Sex Offender Registries and Privacy Rights

I was thinking about the guy that killed that girl in Florida and how he was a registered sex offender. I am not sure that a state sex offender registry violates his privacy rights or not… doesn’t it?

If he served his time, doesn’t he have the right to his own privacy? Does his crime immediately brand him for the rest of this life? Is this in the same container as stripping a citizen of their right to vote forever, even after they’ve served their sentence? Let’s say he didn’t murder this girl… but lived his life normally – does that give the state the right to trump his personal privacy? (And yes, I know that in this case, the neighborhood had not been notified)

ACLU argued that posting these addresses online violated privacy rights, but posting names by county was not. That makes more sense, I guess. The names and crimes are part of the public record.

Parents of victimized children say that the rights of victimized children take precedence over the rights of offenders.

This is like affirmative action, which I agree with for the most part, but it still remains unconstitutional because of unequal treatment.

Comparison of sex offender registries.

Part of it describes how you see prison. Do you see it as punishment or a chance for rehabilitation or just a ‘time out’? (Not in the reality that it is not with for-profit incarceration, but in the ideal sense)

Is this a step closer to Ministry of Pre-Crime?

This post is muddled – I really don’t have the right research assembled.

13 thoughts on “Sex Offender Registries and Privacy Rights

  1. Beastmomma

    It’s hard to find a strong stand on this issue because as your post has illustrated, it is complex. If the person is definately guilty, then I would say that the right of the victim trumps the right to privay. Also, if the person has shown that they are not going to be rehabilitated, then that is another instance where their right to privacy is as valuable to me. However, there are lots of flaws in the system and if you believe that people can change, then they should not be marked forever. I guess it also depends on the crime. Sex offenders seem to (for lack of a better phrase) be more chronic, well I think serial killers are as well. It seems that the more fear a crime instills in soceity, the less concern there is for that person’s rights. In spite of the horrid nature of the crime, I think the rights should be protected because the system that finds people guilty is not perfect.

    Okay, now I just wrote a muddled mess. Andy, you should have spell check in the comments.

  2. Andy

    You extracted the point I was trying to form: do you believe people can change? Are sex offenders (and remember that includes a broad range of actions – many of which might not be behaviorally driven) able to change? Do they want to? Is it possible?

    Do you, in your heart, believe that people can change?

    Or are they damned to their fates/illness/perversion?

  3. Beastmomma

    That’s the trouble. I believe that people can change when it comes to diet, exercise, motivation, and other lifestyle type changes. That’s what quitting smoking and alochol cessation programs are build upon; for some reason I have trouble extending this faith into sex offenders. As a society, I think that we should have a way of creating environments that do not encourage violence, but I am not sure how to go about doing that.

    I also think that it is not so much about being able to change, as it for others to know that you have changed? How do you evaluate whether change is genuine or just a performance?

  4. HEATHER HARPER

    I BELIEVE THAT EVERY SEX OFFENDER SHOULD BE REGISTERED BECAUSE MAYBE WE COULD KEEP THINGS LIKE THE JESSICA LUNDSFORD INCIDENT FROM HAPPENING.

  5. John Smith

    I disagree. A good security system may have kept Jessica Lunsford safe, or maybe even keeping her windows locked, or just peeking in on her every once in a while.

    Protecting our children is our responsibility. It shouldn’t be the government’s. Everytime Big Brother government steps in with another law mandating or prohibiting something, there goes yet another right we all took for granted.

    Thanks to all these child protection laws, we now have social workers butting into our houses telling us what we can and can’t teach our children. We can’t spank our kids, teach them how to shoot firearms, and heaven forbid, we can’t take pictures of baby’s first potty training session or first bath because some film developer at Wal-Mart might think we’re perverted sicko’s and call the cops on us.

    People don’t see the downside of Megan’s Law and its related sisters. Thanks to a few well-meaning politicians, we as an American people have LOST our right to privacy. Everytime another law is passed, we have moved one step closer to totalitarianism.

  6. Joanne

    How does the registry actually help prevent these offenses? Where are the statistics that says they do? Or, it is hurting the innocent victims, ie: family members of sex offenders, who are guilty by association.

