By Anne Moore
As states pass the deadline for implementation, a strong debate is still stirring over whether the registry makes a difference.
OAK HILL -- Five years ago, President Bush signed into law legislation making it the law of the land to keep tabs on sex offenders.
The registry was touted as a critical tool for law enforcement to ensure public safety.
It's critics; however, argue that it has made it nearly impossible for offenders to find jobs, homes, and communities, and that it may actually make their situation worse.
John Doe, a registered sex offender in Fayette County, was imprisoned for six months in 1986 for indecency with a minor, a charge which was later upgraded to assault.
When he was released, though, his personal imprisonment continued.
“If I go to McDonald’s, nobody sits by me, speaks to me. I see guys talking, sitting together…they don’t want to sit with me. Nobody comes over and says “how’s it going?” They won’t speak to me because I’m poison,” said Doe.
For the rest of his life, he will have to check in every 90 days with law enforcement to confirm his home address and employer.
“You can’t find a place to live. I’ve been kicked out of places four times. You can’t get into an apartment. Every place I’ve ever been, I’ve been kicked out because of this. I’ve had a stroke from all this stress. You can’t just live by yourself,” said Doe.
While some sex offenders argue it stigmatizes them beyond rehabilitation, law enforcement in Fayette County believe it’s critical to public safety.
- It doesn't protect anybody, and if it is as good as they claim, then why not have a online shaming hit-list for all other criminals? Most other criminals have a higher recidivism rate than sex offenders, but the media, politicians and police seem to think it's the opposite, well, it's not, see here for many studies that shows it's not.
“It’s a very good tool. If someone’s around there committing serial sex crimes, it offers us a chance to go after that person before they get another victim,” said Trooper S.A. Murphy, with the West Virginia State Police.
- Oh please! If a person is a serial sex offender, it won't do anything to prevent them from committing another crime, if that is their intent! You are just trying to justify the extra punishment of ex-sex offenders. The registry and GPS is only good for after the fact, if the person still lives where they said they do.
More than requiring states to go public with their database, the legislation expanded the categories of crimes eligible for registration; a move which some say made it more difficult for states to track the worst of the worst.
- Yes, now they put all offenders on the registry, and all are seen as the worst of the worst. Why do we need a registry in the first place? If someone is so dangerous, then why was an evaluation not done before sentencing, then sentence them to longer time in prison? Then this online shaming hit-list would not be needed, and not wasting millions of tax payer dollars.
“It definitely puts a strain on our manpower. It takes away from other things. But overall, I believe the time is well spent, if it can protect a child,” said Murphy.
- But again, you are living in Wonderland. If a person is intent on committing a crime, the registry, GPS or residency restrictions will not prevent it. So it protects nobody, it's just a placebo!