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August 4, 2011

New Heritage Foundation paper urges all states to adopt federal SORNA rules

A notable new paper concerning the federal efforts to have national sex offender notification rules and regulations appears here via The Heritage Foundation. The paper is authored by Charles Stimson and Maya Noronha, and is titled "Get SMART: Complying with Federal Sex Offender Registration Standards." Here is the abstact:

Just before Christmas 2009, 11-year-old Sarah Haley Foxwell was brutally raped and murdered by a convicted high-risk sex offender, Thomas J. Leggs.  Although Leggs was classified as a high-risk offender in Delaware, because of inconsistencies in sex offender classification between states, Maryland identified Leggs as “compliant.”  Congress passed the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) in 2006 to provide minimum registration and notification standards for all jurisdictions.  Yet, for several years, jurisdictions have made flimsy excuses — often the product of misinformation — for not implementing SORNA.  The time for excuses is past.  Not only are the reasons for delaying implementation of SORNA invalid, but the dangers of allowing this nation’s sex offender laws to remain so inconsistent are extraordinary.

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well we know who's footing the bills at this "NO-think" thinktank!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 4, 2011 11:00:36 AM

It is maddening how stories like this about SORNA start with a heart-wrenching tale of child sex abuse and murder. This article above seems to blame this murder on the fact that Maryland was not compliant with SORNA and the Adam Walsh act. While I don't know the particulars of the case, I fail to see anything in the Adam Walsh Act and SORNA that could have prevented this tragedy.

Would somebody explain to me a case where SORNA has prevented a sexual predator from committing a crime like this? Until then, it seems to me that this is a terrible case of fear mongering and using the memory of a murdered child to push the implementation of a law that costs too much, only gives the illusion of safety, and doesn't actually protect anybody at all.

Posted by: Eric Matthews | Aug 4, 2011 11:14:40 AM

"the dangers of allowing this nation’s sex offender laws to remain so inconsistent are extraordinary."

The most compelling reason I can see to implement SORNA is if it will prevent future assaults and if that estimated number is worth the various costs of implementation (whatever the assessment method).

The only information (in a paper specifically written to call out and correct misinformation) regarding any preventive effect is as follows:

FACT #10: Uniform registration requirements and notification protect society.

According to one study, 90 percent of sex offenders imprisoned today will be released in the future.[53] Whatever the actual recidivism rate is, there is no doubt that delaying compliance with uniform national sex offender registration minimum standards will result in:

The commission of additional sexual assaults and child sexual abuse or exploitation offenses by sex offenders that could have been prevented had local authorities and the community been aware of their presence, in addition to greater difficulty in apprehending perpetrators who have not been registered and tracked.[54]

It is well known that convicted sex offenders move to states with less restrictive laws like the State of Washington or those close to the Mexican border such as New Mexico, Arizona, California.[55] Moreover, despite what some might think, the United States is not the only country to pass laws like SORNA. Many foreign countries, such as Australia,[56] Canada, France,[57] Ireland,[58] and the United Kingdom,[59] have sex offender registries.

(bold emphasis added)

In my view, the bolded quote undermines the entire purpose of this paper. They basically admit that they have no idea whether such legislation has prevented assaults. Nor have I seen any evidence that SORNA, registration generally, or all of its collateral consequences have any preventive effect whatsoever. Without such evidence, I see very little reason to implement SORNA - only many, many costs.

Posted by: SJS | Aug 4, 2011 11:15:11 AM

The article's assumption that SORNA will provide uniform registration between the states is fallacious: the act sets minimum standards, not uniform ones.

Posted by: brunello | Aug 4, 2011 12:03:38 PM

Correction: Rather than the recidivism clause, I should have called out the remainder of that sentence - the entirely unsubstantiated "there is no doubt [of a preventive effect]" quote. There most certainly is doubt.

Posted by: SJS | Aug 4, 2011 12:22:36 PM

I just want to add that I would hope that, if the Heritage Foundation is going to put their clout behind advocating for consistent, coordinated monitoring and restrictions for *high risk* offenders, they would put just as much energy into advocating for reduced monitoring and restrictions for *low risk* offenders.

These are, of course, complementary strategies -- two sides of the same coin. The resources of the government are not limitless (thankfully, as I'm sure the Heritage Foundation would agree). So, to a large extent, every dollar and minute of law enforcement resources spent checking on, for example, whether some poor schmuck who was convicted of promoting prostitution, or peeing on the side of a building (written up as "lewd and lascivious conduct" or "indecent exposure" and settled with a fine), in the 1980s is now working within 2000 feet of a school, is a dollar and a minute *not* spent keeping an eye on high-risk/dangerous ex-offenders like Mr. Leggs. (Not to mention the substantial, and unnecessary, impact on individual liberty.)

