Friday, November 14, 2008

ADVANTAGES & DISADVANTAGES OF SEX OFFENDER LAWS

We want to hear from everybody on this. We want you to respond to this blog item, and tell us the advantages and disadvantages of each aspect we've listed, and if you think we've missed something, let us know and we'll add it.  Below is just the start on this, to get people started.  We are working on adding our thoughts to these items offline, and will add them as time goes on.

We want to get this list together, so we can all see the good and bad of these issues, and so we can determine if they will actually work as they were originally intended to work.

We want to hear from all sides.  And as someone responds, we'll add that to the list, and add our comments to it, and if anybody else responds to a specific item, we'll add their response as well.

Eventually we will have one big list that we can see.

NOTE: Please check other comments before posting something. It may have been said already, and just saying the same thing will make this more difficult.  Also, if you have any links to point to an article or study to prove an issue, then please add the link as well.

When you leave comments, try to do like others have, and put your advantages under the word advantages, and the same with disadvantages, so we can easily figure out what you are saying, and not have to guess.  Also, do not ramble on, just give us a short advantage or disadvantage, and we can elaborate on it as time goes on.

P.S. We are playing both sides in the items we've initially posted below, devil's advocate, etc.  We would like to have people from the general public post comments here, so we can get their side of the issues as well, not just what we think they may be.

Here is a quote from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, and how true it is.  Keep this in mind when you read the items below:

"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."

  1. GPS TRACKING (GPS Articles)
  2.  
    • Advantages
    •  
      1. The companies selling the GPS devices, and those who have stock in the GPS market, get rich.
      2. Creates a new job for those people needed to monitor the offenders.
      3. The state gets grant money.
      4. It is supposedly cheaper than housing people in prison.
      5. It can allow more people to bail out of jail while awaiting trial.
      6. It can help determine probation violations.
      7. It can eliminate suspects from some crimes.
      8. It can help in the investigation of some crimes.
       
    • Disadvantages
    •  
      1. Cost a ton of money for the devices.
      2. Cost a ton of money to hire people to monitor the devices.
      3. Many false alarms, due to the offender entering a building, bridge, tunnel, mountains, or some other remote area.
      4. Homeless offenders have a hard time keeping the devices charged, since they do not have electrical outlets.
      5. GPS devices can be cut off.  If an offender is intent on going underground, or wants to harm someone, they will, with or without GPS.
      6. I don't think any GPS is real-time, so if an offender does cut off the device, or goes into a restricted zone, it will be a couple minutes before anyone is even aware of the issue.
      7. It does not locate people in real-time.
      8. It does not locate people with enough accuracy.
      9. It could trigger false allegation.
      10. It requires infrastructure like cell phone towers, phone lines, and electricity that may not always be available.
      11. It may waste money that could be used more effectively to fight crime in other ways.
      12. The financial hardship on the offender can lead to probation violations and re-incarceration.
      13. Device goes off for no reason, even in the middle of the night, if the satellite is lost.
      14. Affects sleep, jobs, etc, as the offender is often asked to go outside and walk around to reacquire the signal.
     
  3. ONLINE REGISTRY
  4.  
    • Advantages
    •  
      1. People know where all the sex offenders are around them, and can inform their children who to stay away from, or places to stay away from.
      2. The legislature gets to look good, by giving the public a placebo to make them feel safer.
      3. A registry that only included the most dangerous predators (maybe the top 3-5%) would be beneficial to the public by alerting them to the presence of a truly dangerous person.
      4. A system that allowed people to work their way off the registry would provide the public with more accurate information regarding potential danger.
       
