked to remain unidentified, are in hiding from her ex-husband, who police say was previously arrested for domestic violence and weapons possession.

"My ex-husband he would go into rage. He put a knife to my throat, he spit on me, he choked me, many times in front of my daughter; he would lock us in the closet, also the psychological abuse," she told CBS 2. "Currently my ex-husband is online, on every single dating site. Women are looking at his profile. He indicates he is a physician. He indicates how much money he makes."

As easily as one finds an online date, there could be a way to find out if that prospective mate has a violent history. Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) wants to create an online registry of the county's domestic violence offenders. "They'll be outed, and the community and the world will know this is the thing they do behind closed doors," said Gregory.

Gregory compares his Suffolk County legislation to the sex offender registry. It would include an offender's name, address, and photograph, creating a shame-factor for abusers. "It's going to save lives and keep people out of danger. That"s why we are pushing it 100 percent," he said.

CBS 2 spoke with several coalitions against domestic violence who called the bill "well-intentioned," but concerned it could backfire. "The primary concern is about the victim's confidentiality," said Ruth Reynolds of the Suffolk Co. Victims Information Bureau and Family Violence Center....

Still, the victim we spoke with, for one, urges lawmakers to adopt the measure. "This is why I speak out, because there should be a registry to indicate their offenses," she said.

The full Legislature will not act on the bill before November because the sponsor, Legislator Gregory, wants to add a provision that would leave it up to a judge to decide how long each domestic violence predator would be named on the registry.

Because I am generally a fan of criminal justice transparency and often fear that expressed concerns about privacy are overstated, I generally favor the notion of having all serious criminal offenders subject to basic registration requirements.  (I am troubled, however, by criminal laws that threaten severe punishments for a failure to keep a registration updated forever.) 

The key to sound registry requirements, in my view, is ensuring that these registries are accurate and can include information about the age of a conviction and true nature of the offense conduct.  (This recent commentary at The Atlantic, titled "Too Much Information, Not Enough Common Sense," speaks to some of these concerns.)  I wonder if any public policy or law reform groups are working on model criminal registry legislation.  A well-considered basic model for all these types of law would like be a real contribution to sentencing law and policy.

October 10, 2009 at 09:49 AM | Permalink

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More Scarlet Letters?

The CBS2 story you link is classic fear-mongering: an extreme criminal, a terrified woman, ONLINE DATING! Walk into the domestic violence court of any county courthouse and you will see a much different picture: lots of simple assault, mutual combat, both partners who participated in violence, domestic violence charges used as revenge, a lot of young people and, most importantly, sentenced doled out. We already punish domestic violence. We have successful anger management programs that rehabilitate offenders and prevent recidivism.

A domestic violence registry will only create a layer of excessive punishment on top of our existing system: failure to register punishable by a felony, the fear and anxiety of living under some form of supervision long after sentences are completed and time served... Offenders will fear legal challenge against its injustices just to fly under the radar.

A registry to look up people convicted of serious, violent felonies (like the ex-husband in the article) is one thing. But a registry for all "domestic violence offenders" goes too far.

Posted by: Publius | Oct 10, 2009 11:45:30 AM

The Atlantic throws a twist in there. Did this DV victim ever get an abortion? She too might end up on a list.

Posted by: George | Oct 10, 2009 12:05:25 PM

Doug. I think you are confused about this issue. I don't have a problem with the public being informed about a criminal's past. A crime by definition is a public act and therefore the information should be publicly available and in most cases *always has been*. Public registers do not take information that was in the past sealed and now bring it to light, they take information that was always public and trumpet to all and sundry. I think that distinction is critical.

Your claim that the key is "ensuring that these registries are accurate and can include information about the age of a conviction and true nature of the offense conduct" fails for what might seem like a snobbish reason. Since when has the public been able to comprehend and process the nuances of convictions. Most sex offender registers can't even distinguish between a person convicted of peeing in public vs a flasher.