The Heritage Foundation has recently provided some welcome, if limited, commentary on the absurd over-inclusivity of federal criminal laws. They now need to step up to the plate on the counterproductive effects of overinclusive sex-offender registration laws. Such laws, which have sheriffs and state and local law enforcement stretched thin keeping tabs on large groups of essentially harmless people, have at least as much effect in stymieing (sp?) effective protection against actual risks as does the failure to fully implement the SORNA.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 4, 2011 12:26:52 PM

Stimson suffers from a severe case of hypernomia.

Posted by: Dude | Aug 4, 2011 12:32:31 PM

Just another paper containing more 'horsepucky' from a government teet feeding right wing shill.

Posted by: james | Aug 4, 2011 1:13:18 PM

Huh ... and here I thought the Heritage Foundation supported states' rights, opposed overcriminalization, etc.. Heritage opposes federal funding for state law enforcement (e.g., Byrne grants) but apparently unfunded mandates are okay.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Aug 4, 2011 1:49:28 PM

I have to agree that complacency about keeping tabs on sex offenders is just what the doctor ordered. After all, stories about child rape and murder are just "fear mongering," and should, as has been implied, be censored. And, has also been implied, boatloads of these offenses are no more than urinating on the side of a building, but are dressed up by the Fascist/Puritan Complex as, you know, nastiness.

Indeed, complacency about keeping tabs on sex offenders is SO wonderful that a book has recently been written about it. The author is yet another fascist -- Jaycee Duggard.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 4, 2011 2:44:00 PM

Bill Otis-

Tell me how anybody here as advocated complacency on tracking high risk offenders or said that such action is 'wonderful'? The point here is that SORNA and the AWA puts all levels of sex offenders side-by-side, spreads law enforcement resources across all 800,000-odd registered sex offenders nationwide, and allows girls like Jaycee Duggard to go unnoticed in Garrido's backyard for 18 years.

SORNA uses brute-force to classify sex offenders and calls it 'objectivity' and removes any assessment of risk from the registry. SORNA and AWA reduce law enforcement attention on predatory sexual offenders by dividing resources amongst all registrants, and (despite claims by the Heritage Foundation) is punitive when applied which violates ex post facto laws as seen so recently in Ohio.

SORNA creates more problems than it solves, and I believe most detractors of AWA (and SORNA as dictated by the AWA) don't wish to abolish the SO registry altogether, but simply advocate a system that makes more sense. Some states are rejecting federal mandates for compliance because it doesn't make sense, and such rejection has been the topic of an article in this very blog.

However, I could be wrong. I ask that any readers or commenters here who want complacency in tracking high risk offenders please speak up.

Also, Mr. Otis, could you explain to me how SORNA could have prevented Sarah Haley Foxwell's rape/murder?

Posted by: Eric Matthews | Aug 4, 2011 3:14:48 PM

A 29 year old Smithton police officer was not charged for an alleged affair with a 16-year-old girl The officer was investigated by Illinois State Police for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl did not face criminal charges because the victim's father agreed to let the city discipline him. but that never happened.
This got some of us thinking and wondering what the sexual offense rate for police officers is We were able to find this documentation

Playing with numbers; according to the referenced link:

.08% (1 in 116) officers are cited for misconduct
13% of those are sex offenses/ sex related
800,000 estimated police officers in the US (that's one per RSO!)
Now let's crunch the numbers...
that makes ~ 6,873 instances of officer misconduct in a 6 month period of which 13% are sex related offenses giving us a grand (estimated) total of....893 sex offenses committed by police officers during a six month period from April to Sept 2009 or nearly 18 per state! Estimating for the year that would be 1786 sex related offenses for police officers

that makes about 3 % of all new sex offenses are committed by police (1786/63000)
Police officers make up 0.3% of the population in the US (800,000/311,745,000)
police commit one sex offense per 1,000 officers according to the numbers.
strangers commit less than 1% of all sex offenses. Police officers commit ~3%
I say forget stranger danger, we have a new worry ... blue danger or pervs in uniform

Still trying to crunch realistic numbers for sex offenses by profession. Now, according to the AP, only 500 teachers were arrested as sex offenders out of 3.5 million teachers, which makes .014% of teachers committed sex offenses or 0.7% of sex offenses were committed by teachers. Latest search was for clergy sex offenders since such a big deal is made about that. The only number we have found thats recent (2009) is 215 victims of sex offenses by clergy.

