Abolish the public sex offender registry

By Lenore Skenazy . . . Sometimes when I post about the Sex Offender Registry, I get comments like, “Those scum don’t deserve to EVER live a normal life!”

This note below is to remind us that a study of 17,000 people on the registry by the The Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board found that about 5% were “clearly dangerous,” and 100 could be classified as sexual predators.

Not that the other thousands and thousands of registrants were all Romeo and Juliet cases, or teens who sexted. Just that most people who have been arrested for a sex crime don’t do it again. Some will. Most won’t. And the public registry has no effect either way.

So here is Shawna’s tale. She is on the Registry for life. Does this make any of us feel safer?

Dear Free-Range Kids: My name is Shawna and I am a required to register as a sex offender for having sex with a teen when I was a teen myself. Here is my story.

When I was 12 my mom befriended a neighbor in the apartment complex we lived in at the time. She was around 21-22 at the time and I thought she was absolutely the coolest person I had ever met. I idolized her. She was more interested in being my friend than my mom’s friend, and was there for me through some very bad times while we were neighbors. We moved and lost contact. Then when I was 18 we reconnected.

She was around 31 at this time and hung out with her friend’s 14 year old son. I had moved in with her and the 3 of us became close friends. She would always tell me how much he liked me and that him and I could have mixed-colored babies and they would be so pretty.Which got my mind thinking about him in a way that was more than friends.

On my 19th birthday she said she wanted to have a party and the 3 of us got drunk and played truth or dare. She had us dance naked and kiss in front of her. Him and I had sex that night.

The next morning she took him to his mom and she filed charges against me. I was sentenced to 6 months jail, lifetime probation and lifetime registry as a sex offender. I will be turning 34 in December and I’m still required to register and be on probation. I have to take polygraphs every 6 months and still attend sex offender group therapy. I have 3 children and this is starting to affect them.

Two years ago they passed a law that says I cannot take my kids to the park anymore. This includes lakes, as they are State parks. Their friends can never stay over for a sleepover and where I can have their birthday parties are limited. My husband and I along with our 3 kids have had to move in with my mom on many different occasions, due to my restriction on where I can live and not being able to find a home.

I have all the backing from my probation officer and therapist to try and get off probation and registry. However due to my felony it is hard to find any job where I would make the amount of money I need to go back to court.

The system is failed and everyone is being painted with a broad brush. I want to become a voice for sex offenders and hopefully get connected with the right people and/organization to start changing some of these laws. Not everyone should be called a sex offender.

Sincerely, Shawna

Turns out I’d seen Shawna in the deeply affecting documentary “Untouchable,” by David Feige. It chronicles the efforts of a powerful Florida lobbyist, Ron Book, who was so outraged (and, it feels to me, guilt-ridden) to learn that his now-grown daughter was molested by their nanny that he has dedicated his life to making the sex offender laws harsher and harsher. Book is delighted that no one on the registry can resume a normal life. At the end of the movie we see him raging that the children of those on the registry should be taken away.

If Book’s urges became national law, Shawna’s three kids would not grow up with her.

Shawna’s story may be unusual. Then again, every registrant’s story, just like every non-registrant’s story, is unique. But our laws aren’t. They are heavy, blunt instruments forged in fury rather than reason. Shawna’s right: It is time to change our sex offender laws. And it is time to get rid of the public sex offender registry. – L

(Courtesy of Lenore Skenazy’s blog, Free-Range Kids)

30 comments for “Abolish the public sex offender registry

  1. Matthew Arnold
    January 28, 2017 at 9:45 am

    I feel for you because I’m on the sex offender registry for life in Utah for a crime I committed 9 years ago, So I know all about s!@# that goes bing on there, I am no longer on supervision by the state and no longer required to go to sex offender group therapy but it still is prevalent in my life and have relentless life long requirement to register every 6 months, I spent a year in the salt Lake County jail and 3 years of zero tolerance probation and after my sentence was over in 2012 I still get kicked in the head by society and when I first moved into my apartment in Tooele Utah my next door neighbor went and blabbed to the entire apartment complex and told everyone that I was a registered sex offender! I totally resented her for that and they knew my name before a could introduce myself! I have a hard time getting dates with someone because of status and had very little luck finding a job because of me being on the the registry, as result of my neighbors big mouth I’m targeted for all kinds harassment be everyone! So I feel your pain lucky I did find a job and they know about what happened and they still let me work for them! So my suggestion is count your blessings, name them one by one and see what the Lord has done (I’m not Mormon by the way I am a born again Christian) what I’m trying to say is thank the Lord for what he did provide for you in your life!