I think there is this mythology that all we need to do with sex offender and other types of registers is build a better mousetrap. That would be a fair assessment if we were actually trapping mice. But registers are not mousetraps, they are vacuum cleaners picking up whatever happens to be the moral panic of the day.

The scarlet letter did not go out of fashion because it was too small or because it wasn't red enough. It went out of fashion because the public's morality changed. George's comment is spot on. Sex offenders today; abortion tomorrow.

Public registers are bad public policy because they shift the onus from the individual to the government. If you care about whether your day care provider is a sex offender or not it should be your burden to haul your ass to the courthouse and find out. It's not the public's duty to inform you of every little fear or phobia that might dim your day. A wise man once said that "to the making of lists there is no end." Amen. I don't think the role of government is to play Santa Claus...making his list, checking it twice.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 10, 2009 12:57:12 PM

Here is a simple thought experiment for any and all instinctually opposed to any and all criminal registries: imagine your sister/brother or son/daughter (or even mother/father) tells you she/he just got engaged to a person you've neven met. Would you like the opportunity to find out whether the newly betrothed has a recent conviction for a violent crime (or serious drug dealing or fraud)? I would (and I do not see how I could possibly "haul my ass" to every federal/state US courthouse in order to find out).

Will anyone honestly claim and defend the notion that they would NOT want to be able to do a basic background check on a SURPRISE new family member? If so, please do lay out the argument in the comments; it is a desire for personal empowerment and transparency that drives my instinct to favor registries for all serious criminal offenders.

Also driving my instinct is the possible (cheap) deterrent value of broad criminal registries. I suspect that we might reduce at least some incidents of drunk driving and domestic violence and firearm offenses if/when potential offenders knew that registration was a regular and required part of the criminal justice system.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 10, 2009 3:24:29 PM

Doug.

Your missing the point. The question is not whether or not you would want to find out that information. I can understand why you would. The question is why should the cost of finding out that information be dispersed among the general public. Why should my tax dollars pay for it. Why should a public register be a function of government.

If this information is in such huge demand, why not let the free market work it's magic. Hire a private detective to go do a background check. Let the free market spring up a for-profit company that people could purchase the information from and let that company run the database.

It won't happen and we both know the reason why. It would never be profitable. There no real demand for this information from the productive members of society. All it does is appeal to the chattering classes need to have something to chatter about and appeals, in this case, to their worst instincts.


Posted by: Daniel | Oct 10, 2009 3:49:01 PM

Doug, about 6-7% of child abuse is sexual abuse, which leaves about 94% of child abusers unpublished, and the majority of those abusers are female. What about charges that were not filed or were dismissed after filing? Wouldn't you want to know if this new family member was a suspect in a crime but it was not filed or was dismissed merely due to that pesky Bill of Rights? Should all police reports be on the Internet even if there were no charges or convictions? It would make sense to know of that potential for crime, which is what you are arguing: being aware of the potential for crime for the sake of self protection.

What percentage of the population are we talking about now who have either a criminal record or were suspected of a crime? Or child abuse. There is a good argument that abortions are child abuse if the fetus can feel pain. Of course, a fetus is our most vulnerable of potential citizens because they cannot tell us if they feel pain or not. You might not get a majority vote for your plan because if not the majority, then too much of the population would be directly targeted, and then there are their family members who might oppose a family member being targeted.

People would likely agree with you so long as it is not someone they know and love that is getting published.

Posted by: George | Oct 10, 2009 4:52:20 PM

Daniel: Actually, private companies are serving this role once government helps with information collection (see, e.g., sex offender iPhone app, which is apparently very popular). Also, lots of business do now pay for these background checks before hiring folks. One argument for the government being involved is to make sure all persons, not just the rich, can have reasonable access to this information. And I think it is mostly folks who overstate concerns about privacy that prevent this kind of information from being more robustly collected and disseminated.

And just why is it among the "worst instincts" for parents to be concerned about whose house their kids visit or for a small business owner to be concerned about who she employs. You are surely right that some people will use information for base purposes, but that's true of ALL information, not just criminal records.