Oh yes We must not forget to add in the re-offense rate for people on the registry for new sex crimes The June 2002: Department of Justice: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994(DOJ-2002) crime from 1994-1997." (DOJ-2002 page 5)
we do know this, that during that time period (1994-1997): Of the released sex offenders 3.5% (339) Were reconvicted for a sex crime over a Three year period So for one year there was 113 RECONVICTED for a sex offense. (DOJ-2003[p2]).
Now for the plug-in (113/63000)We get 00.17% Or basically 2/10 of 1%

Here's the breakdown thus far, in the Percentage of new sex crimes
Police officers in the lead with 03.0%
Teachers 00.7%
Clergy 00.3%
Reconvicted sex offenders 00.17%

teachers and clergy And people on the registry commit fewer New sex offenses than the protectors of society, our diligent law enforcement officers. from this information it would seem that police officers are over 14 times more likely to be involved in a new sex crime and teachers over 3 times and clergy twice as likely then people on the registry. These are just reported numbers; no doubt victims of Law enforcement are coerced and threatened to shut up or else, so their number may be slightly higher.

The single most trusted segment of our society contains the most new sex offenders? Maybe before a police officer can take a position he/she should go through a sexual Predator evaluation?

All these numbers and statistics tend to confuse folks and we recognize there are folks who will refuse to
believe them at all. So, lets bring this into perspective. The June 2002: Department of Justice:
Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994(DOJ-2002) mentioned something most folks have
overlooked, and we quote:
"The fraction of all crimes that released prisoners accounted for:
The study (DOJ-2002) cannot measure precisely what fraction of all crimes the former prisoners were
responsible for during the 3 years following their release. The closest measure is the fraction of all
arrests for the seven serious crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and
motor vehicle theft). The number of "arrests" is not the number of "arrest charges (meaning a person can
be charged with multiple crimes)" but the number of different days on which a person was arrested.
In 13 states (because of missing data Florida and Illinois could not be in this analysis) from 1994 to
1997, -234,358- released prisoners accounted for -140,534- arrests (table 5). During the period in the 13
states, -2,994,868- adults were arrested for the 7 serious crimes according to the FBI.
Therefore, REARRESTS of the released prisoners were 4.7% of all arrests for serious crime from
1994-1997." (DOJ-2002 page 5)
So lets understand what this is saying, 95.3% of all serious crime was committed by who? New
Criminals, not recidivists! Yes, we must acknowledge that, it is possible that some of those "new
criminals" had records which go back many years. Like the study said, we cannot be precise!
However we do know this, that during that time period (1994-1997): OF THE RELEASED SEX
OFFENDER 24% (2,326) were RECONVICTED for non-sex offences, and, 3.5% (339) were
RECONVICTED for a sex offense. (DOJ-2003[p2]).
Finally, remember that 4.7% above, well what percentage of those folks are actually RECONVICTED
sex offenders? 2,326 + 339 = 2,665 or .08898%. Therefore, RECONVICTION of the released sex
offender prisoners was .08898% of all arrests for serious crime from 1994-1997. BY THE
Department of Justice: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994(DOJ-2002)REPORT. HIGH
RECIDIVISM????? Or another way to look at it is if a child is molested the chance that is done by a
previous convicted sex offender is less then 1/10 of 1% and the possible that it is done a friend, family
member, or a person in a trust position (teacher, principle, coach, police, therapists, etc. ) that has not
been caught is 99.9%

Posted by: Will Bassler | Aug 4, 2011 3:32:30 PM

Eric Matthews --

1. As I'm sure you know, complacency never speaks under its own name. It speaks under the name of a "nuanced approach" or "balanced use of resources" or some such thing. But it's still complacency.

2. Speaking of which: The thing that allowed Jaycee Duggard to go unnoticed was complacency (and laziness) among exactly the people who claimed to be the most concerned about reining in the offenders.

Do you think they'll ever admit to complacency? Fat chance. But complacency it was nonetheless.

3. I challenge you to name a single person who was prevented from suffering malnutrition by food stamps.

Can't do it? Of course not. Why not? Because to prevent X from happening means THAT X THEN DOESN'T HAPPEN, and therefore cannot be trotted out on stage as proof of prevention.

Same deal with preventing potential sex offenders from acting on their impulses. They're not about to call up the newspaper to say, "I was planning on molesting Sally Smith, but I didn't because the authorities were keeping close tabs on me." Simply because it can't be proved in that way doesn't mean it didn't happen -- just as, when some other Sally Smith was saved from malnutrition by food stamps, it's virtually impossible to "prove" that food stamps had a preventative effect.