  2. NH Registrant
    January 26, 2017 at 1:14 am

    I made a huge mistake recently. I befriended a guy my own age online recently and thought he was a decent guy. Sure, he had his problems, but he seemed on the level. So, I shared with him the details of my false conviction and the evidence that was planted on me. Now I feel like an idiot.

    We had a parting of the ways. Other people who were his friends – and didn’t know about my conviction – had problems with me personally out of jealousy due to how close I was becoming with THEIR friend. So, they badmouthed me and soon I was no longer this guy’s friend. He used the logic of being friends with THEM longer than with me. So, recently, this guy had an issue with me and was spying on me in a public chat room. He went on a tear and blurted out about every detail of what happened to me! I couldn’t believe it! I really should have known better than to trust ANYONE online that I don’t know with details about me: my real name was included, but thankfully not in his rant. He even has my picture! So, if this guy wanted to, he could ruin my life.

    This is where the registry comes in. The crime I got convicted of was a simple possession of materials crime. No manufacturing. No dissemination. Nothing. But, me being on the Registry for life will always make me someone who has to constantly hide from society. It’s never been more clear to me about that than now. If this guy felt like it, he could expose my REAL NAME to anyone he wanted. So, thanks to the Registry, those people could track me down and do who-knows-what to me or my family! Is this justice? Is it right that I have to hide for the rest of my life from society because of some images that I never downloaded? Even if I HAD downloaded the images, is it still right? I don’t think so. The Registry doesn’t include politicians, wealthy people, police & other public servants, and people in the entertainment industry who have committed FAR worse crimes – some with ABSOLUTELY no remorse! Even the family members of public figures and authorities get excused from the Registry if they have committed sex crimes.

    It’s really stunning how low our society has sunk and how much it HASN’T evolved from those fateful times in Salem, Massachusetts back in the 1600’s.

    • H n H
      January 27, 2017 at 12:32 am

      It makes one wonder if the powers to be haven’t raised children to such a high social status that everyone else is just dirt, and no matter what, doing everything short of killing them is what they deserve….

      ALL of these laws are based on emotion, the registry included (that’s a fact by the lack of addressing all empirical evidence for the uselessness of the registries existence they refuse to accept). The courts HAVE to see how much damage this is causing people. They refuse to accept the truth of the registry (that’s it’s a punishment) and look the other way to continue the fiasco. That is corruption at the lowest level.

      The courts don’t care how much trauma a girl goes through if the defendant has the strength to take the case to trial. Also, the courts sure don’t care about the damage done to the defendants life they set out to destroy. When the court is done shaming the girl on the stand by forcing her to admit to a sexual dalliance she was responsible for, they then turn and look at the defendant and say all this trauma they just forced this girl to endure is his fault! What on earth is wrong with the system? Are they that blind? Or is hatred just so easy of an emotion for rational people to fall into that they can’t help themselves, thus making the charges and subsequent punishments GROSSLY over exaggerated?

      That said, who’s to blame for this society blessed hatred? It’s as though the entire court room, and judicial branch is just a huge lure for parents to express their unbridled hatred towards a simple mistake someone made in their life. The parents obviously can’t control their daughter, so they drag some helpless, clueless soul into court for their own teenagers promiscuity. Beings they can’t raise their children properly, the courts have to do so. Only it isn’t the teenager who takes the fall. If people had the one simple fact of the human race in their mind (that basically most all people are good), then there should be an avenue for such a person to rebuild their lives after the courts have their way by destroying it.