    • Disadvantages
    •  
      1. All sex offenders are basically treated the same, regardless of their dangerousness.
      2. The registry is nothing more than a digital Scarlet Letter, that shames people.
      3. It's not a deterrent!  If it was, the registry would not be growing like it is.
      4. The registry is used to harass, intimidate, shame, and in some cases, has become a hit list for vigilantes to use to harass, beat, set fire to their homes, damage property, or worse.
      5. Sets up a situation that is the direct opposite of what the sex offender treatment professionals say is needed to reduce recidivism.
      6. It isolates the offender, removes them from support systems, subjects them to public scorn, joblessness, and all other things that are known to be stresses that could increase recidivism.
      7. Puts the offenders family in danger as well.
      8. False sense of security, as most new crimes are committed by someone NOT on the registry. Parents are keeping an eagle eye on the registry, while uncle Frank or the coach is molesting their child.
      9. A registry that included all offenders or that classifies all or almost all offenders as the "most dangerous" makes it useless.  The public can't figure out who is a danger and who isn't and just fears and reviles them all.
      10. The registry contains a ton of human errors which further dilutes the purpose of the registry.  When people cannot trust the information on the registry, why have it?
      11. The registry doesn't go into enough details to explain the entire situation that occurred.  Some people can be labeled a child molester and not even touch a child, yet people see the label and assume the person is a pedophile and dangerous, which is not always the case.
     
  5. RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS / BUFFER ZONES
  6.  
    • Advantages
    •  
      1. Makes people "feel safe" due to an offender not living within XXXX feet from schools, day cares, play grounds, or other places children congregate.
      2. Doesn't cause property values to go down, due to a sex offender living near by.
       
    • Disadvantages
    •  
      1. Forces sex offenders into exile (i.e. banishment).  The buffer zone could be 100 miles, but if a person was really intent on committing another crime, this would not prevent that.
      2. Forces sex offenders, in many cases, into homelessness, due to not being able to find a place to rent to them, and is outside the boundary.
      3. Large problem with false sense of security.
      4. Cannot stop anyone who is intent on committing a crime.
      5. Does not take into consideration the over 90% of new child molestations that occur by first time offenders and by those who are members of the family or close circle of trust.
      6. Treats human beings as animals, just tossing them out in the country somewhere when they are no longer wanted.
      7. Studies prove no correlation between residence and the crime committed.
      8. There is an increased amount of former offenders absconding due to being homeless, helpless and hopeless.  Experts tell us, this increases the risk of re-offending.
      9. Pushes sex offenders and families into more rural areas, which creates a stronger pull on family resources, and on law enforcement resources.
      10. Removes offenders and their families from easy access to critical social, community, and therapeutic services.
      11. Young and juvenile offenders are often unable to live with their families at a time when, developmentally, they need them most.
      12. Adult offenders are often released from prison with nowhere to go.  This increases the whole family stress.
     
  7. MANDATORY PRISON SENTENCES
  8.  
    • Advantages
    •  
      1. Offenders are sent away for longer times, so they have less chance to harm another child, or adult, and reduces the recidivism rate.
       
    • Disadvantages
    •  
      1. The prison system is already overflowing. This makes it worse.
      2. Requires more money, due to the overcrowding prison system.
      3. In some states, they are being forced to let some other criminal go early, due to the overcrowding.
      4. This is the same thing they tried with drugs offenders, and it was a disaster there also.
      5. Sex offenders are not a homogeneous group.  Each crime is very different.  This would lead to people with little or no risk of re-offending, being given far worse sentences than necessary.
      6. Decreases the likelihood that family members will report abuse this increasing the number of children who continue to get abused and preventing those offenders from getting the help they need.
      7. Removed judicial discretion and consideration of circumstances surrounding the offense.
     
  9. CIVIL COMMITMENT
  10.  
    • Advantages
    •  
      1. People are put away for life, so they cannot harm another person.
      2. There are some truly mentally ill people who are, and may always be, very dangerous to the public.  Although, this is an incredibly small percentage of former offenders, and these are recognizable with professional testing.
       