    Think about it………..if a Predator wants to abduct a child, just knowing where he lives is not going to do anything. What is preventing him from going to a local mall or a playground the next town over, where no one will know who he is, and abduct a child?

    We need preventative measures and accountability on the part of the parents!! Ruining the lives of non-violent offenders and their families does nothing to prevent the Meghan Kanka or Jessica Lunsford murders.

    Wake up society and begin to think of realistic, enforceable, preventable measures to prevent these crimes!!

  7. obliqueone

    In this case, the guy was still on parole. So he hasn’t effectively “served his time.” He is still, in essence, still serving. He just got to serve part of it outside of prison. So for offendors on parole, I think their information should definitely be published. They are still a danger and still effectively serving their sentences.

    For offenders who have fully completed their sentence the issue IS murkier. Can people change? Yes. Can sex offenders change? No, not really. So do we then have the right to publish their information? I think the answer is yes. Once they offend, they give up the privacy they once had in that respect.

  8. Marty Gleason

    I work with juvenile sex offenders in Chicago. Not 14 year old kids who are arrested for having sex with an age appropriate peer; I mean 14 year old kids who have performed horrific acts of sexual abuse on other children (and sometimes adults).

    The Kids can change; however, given the laws and the inability of the american public to talk about sex and sexuality in a productive manner, these kids will always be regarded as predators.

    Now, you may bring up Joe Duncan–who, according to the reports, started his career of sexual offending when he was 14. His first cases occured over 30 years ago. There was very little treatment available, at that time, for JSO offenders. Therefore, it is no wonder he reoffended-he wasn’t given proper treatment.

    The American people are willfully ignorant in regards to sex offenders. Stranger Danger is a myth–a myth popularized by Megan’s Law and extreme cases like the one in florida and the one in idaho (joe duncan). 40% of all sex offenses are committed by juveniles. THe majority of sex offenses are committed by relatives and aquiantences. A good security system will not protect you from a sex offender…

    This is a topic that, by it’s very nature, most people cannot comprehend. However, in order to properly deal with this silent epidemic, we need to continue to have this difficult discussion.

  9. SOhopeful

    Interesting questions being raised here, ones that there ARE answers to…

    Can sex offenders change? YES. Treatment really does work, for the majority. The truly sociopathic, crazies are not going to be able to be rehabilitated, no matter what their crime. Thankfully, they are the slim minority, but those are the ones we hear about, and the ones the media love to sensationalize – the ones we love to hate. It’s heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, vengeance-inspiring and salacious… in other words – it’s a ratings tool.

    As was alluded to in the initial post, “sex offender” encompasses a very broad range of people who committed a very broad range of actions. Some acts are by their very nature a sexual crime – no-brainers like: rape, flashing, etc.. others are not so black and white.

    For example, would anyone here (or reading) consider the following to be “sex offender” worthy crimes?

    – peeing in an alley
    – changing an diaper
    – taking a photo of your ONE YEAR OLD breastfeeding
    – grabbing a wayward teen by the arm to give her a piece of your mind for almost making a multi-car pileup
    – grabbing your own crotch and making a crude comment
    – asking a lady in a bar to go home with you
    – engaging in consensual teen sexual behavior

    If you said YES to any one of these, you are in the minority. Most people are blissfully unaware of what actually constitutes a “sex crime” today in America – unless or until they (or a family member) get swept up in this over-broad net and ever-farther-reaching and vaguely-worded laws.

    For all those instances mentioned above, there are newspaper articles published on each one – yes, each one is of a person who as been prosecuted and is now a sex offender for LIFE. The few listed above are representative of a growing number of Americans caught up in this net. It certainly makes juicy tv coverage, but it is a horrible un-ending nightmare for them *and their families.*

    The current system has many glaring flaws. One of which is that the registry was initially internal – only law enforcement had access to it; it was intended to be for violent offenders. Then it took off as a tool for the public to protect themselves from those violent, repeat and habitual offenders. Now it has transmogrified into listing everyone who was ever adjudicated for anything even remotely able to be construed as sexual.

