ATLANTA (W.A.R. Release) - State lawmakers were enlightened about the damage done by public sex offender registries during the recent National Conference of State Legislatures here.
“There was a light-bulb moment for legislators as the discussion progressed about children of registrants being beaten up or suffering depression because their mother or father are on a public registry,” said Vicki Henry of Women Against the Registry (W.A.R.). (Henry is seen at left in the photo, along with Larry Neely of RSOL).
Neely, of the Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL) group, told lawmakers about the recent vigilante murders of a registrant and his wife in South Carolina.
Lawmakers who paid attention said: “I didn’t know that happens” or “Oh my gosh, they looked up the sex offender’s name and address on the public registry, murdered him and his wife.”
Not only are public websites tools for murderers, they make no sense from a public safety standpoint. Recent research in Nebraska shows that reoffense rates of former sex offenders are extremely low. But reoffending increased when Nebraska adopted the Adam Walsh Act, which put every former offender regardless of risk on the public shaming website.
Sharing the recent tragedy out of Texas, where a 10-year old girl was charged with the rape of a four-year old boy left many speechless. The portrayal of this story to summit attendees was a signal that the pendulum needs to swing back in the other direction. It was made apparent to conference attendees that counseling would be a better alternative rather than incarcerating and destroying our youth.
Fellow advocates USA Fair and Florida Action Committee were also in attendance and advocating for reform.