In an attempt to protect the public from sexual violence, the U.S. has enacted get-tough laws targeting released sex offenders. Many were inspired by high-profile cases in which children were raped and killed by strangers, a heinous albeit rare crime. Federal law now requires states to register all sex offenders online, including those committed of consensual teen sex and of public urination and indecent exposure. Dozens of states and municipalities have created buffer zones that prevent offenders from living near schools, playgrounds and parks. And about 20 states—including California, New York, Minnesota and Washington—indefinitely confine the worst offenders to mental hospitals.
Proponents contend that these laws make society safer. Opponents say they’re often ineffective and violate civil liberties.
Since 2006, award-winning producers Diane Richard and Todd Melby interviewed leading experts and victims’ advocates about the impact of these laws. They've also spent time getting to know four Minnesotans convicted of sex crimes, in prison and since their release. In many ways, these men represent the complexity of the issue. Their crimes span a spectrum of sexual violence. All are felons. Each completed a sex offender treatment program.
These men’s stories put a candid human face on the highly politicized issue of sex crimes, the damage they cause and some of their common roots. Together, the documentary provides a nuanced examination of issues surrounding online registration laws, residency restrictions, Romeo and Juliet laws and the growing use of civil commitment.
Produced with dual narrators, “No Brother of Mine” combines audio-rich storytelling that puts the listener in the scene with expert interviews to propel the narrative forward. The result is a probing look from many different perspectives at a nation grappling with how to handle the sensational yet banal reality of sexual violence and at the struggles released offenders face in a society that no longer wants them.