      • NH Registrant
        January 28, 2017 at 11:32 pm

        Thanks for the reply. I still am living in fear because I don’t know what will go on in my direction. I pray the guy doesn’t release my real name to people. That would put my family in jeopardy as well as me! There are still people with pitchforks out there these days. But, now, the pitchforks are computer keyboards and cell phones.

        It’s become easier to smear someone and ruin their lives. The registry helps this. I honestly think the registry will NEVER be done away with because it is a steady source of revenue for the states in so many ways: the men and women who have to PAY for the privilege of being on the registry, and the paranoid public that ostracizes them and does everything they can to boot them out of their living areas – even to the point of false accusations. Being on the registry, you are automatically assumed guilty more than you were when you were accused in the first place.

        It’s sad. But, this is what our society has sunk to: a bunch of over-paranoid people with entirely too much influential power in their pockets and on their desks.

  3. Jeremy
    January 21, 2017 at 3:02 am

    Im goin though bull to lets all get togethef and do something about it !!!!

  4. January 19, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    Shawna, your story is sickening, depressing, infuriating, appalling, outrageous, as are the stories of myriads of other people. At worst, you should have been charged with a misdemeanor, however defined, and sentenced to 3-6 months of probation and 50-100 hours of community service: no incarceration in prison or jail; no mandatory sex-offender treatment; no probationary quasi-totalitarian supervision; not even for a month or week much less a lifetime; no registration as a uniquely deviant and dangerous criminal, not for a week much less until you die at age 77 or 84 or 92.

    I suggest you google “free Abigail Simon, Michael Kuehl, and read the articles and blog-posts on my website and you’ll understand, better than ever before, why you were crucified by this new-age witch-hunt and secular jihad against “child sexual abuse.”

    • H n H
      January 25, 2017 at 11:55 pm

      We have a new administration in office. I wonder if a petition of redress for all these sex “crimes” isn’t in order? At what age does a girl become culpable for her actions? Well, if she’s 14 or 15 and kills someone, the courts will have a field day in an attempt to adjudicate her as an adult. If she willingly, and forcefully makes unwanted advances towards an older man and forces him to touch her, then instantly she’s a “victim”. Victim… don’t make me go there, it’s a rant I won’t stop with. The courts have USED the “sex” hysteria to abuse their powers to inflate their own agenda to make any event where a sex body part is involve into a crime. It is NOT… I repeat NOT EVER (EVER!!!!!) about protecting a promiscuous girl, or stopping her from destroying mens lives. She receives no punishment, except maybe from her parents, and that’s little to none as the detectives direct the girl that she doesn’t have to discuss anything about the case with them. This isn’t’ anything about what she is responsible for, the game is for the courts to play to destroy a life for their gain.

      Sadly, this country is headed with its sex offenses where it was with segregation back in the 60’s. The courts, DA’s, even parents LOVE this crap. It justifies their anger for what their daughter did and what they obviously can’t control. They can pin it all on one man and destroy his life, all while crying “This is what you get, you harmed a child!!” If the Supreme court doesn’t put their foot down to all these emotionally founded sex “crimes”, let alone the registry, then there will soon come a day when nearly half the citizens are on the registry. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t see the registry numbers going down any.

      Just a last thought, what’s wrong with a federal mandatory age of culpability for involvement in these events that lead to an arrest?

  5. Terry
    January 16, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Well I can say there are ways around sex offender harassment. You will always have to register. However you need to consider working for yourself if at all possible. You are gonna need to walk the straight and narrow for sure. You can start your business with a student loan if you have not burned that bridge already. I know this because I have a sex crime from when I was 18. I did 10yrs in prison and once I got out I went on a mission to save money. I literally had 50$ in my pocket when I got out and a job at waffle house. Less than 7 years later I am now proud to announce I own 3 rental properties as well as the house I live in. I achieved this through my roofing business which does not require a license in my state. See US Constitution says everyone has a right to make a living. Next year I will graduate from University of Houston with a 4 year administration degree and will have accumulated a significant debt. Here’s the screw you government of the story. Since I can’t get a real job and pay into social security there is really no way for the government to garnish my wages to recoup the student debt if I fail in life due to the harrasment. In 20 yrs I will own my rentals and can retire off of the money they generate every month. Very risky but what do we have to lose. You see if there is a will there’s a way. Banks don’t do background checks when they issue credit so if you just focus on yourself and keep your bills paid you can achieve anything. I can’t wait until a cop applies to rent one of my homes and they see how it feels to be denied just because I don’t like them. What goes around comes around in this world.