George: Our laws and policies sensibly make lots of critical distinctions based on convictions rather than just accusations/allegations. In this context, such a distinction seems to be of special force. I am deeply concerned about actual crimes that are not identified and prosecuted, but that is a concern wholly distinct from my interest in allowing folks to have a means to find out if certain people have a serious criminal record.

Key point for you both: My views are premised on the basic norm that accurate and important information should generally be freely available unless the costs of availability likely outweigh the benefits. Are you saying that you do not think information about serious crimes is important or are you concluding that the costs outweigh the benefits. If the information is often misused, perhaps the costs will outweigh the benefits. But I am not yet prepared to assume that this information will often be misused.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 10, 2009 5:36:31 PM

We should have many registries. There should be registries of lying feminists who make false allegations in the context of a divorce. After serving a 5 year prison sentence, they should be listed on a liar registry.

All lying torts plaintiffs should be on a registry. Everyone should know they lie and litigate.

There should be a registry of all lawyers. All product and service providers should boycott them. Anyone breaking the boycott gets on the lawyer registry himself.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 10, 2009 7:28:56 PM

The lawyer wants registries. He wants ex-cons to get jobs. He wants lawyers to sue employers when they hire an ex-con on a registry, and the ex-con causes a tort. This is a lawyer trap. There should be utter resistance to unproven registration. There should be total resistance to forced hiring of ex-cons. Victims of lawsuit abuse should mount a total legal counterattack on their mortal enemy, plaintiff lawyers. They should set their employees loose in self-help and direct action against these land pirates to drive them out of town, and to save their jobs. The economic crisis is caused by lawyers in 100 ways. The unemployed could spent productive time getting rid of lawyers, as pestilential vermin overrunning their town and causing their economic woes. Invade their offices and demand an explanation for their all out attacks on our nation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 10, 2009 7:40:43 PM

Doug, accusations/allegations are already presumed reliable for sentencing purposes. It wouldn't be long before someone claims they should have known about allegations without conviction to protect themselves. Where does the slippery slope end?

More directly, imagine California published all of its databases of evil, gang offenders, drug offenders, sex offenders and child abusers (substantiated/convicted). There would be two massive problems with that. First, it would so overwhelming it would be meaningless. A boogieman really would be on every corner. Where could people live that was safe? What would happen to property values? What about the expense in loss of peace of mind in comparison to the purpose? Would people really feel more safe? People would be so terrified that they would want to know who is missing from these lists, like the accused but uncharged.

Though you want to limit it to serious crimes, the above are the evils people care about. Add all violent crime and DUI's and life would seem hopeless not only for those listed and their families, but perhaps also for everyone else because they would be so terrified. How does that cost/benefit equation work out? I've never heard of the sex offender registry preventing crimes. It has helped catch people after the fact, but a public registry is not necessary for that. Even if it has prevented a crime or two, at what cost? What would the cultural costs be if that were multiplied ten times?

But I don't doubt that this will happen. Ever since California passed a Three Strikes law to punish as many as possible for the crimes of Richard Allen Davis, it was obvious where this was going.

Posted by: George | Oct 10, 2009 9:18:38 PM

Doug. I think our disagreement really boils down to differing perceptions of what a public registry is.

You write, "My views are premised on the basic norm that accurate and important information should generally be freely available unless the costs of availability likely outweigh the benefits."

I agree with that 100%. But the question is should the government take a proactive stance it that regard, should they trumpet it "to all the nations". To me when I think of something being freely available, I don't think of advertising; I think of a lack of impediments. And a public registry smacks to me of advertising. After all, most of the information was available without a deep impediment before this modern fad of registries came about.

I realize that this is a nuanced point. You could argue that when Coke and Pepsi give out free samples of their product at road races and sporting events they are simply making their product "freely available". But I think the average man on the street is not fooled by this lingo and sees it for what it is, advertising.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 10, 2009 9:34:44 PM

These lawyer registries set up knowledge and provide notice. That means many torts involving these ex-offenders will use the registry, and start a new duty, the duty to look up tenants, employees, and even invitees prior to admission. This is a lawyer Trojan Horse to defund the productive parties of our economy.