    Consider that there are many, many people on the registry who were adjudicated “withheld” – legally, this is not supposed to be equated as guilt. However, the legislature has added that designation into the statutes. According to the FDLE, over 1/2 of those on Florida’s website received withheld adjudication.

    Hmmm… all of the sudden the number 43,000 dangerous sex criminals running around in FL doesn’t seem so big [at only 21,500] Consider also that about 2,000 are in prison and another large number have already DEAD, have been deported or only registered while they were passing through. So that leaves, what, around 18,000? Out of what total population? The problem doesn’t seem quite as extreme when one knows the facts, does it? The amount of federal funding plays a HUGE role in how the policies are implemented – yes, it’s about money, too. Shameful.

    Another problem with the registry is that it is so diluted with all of these piddly people that the truly dangerous are obscured. According to the 2003 report by the DOJ, only 5.3% of 9,961 sex offenders were re-arrested for a new subsequent sex offense in the follow-up period. Of those only 3.5% were actually re-convicted. So, that means that roughly 95% of sex offenders DID NOT REOFFEND. Interestingly enough, the NON-sex offenders committed something like 75% MORE SEX OFFENSES than the sex offenders did! You can see this in a user-friendly table here: http://www.geocities.com/voicism/z-902.html#a

    This study is only one of many government (federal, state, and international) studies that point out that the idea that all sex offenders reoffend, they can’t be rehabilitated is, and I quote, “an old wives tale”:

    In United States v. Mound, 157 F.3d 1153, 1154, (8th Cir. 1998) (en banc), four dissenting Judges cite Law Review articles citing statistics finding the recidivism rate of released sex offenders is the second lowest rate of recidivism of all convicted felons. In State v. Krueger, Case No. 76624 (December 19, 2000, Eighth Judicial District of Ohio, unreported), two female Judges reversed a Sexual Predator adjudication, finding the statute is based on a false assumption and in essence, an “old wives tale” of popular beliefs contradicted by empirical data.

    Another huge flaw in the current system stems from the federal government’s requirement of the states to list *everyone* and monitor everyone. This, according to sheriffs, police officers, parole and probation officers, is a huge waste of taxpayer’s money, their time, attention and resources. This is the prime reason why the crazy people are able to slip through the cracks to commit heinous crimes.

    The public has many misconceptions, and some of those that are the most common:

    – registrants cannot change,
    – treatment doesn’t work,
    – sex offenders are pedophiles
    – all registrants have numerous victims before they are caught
    – sex offenses are committed by strangers
    – juvenile sex offenders cannot change either
    – victims may/will go on to offend sexually
    – we have a right to know where they live
    – we have the right to NOT have them live by us and our upstanding family
    – if someone is not on the registry then they are ‘safe’
    – any sex offense against a ‘minor’ means a little child
    – teen girls are chaste and innocent, any sexual activity must have been coerced or manipulated
    – children NEVER LIE about abuse
    – children are asexual and any ‘sex-play’ is a result of abuse they endured
    – anyone who had sex with a teen is a pedophile
    – prison is somehow luxurious
    – probation/parole conditions are easy for registrants
    – vigilantism is rare (beatings, stabbings, murder, firebombings, etc.)
    – harassment/intimidation is illegal and punished
    – the family members of a registrant deserve whatever s/he does
    – the victim is never identified
    – longer sentences and harsher punishments will act as effective deterrent
    – sex offenders somehow get a ‘slap on the wrist’
    – the non-offending parent must have known what was going on, is also to blame
    – once someone commits a sex crime, they should never be able to be around children again (grocery store, gas station, fast food, college)
    – the government’s job is to protect us

    There are many more pervasive myths out there. I don’t have the time to refute every one, besides, it’s already been done here: http://www.sohopeful.org/ and while you are there, be sure to check out the Library of official documents and news articles at http://www.sohopeful.org/forum.

    The information there is simply stated, backed up with numerous facts from credible sources and a cogent position is stated. Not only that, but there are some really viable and effective solutions presented as well, in addition to child safety tips.