    • Chipchaplove
      January 18, 2017 at 3:50 am

      Hurray for you. I am so glad to hear you have been doing well. My husband too has been working for himself and he was notified that he has to register as a tier 3 offender. We r quite devestated but our faith is a big role in our life so again, I wouldn’t say this is a walk in the park but more like a walk thru a major forest – knowing that there is some clarity beyond that. Praise God for his own business and now we are going to have to ramp it up. Would love to connect with u locally if you are in the DFW area!

    • Fred
      January 18, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      I enjoyed reading your story and I agree, working for ourselves is the way to go and that is what I do now. I am happy to hear you are successful as landlord, but curious as to how you made that work. I owned 2 houses for rent and in 6 years I could not find a single reliable tenant who would faithfully pay their rent and take care of the house. One of them just disappeared and I never heard from him again. He owed me 3 months of rent. Another was always trying to get out of paying his rent by trying to get the city to condemn the house (which they wouldn’t do because there was nothing wrong with it) I finally had him forcefully evicted after he didn’t pay rent for 5 months and when I went in to clean up the interior was destroyed. That is when I decided it is time to get out of the rental business. All of these people had good references who said they are reliable and would be good tenants. This all went down during the housing crisis and I was not able to sell the houses, they were eventually foreclosed and it will be several more years before I am able to qualify for any kind of loan because of that. I strongly discourage anybody from getting into the the rental business when they ask me.

  6. Andrew D Olsen
    January 16, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I was forced to register in 2009 after my case was dismissed following a deferred imposition of sentence. No registration was required or ordered in my case. The registration was forced on me as a condition of bond in 2009 when I received a letter stating that I “may” have to register and to submit any documentation that I have that says I don’t. Well, I did and I was pretty much ignored, arrested, forced to register, then that case was dismissed…..Still on the registry! Now my life is a shambles. I have a chance to get off, but God knows if that will happen. If they hadn’t forced registry on me I would have gone home. The registry has kept me half a nation away from my family and loved ones. If I go home now I would be on the registry for life. Restrictions are far worse back home. I have fought and fought, but all that happens is basically “too bad”. What has happened to me makes a mockery of “justice”. To me there is no justice, only harassment and persecution

  7. james
    January 13, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Dear Shawna,

    My name is James. In 2005 I was 22 and she 16 and very beautiful ….we was dating and having sex with her willing… Parents didn’t like it so they turn me in and they was very controlling… The investigator came and question me about us and told them everything by this time we wasn’t dating and she was 17 … They charged with sexual abuse 12–17 age and then when I pled out they change it to aggervated sexual abuse which makes me have to regster for life they gave 3 years with 2 years parole on ankle monitor…. I did my time and haven’t got into trouble since …. Besides getting arrested for being at a park as a s.o with my two boys now I’m on 5 year p.o…. With that all said this regerstration for life is unconstitutional….. How can tell me I can go some where here and there… And I want to show my boys how to hunt and fish ….show them the rules of guns…. A lot of it has to do with our over payed government….. If they had choice they would take on marshal law so that said the want control over every one ####### we all need stand up file a Class ACTION LAW suit against federal government…… George bush pushed this lifetime regerstration UNITED WE STAND

    • david
      January 19, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      John Walsh was in just about the same situation as you. Except he went on to force the AWA thru, destroy 1000’s of lives, and become a rich and famous celebrity to boot. Damn.

