“Abolish the registry,” says headline in Counterpunch

Judith Levine and Erica Meiners have written a powerful argument against the public sex offender registry. Published in Counterpunch, the piece credits RSOL with being a forerunner in the movement for reform to the registry system. It begins with acknowledging the popularity of the movement to exclude juvenile offenders from the clutches of the registry and moves quickly to drive home the failures of the registry for all.

Read the piece as it appears at counterpunch.org.

17 comments for ““Abolish the registry,” says headline in Counterpunch

  1. John C
    December 14, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Never forget that as some have posted, it’s always about the money. The guy that runs the center for exploited children makes over a million a year. I think I know who is being exploited. You have ICE agents making Internet arrests because it’s so easy. They can sit on their butts and get an ISP arrest and search warrant. Then boom, you are done. When I got arrested for viewing pictures, no less than 12 people showed up, all to get a piece of the pie. The FBI, TBI, State Trooper and the local sheriff. These guys are about step removed from the gestapo. They are allowed to get away with it, because they pretend they are helping children, and everyone is on board with that. No politician is going to help, because at the next election, his opponent will gladly point out that he is for letting sexual predators run free and harming your children. Most mindless people will never look at the real truth. So even though they know what total BS this is. very little ever gets done. Now you really want to talk about ripoffs? The court orders therapy for SO’s. These people are the worst. They can’t make it in real life, so they prey on people that have committed sex crimes. They are basically just babysitters that snitch to your PO when you do something wrong, even though therapy is supposed to be confidential. They do nothing to actually help, they just put a band-aid on the problem, and control you, not cure you. Of course they collect money from this, and it is their say so as to whether you are “cured” or not. Since they are making money off of you, do you think you will ever be cured? What a system. If you tell them you have no interest in ever having sex with a child, you are labeled as being in denial, and you need even more help. There is no right answer with them.

  2. John C
    December 14, 2016 at 8:19 am

    The registry is so wrong in so many ways I don’t know where to begin. Just the fact that many people hate SO’s, and don’t even care what the crime is makes it a horrible weapon. I am surprised no one has burned a cross on my yard. To add to the problem, anyone that sees you on there knows you are a felon, and felons aren’t allowed to have guns, so you they are telling everyone that you can’t protect yourself from a home invasion. I had a real estate agent that told me the first thing she did when she got a potential listing was to check for SO’s on the registry. Does this show people charged with murder, manslaughter, arson, robbery, etc? Nope. Just us. I interviewed for a job, and disclosed to them that I was a SO, and an ex-felon. They were OK with it. Finally, I got an email from them asking if I were on the registry. I said yes, and never heard another word from them. I have had supposedly good friends turn me down because they don’t want the baggage that goes with me. And yes, I have to pay $150 every year from the honor of being on it. My crime? Looking at underage pictures. Only in America……

  3. Justin Wesley
    April 20, 2016 at 4:43 am

    I’m in agreement with all that is said here. Unfortunately, I can testify to the fact I have lived 20 years branded as a sex offender from a consensual contact when I was 19 with a 15 yr old that escalated from telling a friend to a teacher to counselor to law enforcement. End game I was convicted. Not knowing the repercussions of the label “sex offender” when I was just starting out in life as an adult. Furthermore, technology was not like today. Internet consisted of AOL dial up. Today public awareness and internet have skewed the entire purpose of SO Registry. over the last 20 years I have lost a job, been publicly humiliated with flyers posted around my neighborhood, been denied jobs, denied a state professional license, currently being threatened at my current employment by an anonymous person leaving my SO Registration flyer in envelopes for management to receive stating if they don’t terminate me they will go public that the company employs a sex offender (bad PR is a BIG risk in my business) with now the most recent episode of spending thousands on a cruise ship reservation 9 months ago to be contacted last week (3 weeks before the departure date) by the cruise lines safety office inquiring they need details of the offense to review before they can decide if they’ll allow me to sail on the cruise ship in 3 weeks. The general public and businesses have taken a SO public awareness registration and turned it into a bible of judging, ridiculing, threatening, firing and humiliating people to what end? It MUST stop! I know everyone that’s on SO registration has experienced exactly what I have endured! I know the general public has no sympathy or even worse feels everyone on SO Registry deserves everything we get! It’s completely WRONG! The SO Registry is a continued lifetime punishment! I was given probation! I served my punishment. Yet 20 years later I live daily continuing to be punished. Whats worse is I was convicted in Wisconsin where they charge $100 annually for SO registration. How is this not an added punishment??? I served my sentence! Yet 20 years later I have to personally visit the local Florida sheriff to Re-Register TWICE a year, notify the sheriff of any plans to leave my residence more than 4 days, have a deputy come by to “verify my address” several times a year so my own children are asking “dad why is a deputy stopping at our house”, Pay $100 annually to be on Wisconsin SO registry where I was convicted and live the public humility of being branded a SO on a registry that offers no details of the offense other than conviction date of 20 years ago.How is this not cruel and unusual punishment?!?! Amazes me when confronted or asked by employers, friends, co-workers and now even cruise lines what the details are and I say I was 19 she was 15 and had consensual contact the reply is the same EVERYTIME! “Are you kidding me?!?! That’s it?!?!” The government wants public awareness with SO Registry??? Put the basic facts! Offender and victims age at time of offense! With consent or without! Or at least violent or non-violent! I don’t know where to begin, but with what I’ve read and there being 850,000 or whatever number, why can’t we form a class action suit to change the law, or abolish the registry???!!! I’ve been told by multiple employment prospects if I wasn’t on SO Registry they would have hired me! What can be done to change this? Whats worse even with the fact my circumstance was non-violent and a difference of 4 years of age when we were both teenagers, I’m sentenced to Lifetime Registration! Something has to be done!