4. What's going on here is exactly what goes on when I debate the ACLU on the death penalty. The ACLU will say that, with the resources we'll save by abolishing the DP, we can pay for stronger police work. Only it never seems to come to pass that the ACLU supports stronger police work. Indeed, it OPPOSES any such work, on the grounds -- which it discusses all the time -- that the police ALREADY have too much power.

Same deal here. It is said that we should shift resources away from the ubiquitous although never very well defined "low level offender" to concentrate on the "high level offender." But once we do that, will there actually be more intense scrutiny of the "high level offender"?

Sure there will -- if you were born yesterday.

For those who have seen how this gets played, what happens next is not any bigger push to monitor "high level offenders," but a push to re-classify them as -- guess what -- "low level offenders."

The point is not to make the list "smarter." The point is to make the list go away. Since, as a PR matter, this cannot be done in one fell swoop, it has to be done on the installment plan. And that's what's actually going on here.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 4, 2011 4:20:32 PM

'Will Bassler' nice job, thank you! You're certainly not intimidated about doing the 'grunt work' or digging deeper to break something down, thanks again.

Posted by: james | Aug 4, 2011 5:29:47 PM


At least in this context, do you make a meaningful distinction between a preventive effect and a deterrent effect? If so, I'm curious what it is.

Posted by: SJS | Aug 4, 2011 6:23:04 PM

Mr. Bill's argument is nuts, really nuts. He wants to punish ex post facto (per the Ohio Supreme Court) thousands and thousands on the registry because the executive branch was incompetent in the Duggard case. Such is how the executive branch takes responsibility, or maybe the state paid her $20 million because SORNA was not enacted yet and the authorities would have checked the federal registry (and not the local CA one) if SORNA existed, right Bill? No, the registry need not be on the Internet for authorities to take advantage of it. Nor does it need to be on the Internet for the public to access it if they have some probable cause of fear.

Disturbing Garrido Videos Released As Dugard Book Hits Stores
July 12, 2011 11:53 PM

A statement released Tuesday by Pierson said that law enforcement investigators knew that Garrido had committed the previous assaults at the time that they were searching for Dugard, but somehow Garrido never became a suspect.

Pierson, along with Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, law enforcement leaders and victims’ rights organizations plan to discuss some of the unanswered questions in the case at a public meeting in Sacramento on Aug. 3.

Among those questions are how Garrido, a repeat kidnapper and rapist with a history of kidnapping and raping women and girls in the Lake Tahoe area, and who was a registered sex offender on federal parole, avoided becoming a suspect in Dugard’s abduction.

The group also plans to discuss how Garrido managed to keep Dugard hidden in his backyard for 18 years while he was on federal and state parole.

Posted by: George | Aug 4, 2011 6:51:50 PM

George --

"The group also plans to discuss how Garrido managed to keep Dugard hidden in his backyard for 18 years while he was on federal and state parole."

I wonder if anyone plans to discuss how he got out on parole to begin with. Do you?

If so, which I doubt, you can start with this thought: Compassion plus complacency minus thought equals disaster.

Of course, since someone else wound up paying for this "compassionate" parole (namely Ms. Duggard), we can just whistle our way past all the unpleasantness and cheer on the next act of compassion, like making sure all the other Garrido's out there have an even easier time getting away with it.

I mean, gads George, we wouldn't want the guy back in prison!! Haven't you heard of the budget crisis? Of incarceration nation? We've got to release people, not lock them up. Surely you don't want the USA to be like Iraq or China or some really bad place like that, do you?

C'mon George, don't get shy now. The only reason Garrido was in the slammer to begin with was, you know, like, ummm, public urination or, ummmm, TEEN SEXTING. Yeah, sure, he wasn't exactly a teen, but, hey, look, we can't just let these fascist prude cops run the world.

Can we, George?

P.S. To those Nazi apologists who might claim that Garrido was in the slammer for something more serious that urination or sexting, all I can say is: Please, wake up! There IS no sex offense other than those things. Anyone who reads the comments on this blog knows that! Sheesh.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 4, 2011 7:55:06 PM


You continue to build strawmen (specific individual cases which have nothing to do with the many classified as sex-offenders). You and your God (Congress) cannot differentiate between young adult experimentation and exploration and those who pose a danger. Let's see who the leaders of the sex-offender legislation were:

Mark Foley (I was molested by a priest so all is forgiven)

John Walsh (admitted on Larry King Live that he was a sex addict)

Bill Clinton (Don't look at the Man Behind the Curtains (Monica Lewinsky Affair)). What an attempt to whitewash that he is better than some men (very few).

James Sensebrenner (Just an idiot).

Ted Kennedy (Don't look at me).

The least reputable representatives lead the biggest charge. Why is that? Are they justifying themseleves and their behavior in some sick way?