    • A miserable wife
      January 25, 2017 at 8:55 am

      Hello
      My husband has to register for life also. But when he was paroled his green sheet said he had to register for the length of his parole. Now he his tier 3 when he was the child and he was 17 she got him drunk as a kid she was 25 she slept with him yelled raped because he told her he was going to let his cousin know what they did ( she was dating the cousin at the time). She tried to retract it but they said she would be charged so she was scared and kept the charges. When he was 16 he went with his same cousin who was grown at the time and did a robbery. He did do that so they scared him into a plea with no lawyer and his mom was on drugs so he had no one. He wanted to do his time for the robbery but not the rape so they lowered the charges and told him if he didn’t take the plea they were going for the max sentence. So he took the plea as an adult. Wrong thing to do but he was young and scared. Now he is 40 been off parole since he was 27 and has not done anything since he was 17. 5 years in prison 5 years parole and 13 years with nothing not even a parking ticket. I have talked to her and she says how sorry she is but that doesn’t help our 4 children when they go to school or their friends see their dad on Megan’s law. It’s such a shame because they tell him he’s tier 3 because he did the robbery which has nothing to do with the charge of sexual misconduct. We need to take a stand!!! A miserable wife!!!

  8. Lovecraft
    January 11, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Probation and registration for life and I thought I had it bad. Don’t get me wrong, being convicted of any crime where you have to register means you lose. As we all know the real anguish, fear, despair, loneliness, pain, and suffering (punishment) comes after your sentence when you register. All these things are only incidental the government says……they are for public safety and merely reglatory…..yea right.

  9. Peter
    January 10, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Like everybody else has said your not alone Shawna. When I registered in 2003 it was for only 10 years and now I am starting my 14th year on the registry. I hope somehow this whole thing will end and I hope things get better for you.

    • Rajendra
      January 10, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      When you say, “When I registered in 2003 …….” it makes it sound like the sex offender registry is voluntary.

      • Peter
        January 11, 2017 at 11:37 am

        Rajendra I’m sorry if you misunderstood me,it was anything but voluntary.

        • John D
          January 30, 2017 at 11:40 pm

          Same here, 10 years of registration started 14 years ago. I was a teenager and so was my “victim”. She lied about herror age and I’ve taken all of the responsibility. All of the polygraph tests, discrimination, and ridicule that go along with being a SO.

  10. COLLEEN
    January 9, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    This system is just screwed. ..and the “treatment” is WRONG…if teachers do not read what they think.should be written. a kid that made a horrific mistake at the age of 20 is forced to play the game…or be tramatized in group sessions and be made to feel like they should not even live life
    ..complete stupidty. Angry Angry Parent in Texas

  11. JR
    January 9, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Shawna, we all feel your pain. It’s inhumane having the modern day Scarlet letter of the SOR. Like you said, we’re all painted with a broad brush, all lumped into the disposable category. We are all suffering, you’re not alone.

  12. January 9, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    You know I like to put a bit of humor in everything it makes for a brighter day.. Can you all Desperado. You know I like to insert a bit of humor in all things. I’m sure those who wrote that song had troubles.
    I wouldn’t even be on here if I hadn’t gotten caught up with all this sex hoopla. Anybody that actually hurts a little girl should be in pay some type of punishment but anybody that is duped well that’s another thing. Sex, Money and rock and Roll well that’s of the 70’s.
    Do I believe all this sex offender stuff be abolished? To an extent as we are all sex offenders weather you know it or not. Money is the root of all evil.
    Now I know some of you on here want to solve all this by man’s wisdom but you will never do it.
    Even Brenda Jones didn’t know what to tell me or any advice to tell me when and if, as my probationer said, I had to I go back to court over.
    Sure mankind is easy to give advice but that could be the wrong advice. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Man has always wanted to be right but when they are wrong they don’t really know how to swallow their pride. What more can I say with this sex offender ordeal….. we all live and learn…. wouldn’t it be funny if all the world learned the golden rule and practiced it, maybe this world wouldn’t be in this shape.

  13. Dave D
    January 9, 2017 at 11:19 am

    They do not think most of us are a threat. They are allowed to treat us like we are which allows them to remove some of our rights and this is what it is all about. Our government is after total power always this is priority #1. Until we elect officials that believe in the constitution and what it stands for this will remain the same.