    Of course the victims count. They must be respected and children must be protected. Public policy needs to shift from this current hysteria-driven atmosphere to reasoned, thoughtful and balanced approaches that will actually benefit society.

  10. randy

    Tell the truth about child molesters or you to afraid of the liberals that will go after you Don’t be afraid do what is right for the country and the children. the fact is the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, liberal bed-wetters cause these problems in our society to day and it started with the gays. Look back in history, gays where persecuted, ridacuted and put to shame and even imprisoned before we where even a country.People felt that gay acts and being gay was amoral and now they feel that it’s ok because the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, liberal bed-wetters started whining that the gays have rights.In some states it is legal for gays to get married, and it’s ok for them to adopt children. The words you are speaking are the same words that was spoking in the past about gays. So keep hammering on these people and you will have the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, liberal bed-wetters repeating history.Albert Einstein wrote, “The problems that exist in the world today can not be solved by the level of thinking that created them.most Americans or in denial or, simply shut their eyes from seeing The truth. Those that do see are cowering in the dark, knowing full well what awaits them if they speak out. A few are speaking out, but only a few, Americans may be able to hear them during a commercial break, while watching another inane sitcom or perhaps another sports extravaganza. That is provided, they aren’t doped up or drunk to see The truth.

    I am not a racist or anything like that this is the truth and if you or going to maeck comments about society and it’s problems at least Tell the truth about how the break down in or society began

  11. Angeljade

    I would just like to say that I am currently in a relationship with a person who is a registered sex offender. Has he changed? There was not a need for it, but it was forced upon him. He was lied to by one of those chaste teenage girls (he was 21 she was 15, said she was 18) and now is an SO who has to do treatment with guys who rape 4 year olds. Has to live 1500 feet away from any schools or daycare centers. How exactly can you lump all SO’s in the same catagory?

  12. Anonymous

    Here’s a clue for the clueless : sex offenders can and do change. Everyone is under the impression that if someone with any kind of authority says they can’t, then it must be an immutable fact. I served time for a sex offense that involved someone underage. was it wrong? Yes, without a doubt. Am I ashamed? Of course. will I ever do something like this again? Never. Not because I did 10 years, but because I saw several people commit similar offense several times. Because they had money for private attorneys, they usually got small sentences. I didn’t have that luxury, thankfully. I used every minute of every day to look within myself and try to find the reasons behind my offense. I know what my limits are. I kn0ow how and why i offended. And I know how to prevent it from ever happening again. Thanks to the registry, no one will hire me, and no one will rent an apartment to me. other offenders offend because of strees and lack of influence over their own lives. This continued practice by “Society” will have definite and negative influences on re-offenses. A society is judged on how they treat their criminals and mentally ill. If we had other options for work and rent, we would gladly take them. but absolutely none are offered. Murderers who get out can get a job, no problem. We can’t. we are continually harassed by the public and police without respite. Is anything done? No. No matter how many times we report it. We’re told that maybe we should move. How can we afford to move with no jobs? And who would rent to us? See? by “solving” one problem, countless others are created. The solutions offered are pointles and mean. create new legislations to prevent offenders from living near you? we all have to live somewhere. And the deserted island option so many people counter with is unfair to out families and loved ones. You don’t have to like us, but we deserve some consideration. And since we served our time, we deserve our rights. The laws, city statutes and such that we are forced to obey were not part of our sentence. Nor should they have been. take out your anger on the people who actively offend or re-offend. I was smart enough to learn from my mstake, and if given a chance I can surely prove it.

  13. Aphroditeflame

    In reply to Anonymous March 14th, 2006
    I would like to say this:
    That same speech was given to me by a man who also served 10 years … I became his friend and he won my trust. Eventually he moved into my home and furthermore became a “boyfriend” when a few months later I took my ex-boyfriend back, this man was allowed to stay in my home. He was still my friend but I had broken up with him and sex was not an option. Three months later he raped me… the man who held my trust raped me. I admit it’s hard for you who have commited rape and “learned your lessons” but how about the victims of such … what rights do you think we have?

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