Did you read the Economist Articles of August, 2010? They clearly demonstrated the uselessness (and Great Harm) from these laws. But, when all you know is hate, it is easy to make any category of people despicable in your own mind.

That is why we are bankrupt, willful ignorance!

Posted by: albeed | Aug 4, 2011 9:31:22 PM

SJS --

"At least in this context, do you make a meaningful distinction between a preventive effect and a deterrent effect?"

In a word, no.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 4, 2011 10:51:37 PM


I know that you are ignoring me. You previously stated that you would ignore me for all the wrong reasons. I responded to that post. I have to at least admire the consistency of your views, like that of an extreme enviornmentalist.


Posted by: albeed | Aug 4, 2011 11:08:08 PM

Mr. Bill,

Straw man

A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[1] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

Care to try again? Or do you think there is no difference between parole and SORNA?

Posted by: George | Aug 4, 2011 11:41:42 PM

Bill, Federalist, MikeinCT:

In addition to being an engineer in my past life, I was also a Chess Master.

You are Cowards and Apologists for what we have now (and I do not mean Obama in this context).

Call me someone who accuses you of being a NAZI. I choose to call you ignorant!

Just send more imperfect people to the hell you call prison because, even if they have not caused any real harm, this will justify others to believe in your view of social perfection.

PS: Doug has unrealstic views also, like "LAWS", by themselves, can improve society, (or have an acceptable, perfect meaning).

This stopped a long time ago when the gubermint took over educating the masses (i.e., voters).

We just need to torture people better, to prevent crime!

Posted by: albeed | Aug 5, 2011 12:15:05 AM

George --

"Care to try again? Or do you think there is no difference between parole and SORNA?"

I think there is a disquieting similarity between those who, in the name of untutored compassion, urged parole for an evil and violent man like Phillip Garrido, and those who, in that same name, assure us with equal certitude that the only people who'll be taken off the sex registry list are just as harmless as -- so we were told -- Garrido was going to be.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 5, 2011 12:25:03 AM


You truly are an non-intellectual coward.

To think that you are educating people, that is the great travesty!

Posted by: albeed | Aug 5, 2011 12:34:41 AM

bill you better watch out! as full of it as you are right now.....someone might decided to make you their thanksgiving turkey in november!

every study released in over a decade show the registry as setup now is both USELESS and a complete WASTE OF TIME, MONEY, and POLICE RESOURCES!

it's also based on the only real u.s. supreme court decision in 2002 ILLEGAL!

wake up before the whole building falls on you! more and more states are already waking up and refusing to contiue to go along with it's illegal crap!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 5, 2011 12:53:35 AM

If these laws are essentially a public safety measure - to in some fashion deter/prevent recidivist offenses - then there should be at least some evidence that they actually do so. Particularly given how long some of them have been in place. Without that information, I don't know how you gauge whether they're worthwhile, and if so, whether there might be better ways to implement them.

Also, absent such evidence, it's one thing to speculate that these laws might have some positive effect (besides as political expedients) and therefore levy them as part of (or collateral to) a sentence, but I don't see how mere speculation can be a principled (or constitutional) basis to justify the retroactive imposition of these laws.

Posted by: SJS | Aug 5, 2011 1:56:41 AM

So, Mr. Bill, there is some slight logic in your equation. For one, you equate people who were sentenced to a year or less incarceration with those who were sentenced to fifty years, provided either is required to register. It's a "disquieting similarity." WTF? Since you brought it up, would you care to explain how the registry helped Dugard during those 18 years of captivity?

Regarding "untutored compassion," either public safety is the #1 purpose of government or it isn't; if it is, then the government should get off its ass and take DNA from everyone and plant a GPS device on everyone. Simple regulations that would happen to make crime solving almost instantaneous because both victim and perp would be tracked in time and space. Who could be against that? Get the NRA on-board and get this rolling.

Posted by: George | Aug 5, 2011 2:42:05 AM

George --

It helps to read.

What I said was that there is a similarity between (1) those who urged Garrido's parole on the grounds of compassion, not knowing (and more importantly, not caring), whether he would reoffend, and (2) those who, also citing compassion (and having thought about it just as carefully) assure us that all the people they would delete from the sex registry will be just as harmless as Garrido was thought to be.

When you replace thinking about each case one at a time with feel-good blanket "compassion," you have a recipe for disaster. When you add to that a complete lack of accountability for those pushing this compassion, the recipe becomes that much more dangerous.