  14. John
    January 9, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Shawna
    Move to another state .. Get out of florida. If this is where you live . when you live in another state you can ask that state to release you from the registration . or have at least an out date. To be removed from the registration .

    • Tim
      January 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      John:

      Im sorry but your belief is not true. Most states (if not all now) have laws that require you to maintain the lifetime registration in that state you are moving to. Simply moving to another state does not relieve anyone of any requirement to register. Lifetime registration is lifetime registration no matter where you move and while you can petition to be removed depending on the state and the nature of your offense, you have about the same chance of getting off lifetime registration as you do of winning the power ball lottery.

  15. Rajendra
    January 9, 2017 at 3:39 am

    The system is really messed up. The court likes to throw all they can to people with sex crime charges.

    I took plea deal for low level felony and I’d already been incarcerated for nearly two years (waiting for the trial) which according to my lawyer was time served. But then I found out afterward that I was put in five more years of Probation.

    The probation people like to give unnecessary trouble just to prove that they are overlords. Perhaps in the case of the individual in this article being a female, the system is somewhat lenient (maybe), otherwise, talking from my personal experience, the Probation is there to prove that the recidivism rate for people labeled as sex offender is very very high; became they (can) violate probationees for nonsense stuff, like failing to pay probation fee when unemployed (I kid you not, I was warned on multiple occasions), etc.

    • Fred
      January 9, 2017 at 11:56 am

      “Probation Fee” and Annual Regristration Fee. There is the real reason behind lifetime probation and registration, and the real reason why registries are ballooning so rapidly.
      Anyone with common sence knows it is not about keeping people safe.

    • Maestro
      January 10, 2017 at 8:44 am

      That whole nonsense with having to pay probation fees (not here in CT at least) and the fee to attend the SO treatment group which probation forces us to do, should be taken to court with a class action lawsuit with the argument being basically: We’re not on probation for our economic status so stop lying to the public about us being dangerous when we get re-arrested for not being able to pay a fee.

    • John W
      January 10, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      Hey Rajendra. I know what you’re saying. I was released from probation in 1991. To make a long story short, I was required to register in 2006 due to a Missouri Supreme Court decision. The CLEO actually assigns a date for me to report. On one occurrence, I had to work to 5pm and by the time I got to the police station, the door was locked. So I called them on the phone and I was told that the door is always locked at 4pm, even though there wasn’t a notice on the door stating any days or times.

      When I went back the next day, I was informed that all my paperwork was already sent to the prosecutors office for failure to register, therefore, I’m not allowed to register. To make another long story short, after being intimidated, humiliated, belittled, and threatened to have my a__ beaten, they finally allowed me to re-register like it was the first time. The paperwork, picture, fingerprint, DNA, all over again.

      Two weeks later, I got a letter from the PA that informed me that I had committed a felony which requires a prison sentence, but at this time, I will not be prosecuted. Therefore, he is placing me on an indefinite probation with a zero tolerance policy.

      That happened 10 yrs ago, and I have been treated since, in a acceptable manner by the people working there. But, whenever I’m within 2 wks of my 90 day re-registration, I become anxious and depressed to the point of not eating or sleeping and by the time the registration day is here, my whole body is shaking. In order to live this way, I’ve put it in the back of my mind under the “Life Sucks!” file. It usually stays there 10 out of 12 weeks.

      On a related subject, I watched the confirmation hearings today on CSPAN concerning our new attorney general. It doesn’t matter what the political affiliation is, I am afraid of the future.

  16. Maestro
    January 9, 2017 at 2:23 am

    This has got me so enraged, I can’t even think straight.

    PROBATION FOR LIFE????!!!!! Who gets that in a case like this??? Or ANY case for that matter? That’s INSANITY!!! Probation for life but only 6 months in jail. Six months….that kinda speak very loudly about how much of a threat this woman apparently is in the eyes of the court that sentenced her.

    If we are such HORRIBLE people, how are so many of us doing such little prison time?
    I guess the only thing that’s more heinous than a sex offense that can get you lots of years in prison in this country is messing with the government’s precious money.
    Don’t fudge your income taxes to try to get more money back. HOLY HELL, you’ll get the chair for that!!

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