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May 1, 2013

New big Human Rights Watch report assails placing juve sex offenders on registries

Us0513_reportcoverAs reported in this new AP piece, Human Rights Watch today released a big report urging governments to stop placing juveniles on publicly accessible sex-offender registries. Here are parts of the AP account of the report and reactions thereto:

Human Rights Watch said its report, being released Wednesday, is the most comprehensive examination to date of the impact that registry laws have on juvenile sex offenders. "Of course anyone responsible for a sexual assault should be held accountable," says lawyer Nicole Pittman, the report's author.  "But punishment should fit both the offense and the offender, and placing children who commit sex offenses on a public registry — often for life — can cause more harm than good."

The report says the laws, which require placing offenders' photographs and personal information on online registries, often make them targets for harassment and violence. In two cases cited in the report, youths were convicted of sex offenses at 12 and committed suicide at 17 due to what their mothers said was despair related to the registries.  One of the boys, from Flint, Mich., killed himself even after being removed from the list....

The registry laws generally include restrictions that prohibit offenders from living within a designated distance of places where children gather, such as schools and playgrounds. "They often struggle to continue their education," Human Rights Watch said.  "Many have a hard time finding — and keeping — a job, or a home."

According to Human Rights Watch, 747,000 adult and youth sex offenders were registered nationwide as of 2011. The organization said it was unable to quantify how many were juveniles, but it interviewed 281 youth sex offenders while preparing the report, as well as defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials and victims of child-on-child sexual assault....

Under a federal law, the Adam Walsh Act, states are required to include certain juvenile sex offenders as young as 14 on their registries.  Some states have balked at complying with this requirement, even at the price of losing some federal criminal-justice funding. Other states have provisions tougher than the federal act, subjecting children younger than 14 to the possibility of 25-year or lifetime listings on public registries.

According to Pittman, it's fairly common in about 35 states for juveniles to be placed on public sex-offender registries.  Other states take that step only for juveniles convicted of sex offenses in adult court, she said, while a few place juvenile sex offenders only on registries that are not accessible by the public.

The report recommends that all juveniles be exempted from the public registration laws, citing research suggesting they are less likely to reoffend than adult sex offenders. Short of a full exemption, the report says, registration policies for juveniles should be tailored to account for the nature of their offense, the risk they pose to public safety and their potential for rehabilitation....

Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, said his organization would not support a blanket exemption of juveniles from the sex-offender registries. But he said prosecutors should have the discretion to require registration or not, based upon each case.

"If a 15-year-old 'sexted' a picture of him or herself, it is safe to say that prosecutors would take appropriate steps to ensure that person isn't required to become a registered sex offender for life," Burns said in an e-mail. "If a 17-year-old had committed multiple violent sex offenses against children, registration as a sex offender would most likely be recommended."...

Mai Fernandez, of the center for victims of crime, said the entire sex-offender system — covering both juveniles and adults — is flawed and needs an overhaul.  "If you know a young person living in your neighborhood has raped someone, there are things that should kick in — tighter supervision, more services — to be sure that child doesn't commit that crime again," Fernandez said.  "That's more important than the registry."

The full 111-page HRW report, which is titled "Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US," can be accessed via this link in both complete pdf and on-line form. Here is how that page describes the report:

This 111-page report details the harm public registration laws cause for youth sex offenders. The laws, which can apply for decades or even a lifetime and are layered on top of time in prison or juvenile detention, require placing offenders’ personal information on online registries, often making them targets for harassment, humiliation, and even violence. The laws also severely restrict where, and with whom, youth sex offenders may live, work, attend school, or even spend time.

May 1, 2013 at 03:53 PM | Permalink

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Comments

many icky perv pedophiles commit their first contact offenses against young children as teenagers. To have a blanket exclusion of teenaged offenders from the sex offender registry and residency restrictions will prevent the opportunity to protect the community from these dangerous icky pervs.

i do agree that there should be more flexibility - especially in regard to removing juvenile sex offenders from the registry later - and that mandatory listing is a bad idea - but the default presumption should be that anyone who commits a forcible sex offense or a contact offense against a young prepubscent child should be listed on the sex offender registry for life. And it should be on the burden of the sex offender to show why in the particular case why they should not be listed.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | May 1, 2013 4:08:20 PM

Agree w/Erika

| "Of course anyone responsible for a sexual assault should be held accountable," says lawyer Nicole Pittman, the report's author. "But… placing children who commit sex offenses on a public registry — often for life — can cause more harm than good….Many have a hard time finding — and keeping — a job, or a home." |

1.The good is that they are monitored more than if not on registry.
The bad, like Dzhokhar being shot in the neck, is 'the bed they made'.

2.Adult offenders don't have a hard time keeping a job? If you do an adult crime, you earn adult scrutiny.