Naturally, the majority of registrants will be male, and they promote the hunt of the productive male by the vile feminist lawyer.

Say, the innocence rate in the death penalty is around 20%, one would guess the innocence rate in sex offenses to be around 50%. There should be full liability of the registry owners for false listings. That is the fastest way to end them. Class actions should be permitted against careless registrars. All republishers and list keepers should be liable for the false listing, even if the republication is voluntarily made to a potential employer by the listed offender himself. A guilty verdict or even a confession should not be a defense in a lawsuit for false registration. The trial is a Broadway production of anti-scientific garbage. A police officer with a little experience can get anyone to confess to anything, even with a lawyer present putting duct tape on the accused's mouth.

A private entity would have to be insanely self-destructive to even consider listing anyone because of the infinite liability.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 10, 2009 10:03:55 PM

I favor registries for all felony offenses. Until the terrified soccer moms get hit personally, America won't realize how ridiculous the registry regime is in actuality. The great state of Texas has over 2700 felonies on the books. So let's get busy and register those violators who are obviously a danger to the public. . .

Posted by: Mark#1 | Oct 11, 2009 4:58:12 AM

Surprisingly, I do agree with SC that a new cottage industry law practice will arise surrounding a newly minted "duty" under tort law to check the sex offender registry. . .

Posted by: Mark#1 | Oct 11, 2009 5:01:24 AM

I am a registered sex offender, convicted in 1994. I have personally seen retroactive registration laws up close and personal. In 1995 I told friends that this would not stop with sex offenders. I am not happy when I say "I told you so," but legislators want to coddle the public into believing that these registries protect them from danger, though they do no such thing.

(1) US Department of Justice statistics now show that only 5% of sex offenders released from prison in 1994 were returned to prison for a new sex offense.

(2) Newer research is showing that sex offender registries grow at an estimated 7% per year, which reinforces other research suggesting that most sex offenses are committed by first-time offenders.

(3) This leads the public to feel that registries keep them safer only if they never hear of a new sex offense. Yet sex offenses lead the newsstories because they generate public interest (fear) and revenue-generating ratings. Thus, we are always ensured that we will need stricter registration laws.

(4) If we apply registration to other criminal categories, such as domestic violence, then we are guaranteed to follow the same cycle as we have seen with sex offender registries. This will further erode our civil liberties, especially given that a significant percentage of Americans have had some form of encounter with law enforcement--even as a juvenile.

(5) Economically this is a bad idea, as there are already areas of employment that cannot be filled due to the use of sex offender registration as a bar against employment. For instance, companies such as Dell Computers perform seven year background checks for any felony offense. Older crimes are not considered. However, a person who is registered as a sex offender is automatically rejected as per policy. This has lead to many positions for which qualified candidates (such as myself) are not considered, though we would be had we committed an offense more than seven years ago which was not registerable (such as murder or drug offenses). As the use of registration increases to cover other criminal arenas, the American public will find it harder to fill positions based on these scarlet letters, weakening the economy in general.

Posted by: Sam Caldwell | Oct 11, 2009 5:18:22 AM

Thanks for all the helpful comments, which I find quite interesting and telling. In particular, I find the reactions of George and Daniel notable and perhaps tension.

George apparently favors crime records being publicly available, but is troubled by this information being advertised; Daniel apparently thinks simply having this information publicly available will lead the public to be unduly fearful and to demand more and more information. And both seem to pivot on Daniel's highly questionable assertion that goes to the heart of my concerns: "I've never heard of the sex offender registry preventing crimes."

Notably, modern criminal registries have been growing the last 2 decades while crime has been declining dramatically. Perhaps registries explain the crime decline as much if not more than harsher punishments. All people slow down when they see police on the side of the road. Perhaps registries work this way by making sure offenders know they are being watched and thus encouraging them not to reoffend.

