Skip to comments.Sex-offender registration isn't as helpful as it looks
Posted on 02/13/2003 9:18:57 AM PST by Clint Williams
Requiring sex offenders to register with police has become a popular way to give the appearance of protecting people from being attacked.
But appearances can be deceiving.
Every state, including Illinois, has some version of "Megan's law" -- a law named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka of New Jersey who was raped and killed by a child molester.
The idea is to let residents know there is a potential sexual predator in their midst. That way neighbors can keep their children away and/or watch for suspicious behavior.
But the laws have raised civil liberty concerns that requiring sex offenders to register could subject them to harassment or vigilantes trying to run them out of town even though they have served their prison sentences.
A recent study in California by The Associated Press shows another problem with such laws: Some offenders are not registering as required. Others are moving without notice after initially registering.
The AP said the state doesn't know where to find about 44 percent of the 76,350 sex offenders who have registered in California at least once. Their addresses are invalid.
Failing to register a current address is against the law, but enforcement is lacking. And the sex offenders seem to know it.
The public must avoid getting a false sense of security from laws on the books requiring sex offenders to register.
There could be a convicted sex offender living next door who hasn't registered, or a child molester who has never been caught.
Don't count on registration laws to protect you and your loved ones. Use common sense, too.
This means, as the editorial says, Megan's Law is not making you safe. Please use common sense, so that none of your loved ones becomes a victim.
From time to time I see reports in the paper of "sweeps" here. Penalty includes up to 5 years in prison, I think.
The following comment is directed to The Pantagraph, I'm not flaming you.
NSDT (No $hit, Dick Tracy)
Notice ,one is listed
That's like saying that murder laws don't work because some people ignore them. Thus, the public thinks it is protected from murder, but really it is not.
Anyway, I do have a problem with the ex-post facto application of these laws. There are plenty of people who have plead to misdemenor sex offenses to avoid the cost of a trial, when they might well have been found not guilty. I know of one guy who stripped naked in his own house when his A/C was broken. A 12 year old girl in a neighbors house saw him. To avoid trial, he plead to a misdemenor think he would just put it behind him.
Granted, what he did was stupid, but now he has to register as a sex offender. The web pages don't typically give details of crimes. So everyone thinks that he is a flasher who goes around exposing himself to kids, when it fact it was an innocent mistake.
At the time that he plead, there was no Megan's law. Had there been, he would have fought the charges.
There's another aspect to the ex post facto application. I remember reading a few years ago (can't remember when) that a court (SCOTUS?) said that in order if there is no violation of civil rights involved, then they could be applied ex post facto. Then he went on to say there is no violation of civil rights.
Maybe it's not such a bad thing. After all, in Germany and Switzerland everyone registers their residence with the local or canton police and no harm that I can see has come of it. But something still annoys me about it...