Posted by: Adamakis | May 1, 2013 4:35:55 PM

P.S.
We'd love to have our family member's attacker "severely restrict[ed] where...", but we can't even get a Protective Order for anyplace but 1!
This is real life, not the Pittman Esq. [per]version.

Posted by: Adamakis | May 1, 2013 4:40:06 PM

Erika,

You slip into your comment the qualifier "anyone who commits a forcible sex offense or a contact offense against a young prepubscent child," as if that is just a restatement of the actual state of affairs vis a vis who is put on these registries. Unfortunately, that is who the general public *thinks* is on the registries, but almost all of them are much broader. If the registries were limited to the classes of offense you describe, all of our conversations about this topic would be different.

Posted by: anon | May 1, 2013 5:04:10 PM

Erika:

Grow-up you icky VFL! The puritanical SO laws as embraced by you and Adamakis are a POS.

Learn what is force, threat, coercion and incapacitation. Learn about age differences.

I don't care if you say the majority of SO's are there for these reasons. That a significant proportion who are on the registry do not fall under these terms (and I don't mean pre-pubescent abusers who should be shot) is a great injustice.

An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. (Who said that?) You don't need victims, even pretend made-up victims!

Posted by: albeed | May 1, 2013 5:29:25 PM

Erika, there is no such thing, in reality, as "removal" from the registry, if the registry is public. Once you are on there, an internet trail is created, and those don't disappear. Indeed, many websites scour the registries and retain all names forever, even if the official resitries later remove them. Thus, as a techincal matter, once you are on the registry, there is no way to undo the damage or stigma.

Posted by: Subethis | May 1, 2013 6:01:35 PM

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." ~ H.L. Mencken

Posted by: George | May 1, 2013 7:07:22 PM

The SO Registry should be done away with, period.
No one is "safer" because there is a registry. It is merely further punishment for those who have already served their time.
It doesn't matter if you are an adult or juvenile on the SO Registry, there are restrictions as to where you can live, get a job, etc. If the government continues to put anyone on this "Witch Hunt List", we are going to end up with more homeless, jobless, suicidal people who have no chance of resuming any kind of life once they get out of prison.
And people, the general public has been led to believe that everyone on the SO Registry committed some heinous act with a child or raped and murdered someone. The fact is that you can end up in prison and then on the registry for skinny dipping in your back yard pool or taking a quick whiz behind your backyard bushes, if your nosey neighbor happens to see you and report you. Time to get a grip america!.

Posted by: kat | May 1, 2013 8:18:40 PM

"Under a federal law, the Adam Walsh Act, states are required to include certain juvenile sex offenders as young as 14 on their registries. Some states have balked at complying with this requirement, even at the price of losing some federal criminal-justice funding."

Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't full compliance with the Adam Walsh Act cost a state more money than it receives in ear-marked federal funding?

Is there any evidence-based study showing that registries identifying "icky pervs" or residency restrictions actually make us safer?

Posted by: ? | May 1, 2013 8:57:24 PM

Erika: I propose a registry of vile feminist lawyers (VFL's), along with their male running dogs, including over-reaching prosecutors and legislators. Then shun them or get shunned. All product and service providers must refuse them service. They are in charge of the three branches of government and responsible for 100% of social and economic problems. This will be a prelude to the day when the entire lawyer hierarchy is arrested for its insurrection against the constitution, is given an hour's fair trial, then summarily shot in the head in the basement of the court house.

Then all crime can end, because the public will have a duty to kill all violent criminals. And the deceased have a low recidivism rate, including violent rapists of children. You actually want no harm to come to them or you would lose your job. You want just paper shuffling that does nothing to protect the public.

Then our economic growth can reach its natural 10% a year. Then the attacks on the family from all sides can ends, as well as the attack on all productive entities. The lawyer is at the root of all social problems. Get rid of the hierarchy.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 2, 2013 12:40:42 AM

?: To follow on your points.

Sweet little Jessica was taken from her bed. She was still alive, in a closet, when the agents of the prosecutor,the police, questioned her abductor, at the front door.

Megan made the mistake of opening her door to the neighbor from across the street. Gone.

Registries are just government make work paper shuffling.

The Daubert standards for expert testimony apply to the criminal law. The registration laws should be tested in federal court for their failure to meet such a simple standard.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 2, 2013 1:03:24 AM

:: George / H.L. Mencken :: "The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels."

Menken was a dishonourable scoundrel himself, itching to defend his pals.
Au contraire, unlike the Bolsheviks, the French guillotine-lovers, and Anarchists "for Peace", the Founders of America pursued perennial natural rights; not Mencken's perverted and evolving human rights.

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
--John Adams, 10/11/1798 (Address to the military)
* * *
P.S.:
Mencken was the worst sort of (1) indiscriminate cynic and (2) hypocritical judgmentalist, a "libertarian" who ridiculed liberty for the "average man" [the preferred model for today's progressive]:

(1) "Anyone silly enough to believe in such transparent quacks as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill
leaves the world little the loser by departing from it.”--Menken,1934, Gridiron Club Dinner

(2) "The theory behind representative government...There is little support for that theory in the known facts..."
"Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority."