  4. Mark
    April 19, 2016 at 12:22 am

    The registry is for profit. Sex offender laws are just building blocks that are a reflection of law makers careers. If they really wanted to eradicate sex crime they would turn there focus on Hollywood and advertising agencies. They are the ones who exploit sex. Some things are meant to be behind closed doors. Sex is no longer sacret but a marketing tool. As the old saying goes good publicity or bad publicity it’s all money.
    There is answers to our growing problems. But they don’t care. This is not the America that was founded almost 300 years ago.
    Does a cop really want crime to end? He would be out of a job. The government is creating problems so that they can create supply and demand. Does electronic companies really want to build you a device that will last 20 or 30 years. Of course not. They have conditioned us to the point that every 5 yrs we are buying a new device when in fact they can build to last half your life.
    No one in the government wants to let their hand off the money. They don’t care about America. They care about the god they worship MONEY. They act but in truth they don’t lose any sleep as they snuggle in the bed that is in their million dollar home
    If they were smart they would sware in the country’s most trusted psychologist of sexual deviant behavior and let them model a system that could target potential sex offenders and stop them in their tracks and begin a reform on the potential sex offender.
    The SO Registry should be blocked from the public but not law enforcement for the purpose of kidnapped victims. That is the only usefulness of the registry that can be. And all the public needs to know is that a sex offender has moved in your area not his/her address.
    Bottom line. … if you should be required to register for life then you shouldn’t be let out to begin with.

  5. There is a drunk driving registry....
    April 16, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    …in the state of Ohio (https://ext.dps.state.oh.us/omvi/)

    Welcome to Ohio’s Habitual Offender Registry, a database of people who have been convicted at least five times of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and meet certain other criteria established by law.

    You can search the Registry using any one (or more) of the above search boxes. For example, you can search by last name only, or by county only. Or you can refine your search by filling in multiple search parameters.

    A state law adopted in September 2008 established the Registry, and defined who should be included:

    •Anyone with five or more convictions during the past 20 years (at least one of the convictions must be since the law took effect on September 30, 2008).

    •The Registry does not include convictions more than 20 years old.

    •The Registry does not include deceased people.

    •The Registry does not include out-of-state convictions.

    •Juvenile offenses are included.

    •If a single incident results in multiple impaired driving-related convictions, it is counted as one conviction for purposes of this Registry.

    The Registry is compiled from information Ohio courts report to the Ohio Department of Public Safety and will be updated monthly. Click here to see Ohio Revised Code 5502.10, which established the Registry. Click here to see a complete list of offenses that are considered drunken driving-related for purposes of this Registry.

  6. Emil S
    April 13, 2016 at 2:55 am

    Dear friends,
    we need to sue these commercial or for-profit websites that include sex offender registry data available in their websites. For example, website like Homefacts.com.