And, to reconnect with prior points, easy-to-access registries enable private citizens to help keep an eye on offenders. We should punish private citizens who engage in misguided vigilante behavior, but we should encourage and empower private citizens to help prior offenders stay law-abiding.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 11, 2009 11:09:30 AM

Doug. You confused me and George.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 11, 2009 12:59:41 PM

"And, to reconnect with prior points, easy-to-access registries enable private citizens to help keep an eye on offenders. We should punish private citizens who engage in misguided vigilante behavior, but we should encourage and empower private citizens to help prior offenders stay law-abiding."

Respectfully, that sounds like fairy-tale reasoning in light of all currently available information--including information chronicled in this blog.

Registries may allow a person to "keep an eye on" some offenders who may live or work very close by--while those offenders are in those "close by" areas. In an urban setting, an offender need walk only a mile before reaching an area where no one knows to "keep an eye on" him, specifically.

For over a dozen years, private citizens (aided by media junkies and politicians) have demonstrated their utter lack of interest in "helping prior offenders stay law-abiding." Every state has ample laws designed to do the opposite. Some law enforcement officials tout these laws as ways to "catch" offenders for violating a rule of paperwork who haven't, to that point, committed an actual crime.

But to your point of "Wouldn't you want to know...?" I suppose. If I felt strongly enough, I'd ask the guy to trot down to the nearest law enforcement station for a complete criminal background check. I'd even pay for it. Sure, it'd be awkward as all hell, but if it would "save one child," wouldn't a little personal discomfort and the $10 be worth it? For many, the answer is no. Hence the fervor for impersonal, maintained-by-someone-else, accessable-anonymously registries.

However, I'd also keep in mind the small percentage of attacks that are reported, let alone those that result in convictions. I'd keep in mind that anyone with a fair amount of skill and motivation can steal an identity. In other words, if my gut told me the guy was a dangerous creep, I wouldn't put any weight in the fact that some background check said he wasn't.


Posted by: Rika | Oct 11, 2009 1:11:58 PM

Professor, with all due respect, shouldn't the onus be on you to cite examples of the registry preventing crime? Let's start with Megan's Law.

Ironically, the “true” story of Megan Kanka is open to factual dispute. At the core of supporters’ claims for Megan’s Law was the assumption that Richard and Maureen
Kanka were in fact unaware that a sex offender lived nearby. Yet this assumption may not be true. Several of the Kankas’ neighbors stated that they knew a sex
offender—albeit, not Timmendequas himself—lived in the house where Megan was killed. 246 Moreover, they asserted that Maureen Kanka admitted she knew that this
individual lived there. 247 The Kankas fervently denied this claim.248 One neighbor was very critical of what he saw as an intentional camp aign of denial within the
neighborhood:

"When I read that in the papers [that neighbors had no knowledge that three sex offenders were living on the block], I was pissed. They all knew what Joey Cifelli did. It was common knowledge. How could those neighbors go to bed at night and sleep and say that they didn’t know that he was a pervert?" 249

If the Kankas did know that a sex offender lived next door, and if the bill’s supporters were accurate in claiming that notification would allow good parents to protect their children, the resulting implication would have been that the Kankas were partially culpable for Megan’s death. In addition, it would have made the Kankas’ advocacy for Megan’s Law look downright deceitful. Whether or not the Kankas knew their neighbor was a sex offender, the remarkable thing is that not a single legislator was willing to question the Kankas’ account.

246. Tim O’Brien, Would Megan's Law Have Saved Megan?, 145 N.J. L.J. 109 (1996). The person who lived in the home, Joey Cifelli, had been previously convicted of carnal abuse, sodomy, and impairing the morals of a nine-year-old girl. Id.
247. Id.
248. Donna Murphy Weston, Megan’s Law Based on Fallacy: Did Parents Know About a Molester? , RECORD (Bergen County, N.J.), July 9, 1996, at A1, LEXIS, News
Library, NJREC File. Richard Kanka responded that the New Jersey Law Journal wanted to “undermine what me [sic] and Maureen have been doing all these years.”
Id.
249. O’Brien, supra note 246, at 109.