Jaycee Duggard paid a horrendous price for the feel-good, everybody-deserves-a-second-chance "compassion" of those who gave a break to Garrido. Exactly that same carefree "compassion" is a principal motivating factor behind the drive for the installment plan abolition of sex registry lists, starting -- as such plans are always started -- with the assurance that the people initially taken off will be only "low level." The implication is that they're harmless. Some of them very likely are. Some of them aren't (a fact the pro-sex offender faction simply refuses to admit).

So the real question is not whether we can achieve True Wonderfulness for both arguably harmless offenders AND for potential future victims. The real question comes down to which group should bear the risk of unfairness.

You choose the offenders; I choose the victims.

Of course the real choice gets to be made by the electorate. The evidence is that they agree with me more than with you. And one reason for this is that, unlike you, the electorate cares about the next Jaycee Duggard and is willing to learn a lesson from the complacency that played such a large role in allowing Garrido to get back on the street and, once there, to escape detection.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 5, 2011 9:02:25 AM

Correction: As to which group should bear the risk of unfairness, you choose the victims; I choose the offenders.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 5, 2011 9:08:28 AM

"the assurance that the people initially taken off will be only "low level." The implication is that they're harmless. Some of them very likely are. Some of them aren't (a fact the pro-sex offender faction simply refuses to admit)."

The implication isn't that they're harmless (and I don't know who claims this), but relatively less harmful. The more salient implication is that their presence on the registry, or not, has beans to do with whether they actually are harmful.

Posted by: SJS | Aug 5, 2011 10:03:05 AM

So Bill is arguing now that the two boys from New Jersey deserve lifetime Registration. Funny how his post when the article first appeared on this blog he said it was....what was the word....crazy?

Posted by: J | Aug 5, 2011 10:32:51 AM

Here is exactly what Bill said about the boys from NJ and their prosecution and subsequent reqirement to Register.

"Every now and again, and this is one instance, the law, like the kids' display, is an ass."

So really where we differ on this subject is just how often the law is an ass.

It is clear that the Registry will have an effect on not just the Registrants, but their families too. Let me say that I agree with Bill using another quote, although slightly out of context.

"The degrading of families and family life is a tragedy, and it will have consequences."

That is reason enough for states not to adopt SORNA

Posted by: J | Aug 5, 2011 11:22:05 AM

J --

Can you tell the difference between a 14 year-old and the usual character, 10 or 20 or 30 years older, who gets put on the register?

Give it a rest. Using one gross outlier case as a reason to impeach the whole statute is an old and lame debate trick. Most people walk away from that kind of ploy in the tenth grade.

Also, can you tell the difference between a nasty middle school locker room stunt and an actual sex crime?

The first and critical problem in the case to which you refer was that the prosecutor didn't have common sense. One prosecutor with his head screwed on backwards is not even arguably a reason supporting the wholesale rejection of a statute.

Or, if you think otherwise, go persuade Chairman Leahy. Gonna try? If you do, and succeed (which you won't), your next stop is Chairman Smith. Best of luck with that too.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 5, 2011 1:28:55 PM

Bill said "When you replace thinking about each case one at a time with ____________ you have a recipe for disaster."


Bill said "Using one gross outlier case.... Most people walk away from that kind of ploy in the tenth grade."


Posted by: Dude | Aug 5, 2011 2:35:37 PM

Bill Otis (Aug 4, 2011 2:44:00 PM):

These laws aren't "keeping tabs" on anyone. Only uninformed fools believe that.

I spend time around children all the time just because and only because these BS laws exist. I observe all the situations and I wonder just how it is that the children get assaulted/attacked and I wonder how people who support the idiotic SEX OFFENDER laws dream that they could make a difference. I haven't figured it out yet but I'll keep trying.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Aug 5, 2011 4:49:36 PM

FRegistryTerrorists --

You write the following:

"Bill Otis (Aug 4, 2011 2:44:00 PM):
These laws aren't 'keeping tabs' on anyone. Only uninformed fools believe that."

By your use of a colon, it would seem you're attributing those two sentences to me. In fact, I never wrote that or anything similar, at Aug 4, 2011 2:44:00 PM or elsewhere. Am I misunderstanding you?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 5, 2011 5:05:05 PM

Bill, how many outlier cases does it take?? Did you miss the story of Frank Rodriguez on the Today Show last week?
Politicians views on the Registry may change as their young teen children or grandchildren discover Sexting. Or maybe the Politician discovers Sexting?