{"a severe critic of America's chaotic democracy who preferred
[Darwinism and] Nietzsche's orderly "new Germany,""}
--Menken, 1956, Minority Report (Knopf); J.Yardley, 1/17/02, The Atlantic

Posted by: Adamakis | May 2, 2013 10:17:55 AM

I work as a reader/writer.

Several other countries with sex offender registries keep these registries confidential among law enforcement officials to prevent the public from succombing to lynch mob rule. There had been cases in Great Britain where a registry had ERRONEOUS information about an offender's address, etc., in which an enraged mob went to what they thought was the offender's address. Instead, they forcibly entered ANOTHER couple's apartment which a law-abiding elderly couple had rented. (Neither member of this couple had any prior criminal record!). Once they forced their way into the apartment, the mob beat up the elderly couple and ransacked the dwelling, stealing many valuables for their own personal gain; not to aid any child victim of a vile sex crime! It took several members of the local police force to restore order and to go after the thugs. On another incident, a mob vandalized what they thought was the sex offender's automobile, but which turned out to belong to somebody who had nothing to do with the former offender they were hunting down.

Besides encouraging lynch mob rule, the registry actually can ENDANGER the general public and the very law enforcement personnel to whom we empower to keep our streets and children safe. A disgruntled sex offender might decide that he or she has nothing to lose any more by retaliating against the registry by either targeting police and registry staff with death by means of an illegally obtained fire arm. Case in point: in December of 2009, a registered sex offender from Arkansas who had subsequently moved to Tacoma, Washington, entered a Starbucks Coffee place and shot and killed four off-duty police officers before a fifth office finally killed the assailant. In another case, a Michigan sex offender decided to murder the prosecutor that made him register. In Chicago, a sex offender sent death threats to the city Attorney General.

Enforcement of sex offender registration/residency restriction laws places an extra strain on already under-staffed and under-paid police departments who have enough on their plates by going after REAL crimes like actual rape, actual murder, robberies, drive-by shootings, drug-selling, etc. without having to spare a huge chunk of their personnel to check on somebody whose only offence is merely refusing to register. This policy also ENDANGERS the police officers involved in these registry sweeps if it provokes a non-registered sex offender into resisting arrest, into booby-traping his or her home in anticipation of a police raid, or into retaliating against his landlord or landlady by vandalizing and pillaging the apartment.

A suggested remedy: if we use registries, then RESTRICT their use to law enforcement personnel with strict penalties for any breach of confidentiality. It's one thing for officers to have residential workshops to teach their families on how to protect their children and on how to teach children to protect themselves from stranger-danger crimes; it is another thing to pursue policies that only stir up lynch mob hysteria.

Posted by: william r. delzell | May 2, 2013 10:55:45 AM

william r. delzell (May 2, 2013 10:55:45 AM):

This is a war so there are going to be casualties. Just think, instead of all this Registration, etc. nonsense going on, all these people could be actually trying to reduce sex crimes. They could possibly do some good.

Good for the people fighting back and murdering people who work for the criminal regimes. That's an excellent start. I'm personally not going to break the law or advocate that, but I am going to celebrate it.

I've been a bit conflicted over the years. One of my goals is to ensure that the Registries are counterproductive and that they cost the absolute most amount of time, money, and effort to maintain. I have not allowed law enforcement employees of the criminal regimes onto my properties for years so they are not able to effectively visit me to "verify" anything. So they rarely try to come around. But since the whole thing is stupid, does that ultimately save them time, money, and/or effort? I mean, they shouldn't be wasting time like that anyway.

Or, on the other hand, does it cause them to use more difficult means to "verify" my information? In that case, it could cost them more.

I don't think it matters too much for me personally because I'm not going to let them around me regardless. They can take their stupidity around people who will put up with it. And no one listed on a Registry should.

Interesting side note - I think one of my "better than you" neighbor's homes was being robbed yesterday. But guess who will never tell anyone about it?

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | May 2, 2013 12:45:10 PM

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
--John Adams, 10/11/1798 (Address to the military)


You are correct. If defined by present law most of our founders would not be moral today. They would be scoundrels. "The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." ~ said H.L. Mencken, too late.

Posted by: George | May 2, 2013 4:32:24 PM

VFL Male Running Dog in Chief endorses 15 as age for sex, coming close to the policy argument of the Supremacy. Thank you, Mr. President for your correct analysis. Give the 14 year old all privileges and duties of adulthood, now. The vote, contract liability, smoking, liquor, the works, including the death penalty for repeat violent offenders. Restore the state of civilization for the past 10,000 years.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MED_MORNING_AFTER_PILL?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-05-02-18-47-26

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 2, 2013 11:46:45 PM

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