(Making the Case for Megan’s Law: A Study in Legislative Rhetoric, DANIEL M. FILLER, Indiana Law Journal.)

Do they reduce recidivism?

There is no research, however, indicating central registries actually reduce recidivism. A study in Washington State during the first years of registration found no statistically significant differences between offenders who were subjected to notification (19% recidivated) and those who were not (22% recidivated) (Lieb, 1996). Levenson (2003) notes, “Driven by revulsion, anger, and fear that far exceed responses to other types of crimes in our society, sexually violent predator statutes may succeed in providing an illusion of public safety. The true efficacy of these laws, however, remains undetermined” (p. 19).

(The Vilification of Sex Offenders: Do Laws Targeting Sex Offenders Increase Recidivism and Sexual Violence? Hollida Wakefield, Institute for Psychological Therapies, Journal of Sexual Offender Civil Commitment: Science and the Law, 1, 141-149. (2006).)

Your own post from Febuary:

Study on sex offender registration in New Jersey suggests its ineffectiveness

Do the registries act as a deterrent, yes, FOR THE FIRST YEAR. After that, they are counter productive.

Another quote from your own post. Are sex offender registries effective?

"Our results correspond with a model in which community notification deters first-time sex offenses, but increases recidivism by registered offenders due to a change in the relative utility of legal and illegal behavior. This finding is consistent with work by criminologists suggesting that notification may increase recidivism by imposing social and financial costs on registered sex offenders and making non-criminal activity relatively less attractive."

To complicate the issue even further, Recidivism high among mentally ill inmates .

If they were effective, "if it saves just one child" might have some merit. But if not effective, "if it saves just one child" really means "I don't like the Bill of Rights."

Posted by: George | Oct 11, 2009 3:13:49 PM

George: Minor quibble. "...with all due respect," When addressing lawyers, that is not necessary, nor appropriate. They are cult criminals. You are an owner of the law. They respect you, perhaps.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 11, 2009 3:30:33 PM

S. Clause, I respect (almost all) lawyers and judges. The real problem is that the laws are so complex we can't defend ourselves without help and we can't understand without lawyer translation. The laws are so complex lawyers must specialize and they still make honest mistakes at law due to misunderstandings.

There are exceptions as with any profession, but the lawyer bad rap is mostly due to the media (and perhaps the adversarial system). As long as hundreds or thousands of laws are passed each year, we will need lawyers, and lots of 'em.

Posted by: George | Oct 11, 2009 3:42:22 PM

George: The law is your chattel, like a toaster. You paid for every jot and dot with hard earned taxes. Do you think laws are discoveries of nature, and come up unreadable from the bowels of the earth? Therefore, we need specialists to help us with them.

The lawyer does that on purpose. It learned this method from French monks that started this racket. Make the rules infinite in number, so that everyone is a violator of something, and a lawyer can use one of these violations as a pretext to seize your assets. Then make them inscrutable to catch the unaware, and to force the hiring of lawyers. Next add two foreign languages to them, French and Latin, the language of a church, in case someone bothers to try to read the English. That means the lawyer can do as he pleases, and confiscate the assets of the productive. No one can verify the legal basis of this mass crime. "You blasphemed God by eating meat on Friday. You really should undergo the autodafe (burning at the stake). However, if you forfeit your estates to the Church, we can get you dispensation." Sound familiar at all? It is the business method of the lawyer today.

The content and number of laws is part of the massive criminality of the criminal cult enterprise in control of the three branches of government. Only simultaneous mass arrest of the leadership, an hour's fair trial, and summary execution in the basement of the courthouse can save this country from this, the most powerful criminal syndicate in history.

An Amendment should pass voiding all legal utterances rated above the sixth grade reading level. The use of any foreign language should be criminalized, since it is theft. I said to a top economist, isn't rent seeking a form of armed robbery? He said, absolutely it is.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 11, 2009 5:24:49 PM

George: you have put your finger on the key issue of who has the proof burden in terms of the efficacy of registries, an issue on which I suspect we disagree.