Posted by: J | Aug 5, 2011 7:04:50 PM


Isn't the choice between a real and significant number of (culpable
but ex-) offendors (and their innocent families) who absolutely will
bear the burdens and stigma of a stricter, less-nuanced registry and
an unknown number of potential victims who cannot be measured by any
means? Some of us prefer our laws follow quantifiable data and
impacts, not fearful fantasies.  I don't blame the empathy that favors
even a costly system that would protect against  another Jaycee
Dugard, which is still an outlier case by all accounts (many law
enforcement professionals would tell you Garrido is a rare type of
monster, not alone but rare, and would agree he shouldn't have been paroled after 11 years of a 50-year sentence). But, I do find blameworthy the logic that trades such an unknown preventative possibility, based on relatively rare cases, for a costly system that would demonstrably and harshly affect thousands of ex-offendors
without risk distinction, as well as their families. Why would nuance be so bad in this situation?

We could always prioritize resources toward more
security and prevent all sorts of horrific crimes (through universal
GPS, fingerprinting and DNA samples, and 24/7 monitoring of internet
and phone usage). However, we always have to balance security, liberty and
resources. It would be one thing if registries were
measurably effective at preventing crime or even acknowledged by
professionals as being useful (as for example, more police in
neighborhoods and on patrol). Then we'd adopt them for
murderers and all other violent criminals. Most law
enforcement professionals I work with would agree that registries do more to
placate the public's fears than prevent them from being realized. But
then again, politicians don't tend to consult the professionals, they
consult the polls and apply knee-jerk, un-nuanced approaches to
quickly sedate their constituents. Few things contribute to dangerous
complacency than the mere belief that harm is being prevented when its
not. It's kind of like requiring hands free cell usage while driving
when the distraction is 99% cognitive and not through the physical act
of holding the phone.  Law enforcement professionals know that but
politicians and the public don't want to give up their phones so they
pass some feel good, do nothing law. Same with registries. Most cops I know would also readily admit that we cannot prevent dedicated criminals from committing
heinous acts but something still needs to be done to try. But
wouldn't it be better to try with techniques that the police don't
overwhelmingly criticize as ineffective? I don't think asking these types
of questions chooses the ex-offendor over potential victims. Nor is it
complacent. It's what those capable of nuanced thought and those of us who are still stewards of the public trust and treasure might call "responsible."


Posted by: AFP | Aug 5, 2011 7:34:04 PM

J --

"Bill, how many outlier cases does it take??"

Enough so they're no longer outliers. That would be very, very, very many more than two.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 5, 2011 11:08:31 PM

AFP --

I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your remarks, but submit you are overlooking one crucial fact. The offender has a choice about his behavior; the next hundreds or thousands of victims never do.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 5, 2011 11:19:40 PM

Bill, There are many many more than just those two well known cases. That is why there is an organization in nearly every state to fight this unconstitutional law.

Posted by: J | Aug 6, 2011 1:15:37 AM

J --

1. They're still outliers, and you don't (and couldn't) portray them as anything else. By far the principal crime for which people wind up on sex registries is rape, attempted rape or some form of forced sexual touching. In addition, the huge majority are adults; many are in their forties, fifties or even sixties.

Do you deny any of that?

2. There is an organization "in nearly every state" to bring back Prohibition, to prepare for the end of the world, to get ready to welcome alien visitors, and to practice witchcraft. The fact that Cause X has an organization "in every state" tells us nothing about the analytical merit of Cause X.

3. If the law is unconstitutional, go file a case and win it. Just getting exercised about it on a blog, or proclaiming it Really Bad, lets off steam (I guess), but that's about it. You can't get something to be unconstitutional simply by declaring it to be so. Where are your cases?

When the courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court, ratify your position, more power to you. Until then, under the law, Acts of Congress are presumed to be constitutional every bit as much as defendants in individual cases are presumed to be innocent.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 6, 2011 10:18:43 AM


"Until then, under the law, Acts of Congress are presumed to be constitutional every bit as much as defendants in individual cases are presumed to be innocent."

Horse shit bill!

when a so-called "act of congress" is the DIRECT OPPOSITE of a U.S. SUPREME COURT decision it is in fact as well as law ILLEGAL ON IT'S FACE and EVERY AMERICAN has EVERY LEGAL AND MORAL RIGHT TO OPPOSE IT!

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 6, 2011 12:31:15 PM

1) Yes, of course. I have read their stories. I have met many of the people who tell of never doing anything more than opening an e-mail from a stranger or searching for music on Limewire. In Virginia you can be charged with Sexual Assault for slapping someone on the bottem.
2) OK, but I am proud of the organizations that have formed and the successes they have had so far.
3) Perhaps someone will do just that. Until then, thanks for the lively discussion ;)

Posted by: J | Aug 6, 2011 3:40:04 PM


You don't get it. Either you are too willful, or deliberately blind to see, or you are a co-conspirator.

The US IS turning into a fascist state, (I did not use the word NAZI).

There is no truth in any political public release statements, these are only methods to sway and control the MASSES.