    I’m in NC and if there are others who want to sue these website, may be we can do something about it.

    http://californiarsol.org/2014/08/owner-of-websites-loses-case-in-federal-district-court/

  7. Ron
    April 10, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    One has to note that the new train ride and familiar fight, belongs to juvenile registrants. This has a consequence of further legitimizing constraints on adult offenders. Subsequently it would embolden the all too popular stance and unwavering positions that politicians take in their lawmaking and grandstanding. By no means is the act and reason for registry coincidental or consequential. It is simply preemptive, premeditated and punitive under its own self serving schematics. For a body of government, particularly judicial to remain complicit to this charade, is essentially an improper use or act of office, which severely derails the intent and language of the constitution. Just or appropriate as the referees and friends of the court want assume themselves to be, is born the ignorance of men and the attack on common sense. Even expected public defenders have a hand in the role for murky justice and sadly private attorneys who may or may not seek notoriety or inclinations in these particular cases. For every precedent or challenge presented, for every fight aforementioned in his or her highness belies one exact litmus…..right versus wrong or good versus bad. Let not the “juvenile class” be a cause for departure, due to disparity of recidivism, or allow the establishment to placate extreme emergence for rescuing youth to falsely show they possess compassion for innocent by association of age. Their is a mitigation of many circumstances that systematically ensnares offenders, from a slew of slick high ball/ low ball grand jury indictments to dealing with the playroom of probable cause. The defense for registrants is diluted and deserves no consider from a jury of your peers. Judges in many levels of court have no leeway to recommend or rescind. So the card is set aside and yielded from the deck. The intent is to disenfranchise, deduce and displaced your quality of life rather by policy or progressive standards. The law of the land has a lackluster shine and the constitution is but a dusty book, hunkered like a hermit with no friends. We are in big trouble if we allow “otherness” to assert its way and culture we are in deeper trouble if we enable the establishment embark its affluence on the people without input, fairness or forethought. The chambers and halls would be filled with willing men a time ago, but what we have here now are injected agents of the wealthy and power brokers who only sell deeds to friends and family.

  8. April 10, 2016 at 12:11 am

    If one really thinks about the sex registry it is a form of extortion and testing and the main goal that they use is sex as the bait. There is nobody in danger at the time. People that go into adult chat rooms are in adult chat rooms for a purpose. One can pretend that they are a teen to ensnare one into all this but that is basically a callous means by law enforcment and actually goes against the Ten commandments.
    All those caught up in all this including myself would have to call them on this. I would say God is rule when it comes to Government or have they gone the way of the Pharisee’s . At the time of the encounter law enforcment are just glad to get the one to travel down there and than they use all ruse’s possible to intimidate that person.
    Its more of a money cycle with 850.000 people on the registry. Those in blue sin just as much as the next person. Doing things in public are a lot different than sneaking around chatrooms and I agree with all on here that this has got to stop.
    Even these teenage kids that make a mistake at home or in boy and girl relationships where sex is involved and one parent reports to authorities when they should discipline the child in their own manner should never get authorities involved unless it is the last resort. Its a type of a con game/witch hunt to law enforcment. Who would want to ruin someone’s reputation over something like this. In the sex registry situation law enforcment doesn’t really care about one’s reputation or life’s ambition or goals. It would seem God protests more than man protects.
    So if the registry saves one child and at the same time snags 850.000 on the registry, thought or no thought, something is wrong. Real is real imaginary is imaginary. Even in war if it saves one American life and we lose hundred’s in the process, than what’s it worth? One would really have to think that wouldn’t one.
    If one is convicted in a internet sex sting operation. One usually goes to prison, pays a hefty fine and when they get out they can look forward to living as a sex offender for the rest of their life. The hardship that those go thru under this label and all compliments of government rule to this outlandish underhanded law. So who is tricking who?

    • david
      April 10, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Internet stings are conducted for one reason: MONEY. States get funding from the federal government/ I.C.A.C. to do these stings. There’s really very few instances of an adult actually luring a child online. It just doesn’t happen. Almost all internet sex crime (not including CP- altho now the govt. is starting to use CP to conduct stings) is created by the cops. It’s all about the funds. I used the craigslist personals for over 5 years (not proud of it, no, but so what) and NEVER encountered ONE underage person until the fateful day that I got caught in a bait and switch.

      Since there was no real person and nothing happened, haven’t i been convicted of a thought crime?

    • It does advocate on behalf of all impacted, not just kids
      April 10, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Look at the end of the entire paper, it advocates for complete abolishment of the registry. While the crux of the paper focuses on children and damage to them, it does carry over to the entire populace impacted by the registry in recommending abolishment.