As I noted before, I am always inclined to FAVOR accurate and important information being freely available unless/until it appears the costs of availability likely outweigh the benefits. Thus, I put the burden on opponents of registries to show me that they do more harm than good.

That said, I have little doubt that when registries are made too broad (e.g., include folks who pled to public urination) or are full on inaccuracies, the benefits may readily be outweighed by the costs. But, I return to my hope and belief that a model registration statutes could do more good than harm.

In the end, I will be real surprised if we were to put the registry genie back in the bottle. That's why I want to advocate for better registries, rather than for eliminating an information tool that many people consider beneficial (in part because the average persons face none of the harms unless/until they know someone on a registry).

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 12, 2009 9:45:30 AM

Doug, ironically, the reason for expansion of the registry could likely be that the recidivism of other offenders is higher than for sex offenders. I agree the genie will not be put back in the bottle, unless something extremely drastic happens, like a serial killer killing many found on the lists, which the government would try to keep under wraps like the California DOJ suppressed the California registry murder. However, the expansion of other (administrative) punishments could help prove that registries are punitive and were all along. You do not intend punishment but history reveals punishment is inevitable. Both Smith v. Doe and Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v. Doe are narrows rulings. Both leave open any strict scrutiny issue, and promoters of the law will have some burden of proof then. Indeed, with the less heinous crimes, like murder (only partly facetious), or widespread identity theft of "normal" criminals that you want to expand the list to, may make it easier for the court to change its mind to a degree (like requiring a hearing on dangerousness).

Another option would be requiring the person to wants to view the expanded list to go to the police station or government office, pay a small fee, show their ID, and state their reason for wanting to view it, like, as you say, before marriage, which is how England does its sex offender registry. Indeed, my guess is that it would be possible to prove almost all registry Internet traffic is by lookie-loos rather than by persons with a reasonable personal motive.

But then I think the court should limit trial by media and the First Amendment should be limited like in England, which is a pretty radical view, so it is not an illogical jump from there to thinking criminal records should be limited to a need to know basis.

But then perhaps you model law would take all of this into consideration. However, the model law will likely come from the American Legislative Exchange Council and be drafted by those with a vested interest in profit for security.

Posted by: George | Oct 12, 2009 1:14:49 PM

The genie is easy to put back in the bottle. Do what the lawyer is doing to manufacturing, the American family, and soon, medical care. Destroy them by suing people. Even an unsuccessful, frivolous lawsuit would deter registration by massive defense costs, embarrassing revelations from discovery.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 12, 2009 4:15:57 PM

actualy based on these!

" Both Smith v. Doe and Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v. Doe are narrows rulings. Both leave open any strict scrutiny issue, and promoters of the law will have some burden of proof then."

Just about EVERYTHING passed concerning sex offenders EXCEPT new sentencing rules IS ILLEGAL.

AND sooner or later some idiot DA is going to drop it back in the Supreme Courts lap at that point faced with their own decision on this it will all DIE and the state will be right back were they were before they were legal but with the heavy burden of a supremem court ruling that they are in FACT PUNISHMENT and ILLEGAL AFTER THE FACT.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Oct 12, 2009 4:51:02 PM

I'm not a lawyer, just a person. It is a puzzle to me that highly educated, highly intelligent, people with sophisticated linguistic skills, cannot see that the founding fathers would never have approved of a registry for one type of crime, and not for others. In fact, I would suspect that the founding fathers would just plain not have approved of a registry. As far as ex post facto registries, I think they would turn over in their graves.

Posted by: DLJ | Oct 12, 2009 9:27:51 PM

I find all this talk very intresting, I work within the criminal Justice System in England and we too have a sex offenders register. In more recent times there has been criticism of this register for not being updated accurately and failing to know the whereabouts of certain dangerous sex offenders. If we cannot manage to keep an accurate record of sex offenders then i fail to see how we in England could impliment a whole raft of other registers... especially at a time when the public sector is expecting another 10% in cuts!