That is why I call you an Apologist, a perhaps unwitting but sincere member of the gubermint.

I hope to have this discussion again in 5 years, if we can?

Posted by: albeed | Aug 6, 2011 11:56:35 PM

Bill Otis (Aug 5, 2011 5:05:05 PM):

No, my use of a colon signifies that I am addressing you. Nothing more.

I have to agree with you about the "outliers". I don't care for it when an opponent of Registration talks about people being on the Registries for urination, Romeo-Juliet cases, or similar things. Especially when they say Registration should be reserved for the worst offenders. The fact is that Registration should not exist, period. It is counterproductive, immoral, and idiotic social policy. And if it's not, the terrorists who support it really need to get millions more people Registered. There is no legitimate excuse not to.

I think the fact that "outliers" should not be on the Registries is simply a given. It doesn't need to be discussed. I honestly don't think anyone with any sense believes otherwise. The fact that they are on the Registries simply proves to me what a bunch of moronic scumbags we have in the U.S. that got them on there and keep them on there. It is just one more indictment of the immoral side of the U.S. Civil War of Registered Citizens. The majority of the immoral side are lazy, self-righteous, shallow-thinking scum. That's all.

"SEX OFFENDER!!!" Registration, and especially the adjunct idiocy that it has enabled and cultivated, are not acceptable. It doesn't matter how many millions of immoral people say otherwise. As long as the laws exist, I will ensure that they are not only worthless but that they are counterproductive. I will also ensure that it causes plenty of problems.

Before I was Registered, I used to have empathy for people in general. I also used to be pro law enforcement and generally respected governments. That's changed by about 170 degrees and it's getting worse every day.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Aug 8, 2011 2:04:06 PM

@ Bill Otis

You love to blather, Bill Otis. You could not substantiate the theory that the sex offender laws do what they were intended to do any more than Billy Graham could prove that God exists. If the laws worked as you suggest they do, then the Jacob Wetterling act would be the only law necessary to guarantee the safety of our kids... but that was so 1996.

Your reference to Jacyee Duggard is just one of many examples of the false sense of security you evidently get from these nonsensical laws. The sex offender laws distinctly helped her, and her kids, which is why she wrote the book – to tell everyone how, if not for these laws, she would have grown up in the backyard of a high level offender.

Not only was Jacyee Duggard protected by these laws, so too were Dylan Groene (9) and his sister Shasta (8) who were Not kidnapped by Joseph Edward Duncan III, who had been convicted of raping a 14-year-old boy in Tacoma, Wash., and had an outstanding warrant for failing to register as a high-risk sex offender and was facing charges of molesting a 6-year-old boy in Minnesota. Because these laws DO as they are intended, Joseph Edward Duncan III did Not kill Dylan and Shasta's mother, 13-year-old brother and their step-father. The SO laws prevented Joseph Edward Duncan III from repeatedly raping 9-year-old Dylan in the woods for hours. It also prevented Joseph Edward Duncan III from hog-tying Dylan with zip-ties and duct tape before he Didn't burn him alive in a camp fire while Not making Shasta watch.

Curiously, the SO laws have had a conspicuously different effect. These laws, Bill Otis, are Punitive in nature with a Vindicatory effect. They have been used to elect and re-elect politicians, line the pockets of SO profiteers, while giving fodder to fear mongering loafs like you.

Posted by: Huh? | Aug 16, 2011 11:26:23 PM

Anyone, anywhere who thinks for one minute that this politically motivated piece of law will in anyway prevent one single sex crime from occurring is living in a dreamland. No crime - is prevented!!!! Do we still have murders? But wait we put murderers in jail for life or put them to death - and we still get murders? How about robbery, spouse abuse, drugs, fraud, etc.... This law would be simply a big waste of our money and time if it didn't cause such harm on the children that we are trying to protect. Life is almost impossible already for anyone on the SO list. Now you say, that is just because they committed such a horrible crime - wait - 95% of crimes of abuse to children are committed by someone already known to the child, 50% of the 95% at committed by a direct family member - father, uncle, etc No law can prevent this from happening - it is simply not possible. That crime can only be prevented within the family itself - Government can help by providing reasonable information. The % of People who commit horrific violent crimes toward children or adults are very low in the general population and low in the existing SO list. Those are the ones we hear about and the ones our politicians focus on to win our vote. The reality is that most SO are very low risk to society and by shamming, blaming and making their livers and the lives of their family impossible don't help to prevent any crimes but does push these people to desperate measures to try and live - wake up America don't believe the bullshit anymore

Posted by: jack Thomas | Mar 18, 2014 4:42:49 PM

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