    • Disadvantages
    •  
      1. Costs more money to house an offender in civil commitment, than it does in prison.
      2. Offenders almost never get out of these places, so it's basically prison outside of prison.  It just wastes tons of tax payer dollars.
      3. This is another example of our government taking something that could be helpful, on a very limited basis, and going terribly overboard.  There are people who do NOT belong in civil commitment, locked up possibly forever.  The government is totally in control of who can get out, and who will not.  The conditions in many commitment centers is deplorable, and the quality of "treatment," is either non-existent, or very poor.  Each state, each district, each judge, has different criteria to letting someone out.  Sometimes, someones life, can depend on the mood of the judge that day, or how good his public defender is.
     
  11. OTHER ADVANTAGES
  12.  
    • By having registered sex offenders provide email addresses, instant messenger names and other online id's, web sites that cater to children, can check the people signing up for their service, if the person is a registered sex offender.  Also, parents can check email addresses online (in some states) to see if anyone talking with their child is a registered sex offender.
    • Sex offender issues help politicians get votes.
    • Sex offender issues help politicians look good to the public.
    • Sex offender laws have created many businesses, which are making millions.
    • The media gets their big stories.
    • The government and politicians can ignore the Constitution and Bill of Rights to trample on the rights of sex offenders as a whole, and eventually your rights as well.
    • Other vigilante companies, like Perverted-Justice and "To Catch a Predator," make millions of dollars, all for entertainment.
    • Boosts the private prison industry.
    • Makes people "feel safe."
    • Gives people their daily dose of danger and fear.
    • Boosts media ratings.
     
  13. OTHER DISADVANTAGES
  14.  
    • Lose of job (financial burden)
    • Lose of home (homeless)
    • Lose of friends, family, children
    • Increased stress, anger, depression, hopelessness, shame, humiliation, guilt, sadness, worthlessness, suicidal thoughts, you name it.
    • Friends, family and children also suffer the same as the offender, jobs, friends, etc.
    • By having registered sex offenders provide email addresses, user names and instant messenger names, it violates their right of privacy, for those who are off probation and/or parole.  It is also used to deny them the right to use a web service, even if they have no intention of using the service to harm anyone.  It's discrimination.
    • Almost 100% of the sex offender laws and restrictions, are just placebo's to make the public feel better, when they actually do nothing to prevent another crime from occurring.
    • Politicians cannot speak out against sex offender laws, or else they would look like they are pro-sex offender, and that could ruin their careers.
    • Registries are not being updated on a daily basis, so a lot of the information is out dated, or just plain wrong.  The offenders give the police their personal information and then the police enter the data into the database.  Humans make mistakes, and it happens quite often.  I am not sure if this is still an issue, but at one time, Florida had dead people on the registry, which bloats it, making it look like there is more sex offenders in the state, thus increasing the fear factor.
    • The fear factor is heightened on Halloween, when their has only been one case, in 1975, of a child being harmed on Halloween.  So this is all hype.  Most crimes committed on Halloween are not by sex offenders.
    • Many sex offenders are being sent back to prison on technicalities.  Due to the ever changing laws, restrictions and everything else, it's hard for a person to know what they can and cannot do, so many are caught on some small technicality, and in many cases, are sent to prison for more time than they actually received for the crime itself.
    • Many people are always saying sex offender recidivism is high, when in fact many studies show this is not the case.  Many studies show the recidivism rate lower than 10%.  Several show the recidivism rate at 3.5% or 5.3% instead of the usual 75% or more you hear from the media and politicians.
    • The media and public have turned to vigilantism in many cases.  The media are always going to sex offenders doors, harassing them, to get their big stories.  And the public (mob squad) comes out and pickets in front of offenders homes, harass them, destroy property, or anything else to get the offender to move, when they have a right to live there.
    • Sex offenders are used as today's scapegoat.
    • Sex offenders laws and issues are nothing more than mass hysteria and moral panics, brought on by bogus statistics and recidivism rates, by the media and politicians.
    • The government and politicians ignore the Constitution and Bill of Rights to trample on the rights of sex offenders, which I believe is a test bed.  Eventually the rights of others will be trampled on as well.  The more they are able to bypass the Constitution, the more rights will be trampled on.
    • The laws are passed, but the fund are not there to pay for everything.
    • Much of peoples constitution rights are being trampled on, just to make others feel safe.
    • Sex offender laws are really targeted at a minute segment of the population but impact all offenders equally.
    • Lifelong restrictions are absurd - an offender who committed a minor offense at age 18 or even as a juvenile is still subject to them at age 80 after being offense-free for more than 60 years.  This serves no purpose.
    • Ineffective and costly waste of resources at a time of economic instability.
    • All SO laws dilute law enforcement resources by focusing them on monitoring all offenders instead of the most dangerous.
    • Lack of research-based laws result in bizarre feel-good legislation with no basis in fact.
     