Posted by: Alex | Oct 13, 2009 4:36:35 PM

As I read this potential law, I am very pleased at the prospect of my husband perhaps someday being on a list to prevent what he has done to my family and his first family. You see, he found me on a online dating site after I was newly widowed and in retrospect, vulnerable to this predator. He assured me his first wife and young son were lying about him being abusive. Shamefully, I believed him. Now, with a three year old daughter together, I must go through the system and heartache all over. He is a predator much like most domestic abusers. He was in a relationship quickly after being arrested and removed from our home (~one month)and initially presents well. He has left 3 children in total in his wake, abandoning his first two when the courts would not allow him to see the children on his own terms. He hid the serious nature of his psychiatric history and that of a brother. His family has supported him and enabled him in continuing with his abusive tendencies. Aside from my family, I pray for every future man, woman , and child who has contact with him. Recidivism is HIGH, despite what was earlier stated, the statistics support this truth. So a registry? You bet it is a good idea...and revenge allegations? These cases are closely scrutinized and I, for one, would welcome a forensic evaluation any day.

Posted by: Mary | Oct 25, 2009 10:36:18 PM

No they should not. But filing a false domestic violence incident should be made
a felony.

Posted by: Joe Russel | Nov 14, 2009 2:58:19 PM

Thanks for that great report. I'm attorney and really enjoyed reading your words.
Track records in a background of over than 300 millions crimiminal records. http://www.backgroundcriminalrecord.org. Thanks again

Posted by: Tony skateboard | Feb 21, 2010 1:36:42 PM

They should be accused not like sex offenders but also under strict conditions.

Posted by: Sex Toys | Mar 12, 2010 9:31:54 AM

This may be a good idea in some circumstances. I was convicted of Assault IV- Domestic Violence and Menacing- Domestic Violence in 2007 in Oregon- for getting in a scuffle with my mother, NOT A SPOUSE OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER, and if they enact a law like this in Oregon, my only options would be a: to commit suicide, or b: have someone smuggle me out of the country, preferably to Canada or Ireland, where I would start over, since I would not register for something that didn't involve a spouse and will kill myself in jail or commit suicide-by-cop. I will not tolerate people having to register like sex offenders if they were in fights with family or were in self-defense, as with a relative, spouse or significant other in an illicit drug-induced psychosis attacking me. But for incorrigible spousal abusers, this may be a good idea, but would induce the same kind of prejudice and violence that sex offenders get, including aggravated assault and murder in the form of "street justice".

Posted by: 67FulviaSport | Aug 8, 2010 12:49:43 PM

My brother is a victim of domestic violence from his ex-wife. In the UK, it seems that unless you are female, reporting anything like this is a waste of time. He would have to be believed firstly before any action could be taken against his ex, and then for her to become registered. So here in the UK at least, there has to be and should be a greater recognition of violent women. Thanks for the article, very interesting points of view from the contributors. (In accordance with your request, I'm just an ordinary working man who found your blog while researching this subject.)

Posted by: Bob Stevens | Jul 6, 2011 7:47:50 AM

A sex offenders list should be exactly what it says, to include anything but sex affenders would be so wrong. Domestic violence and sex offenders couldn't be further apart, whilst domestic violence is terrible it shouldn't be included on a sex offenders list.

Posted by: Sex Dolls | Oct 18, 2011 7:01:14 AM

My name is Nina: I am an Advocate for children with special needs/domestic violence and 2nd degree Black belt/Instructor. It is about time that the Domestic violence offenders be registered. This is an ongoing battle even when a judge orders the offender to stay away from the victim, this piece of paper....is actually worth nothing because it doesn't stop the predator! What's the worst you can do with the piece of paper, aside from documenting his/her violence, throw it at them? Enough is enough. Victims are tired from running for their lives. It has to take place Now!!!

Posted by: Nina | Sep 3, 2012 12:10:26 AM

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