      • Paul
        April 10, 2016 at 6:44 pm

        I agree with Judith’s point on this particular issue. While it is abhorrent that we have not only considered putting juveniles on the registry but enacted that capability, lawmakers can easily use this as a diversionary tactic to correct this injustice while making laws for adults ever more punitive. In other words, while righting one wrong, they could be making another wrong even worse. There is a particular State Senator in my home state whose positions on juveniles and Romeo and Juliet scenarios has softened but he has become even more draconian for adults. Clever politicians always “walk back” their previous stances once their politics runs out of fashion. Many people did not know when the Adam Walsh Act passed that it allowed for juveniles to be placed on registries. Now that the cat has been let out of the bag on that and almost everyone can see the absurdity of doing that, SOME politicians (not all) are trying to make their views seem more current and fashionable. Judith is right; we can’t let the rat b*st** politicians to use the issue of juveniles to scapegoat the rest of us.

        • d
          April 11, 2016 at 2:07 am

          The sex crime hysteria is similar to the “war on drugs” in the way poorly considered laws get passed that do nothing to solve the original problem. Just like sex crimes, many first time drug offenders were/are dealt extremely harsh sentences. There’s as many, if not more, crazy stories of people’s lives being ruined by our stupid drug laws as there are lives being ruined by our stupid sex laws. Finally, now that marijuana is becoming legal, there’s hope for some relief on that front. Of course, now it’s becoming politically fashionable to question putting non-violent drug offenders in prison for long stays. If anybody wants to feel better about being a SO study up on federal drug cases. You would not believe how shady and incredibly dumb the system is. And very, very cruel.

          At least the issue of kids being on the registry is getting some attention. No child should ever have been put on a public registry and the fact that over a quarter of SO’s are children just makes the whole registry/sex crime thing seem even more backwards and absurd. I think that abolishing the registry for juveniles will eventually lead to relief for adult registrants. At least it’s the start of a rational conversation about sex crimes.

          Just like the drug thing, eventually so many people will be affected that it’ll reach the tipping point and peoples minds will change and the political pendulum will swing away from the extreme position we are dealing with right now. We must stay positive and believe that change is possible. Eventually even the Puritans realized there were no witches.

        • Paul
          April 11, 2016 at 6:37 pm

          D,

          That’s what I hope happens but knowing how politicians’ minds tend to operate, I could see them correcting the injustice of putting juveniles on the registry while totally ignoring or making the problem worse for adults. I’m not convinced the public will put 2+2 together since we tend to sympathize with juveniles, in general. But I hope you are right.

  9. Emil S
    April 9, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Why just juvenile? Registry does more damage and infringes upon the human rights of US citizens. Because of being in the registry, people are isolated from the society and faces grim prospect of finding job or a decent place to live.
    Sex Offender Registry is a dark stain on the United States where it’s citizens are treated worst than illegal immigrants or worst than humans. .

  10. Dad
    April 9, 2016 at 10:06 am

    This is Not about what is best for society OR to protect children.

  11. Paul
    April 8, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I had a therapist once tell me that although he does not like the registry and thinks it should be abolished, he couldn’t afford the professional consequences of speaking out against it. True story.

  12. Paul
    April 8, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Someone once remarked to me recently that registrants and their families speaking out against the registry are not enough, since we are most affected by it and naturally would have a negative view. This is where we need the Judith Levine’s of the world. They need equal airtime with the Victim Advocates on TV and the mainstream media. Unfortunately, most criminal defense lawyers truly have no idea how the registry effects people. Once they are through with a case, they move on to the next one and give very little afterthought to their clients. Prosecutors know how it works but don’t care. So who are we left with?

    I would ask this question. Where are the treatment providers? Some are out there (like Jill Levinson, Richard Wollert and Fred Berlin) and a few folks from ATSA will now and again denounce the registry but their cries are few and far between. These people work with us. They’ve seen our development. They know we are capable of change. Why do they remain silent? Is it because speaking the truth would jeopardize their prestigious jobs working for the government? Our treatment providers should be coming out in droves vouching for our character, conducting studies and refuting the registry. I don’t believe they will ever do that. For to do that would be to risk losing business, credibility as they say with the establishment.

    What about this notion that only the “experts” voices mean anything in this struggle? I reject that. I think our voices count. I think just because we are on the registry doesn’t mean we aren’t human beings with a perspective that makes sense. Once we join together ALONG with the academics, and those impartial lawyers who haven’t been personally affected by this but are brave enough to take a stand, that will help.

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