  15. EMAIL, IM, INTERNET, SOCIAL NETWORKS, ETC
  16.  
    • Advantages
    •  
      1. Can be used to find out if SO's are interacting with children.
       
    • Disadvantages
    •  
      1. As part of a larger federal directive to monitor ALL communications as an aspect of counter-terrorism, due process will be ignored or waived by the authorities in the interests of public safety.
      2. Restriction of freedom of speech.



3 comments :

samm said...

my husband was assert all most 3 years ago for possession of child porn he was using lime wire to download music and it was one of he down loads after going back and forth he took a plea of 2 and a half years probation and he has to register what we thought was going to be years after all is said and done it is for the rest of his life. the judge left the girls in the home with him he can be around kids as long as we tell there parents the he is on the list, he got 2 days in jail with 1 day served I don't understand if they really think that he did this why would they let him stay with his 3 girls and only spend a day in jail I know he didn't download to view or any thing like that, I have stuck with him and so has my 3 girls which are a bit bigger now and know it has ruined our life and now I am looking for a way to get it off his record or at least his name off the list but have not been able to find one yet

Mark said...

Not with those allegations samm. Why would anyone want to plead guilty to this type of an offense to begin with in the first place? Was his lawyer that much of a politician to persuade your husband to plead out? What ever happened to computer forensics in this case? what ever happened to your husband constantly checking his computer for things like this? Or some installed filters that could detect porn? What tier level was he made? And in what state? When any crime charged whether or not there is contact with a minor, the goose is cooked and life-time registration is a done deal because under sex offender registration it is "conclusively" presumed there is a sexual compulsion especially if anything involves a minor and the conviction secures that mind set.

Cecil R. said...

I was charged with 3 counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree and 3 of the same in the Second Degree for downloading 3 images of what appeared to be young women on LimeWire in 2010. The images displayed one girl in each picture, that was nude, but not performing a sexual act on themselves or another person. I was found guilty of these charges based on the facts that they were nude and appeared to be under the age of consent. In Oregon the nude form at any age is protected by law if it is not performing a lewd act that is intended to cause the sexual lust of the viewer, i.e. a sexual act on self or others. Do to the content and the social stigma, the judge found me guilty. I went to prison for 2 and a half years. I was released not my home city but to the city in which the crime was committed, where I knew no one and had no support system. I was forced to move into the homeless shelter and practice a religion that I do not believe in or go to jail, as being homeless is a crime in Oregon because every place a person can sleep is private or public property, hence trespassing or worse. I could not find a job, a place to live, and was quickly outcast by most of the citizens of the city. I appealed my case, and lost due to social stigma and content matter, for the second time; not the actual case or the facts. Even with the best computer science detective in the nation on my case, who proved without a shadow of doubt that the images had been altered with photo enhancement software thus making them virtual and not of a crime committed to an actual person; I still lost!!! I am also very mentally ill. I have PTSD, Schizophrenia, and severe depression, as well as multiple personality disorder & borderline personality disorder. I am on Social Security, yet the money is not helping me get into a better place to live due to the black ban on renting to sex offenders...even with a recommendation from both my parole officer and my treatment provider; both of which have me as a low risk/ non threatening offender and are fast tracking me through the post legal and treatment ends of this ordeal. I get off of supervision in 2015. Is there something legal or otherwise that I can do to make my life better for me? Do you have any ideas at all that might be helpful...I am at the end of my rope here and running out of runway fast!!!