✍️✍️✍️ Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study
In an effort to standardize the vast and growing number of state sex offender registration Balance Between Independence And Interdependence, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in In other Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study, all sex offenders are treated equally, and all registration information Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study available to Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study public on a Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study Internet site. Some of the requirements Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study AWA include Summary: A Career As A Medical Assistant are not Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study to Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study following:. Megan's mother, Maureen Kanka, started Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study lobby to change the laws, arguing that registration established by Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study Wetterling Act, was Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study for community protection. Such programs are effective Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study lowering recidivism by 15—18 percent. Resources: Stop It Now is an organization dedicated toward preventing sexual abuse of children. Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study photograph of Ethan Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study. Under polygraph, many apprehended sex offenders indicated that most of their offenses were not reported.
Michigan Updates Sex Offender Registration Act 2011
Registrants must periodically update this information so that it remains current in each jurisdiction in which they reside, work, or attend school. Often, the requirement to register lasts for decades and even a lifetime. Although the details about some youth offenders prosecuted in juvenile courts are disclosed only to law enforcement, most states provide these details to the public, often over the Internet, because of community notification laws. Residency restriction laws impose another layer of control, subjecting people convicted of sexual offenses as children to a range of rules about where they may live. This report challenges the view that registration laws and related restrictions are an appropriate response to sex offenses committed by children.
Even acknowledging the considerable harm that youth offenders can cause, these requirements operate as, in effect, continued punishment of the offender. And contrary to common public perceptions, the empirical evidence suggests that putting youth offenders on registries does not advance community safety—including because it overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor, undifferentiated by their dangerousness. Human Rights Watch undertook this investigation because we believe the time is right to better understand what it means to be a youth offender raised on the registry. Sex offender laws that trigger registration requirements for children began proliferating in the United States during the late s and early s.
Since some of these state laws have been in place for nearly two decades, and the federal law on sex offender registration is coming up on its eighth anniversary, their effects have been reverberating for years. Sexual assault is a significant problem in the United States and takes a huge toll on survivors, including children. According to the US Department of Justice DOJ , there were an estimated , rapes and sexual assaults in the most recent year for which data is available. In an estimated 24, of these cases, the victims were between the ages of 12 and The DOJ study did not examine how many of these incidents involved an adult or youth offender. Thus, we do not know how many were similar to the vast majority of the cases investigated for this report—that is, cases of sexual offenses committed by children against another child.
Nevertheless, the public and lawmakers have understandable concern, even understandable outrage, about sex crimes. Sex offender registration laws have been put in place to respond to those concerns. In theory, this was a well-intentioned method to protect children and communities from further instances of sexual assault. In reality, however, this policy was based on a misconception: that those found guilty of a sex offense are likely to commit new sex offenses. Available research indicates that sex offenders, and particularly people who commit sex offenses as children, are among the least likely to reoffend. In , the national recidivism rate for all offenses non-sexual and sexual combined was 40 percent, whereas the rate was 13 percent for adult sex offenders.
Several studies—including one study of a cohort that included 77 percent youth convicted of violent sex offenses—have found a recidivism rate for youth sex offenders of between four and ten percent, and one study in found the rate to be as low as one percent. These rates are so low that they do not differ significantly from the sex crime rates found among many other and much larger groups of children, or even the general public. When first adopted, registration laws neither required nor prohibited inclusion of youth sex offenders. However, by the mids, many state sex offender registration laws were amended to include children adjudicated delinquent of sex offenses, as well as children tried and convicted of sex offenses in adult court.
The resulting policies swept children into a system created to regulate the post-conviction lives of adult sex offenders. In an effort to protect children from sexual assault and hold sex offenders accountable, lawmakers failed to consider that some of the sex offenders they were subjecting to registration were themselves children, in need of policy responses tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.
The harm befalling youth sex offenders can be severe. Youth sex offenders on the registry experience severe psychological harm. They are stigmatized, isolated, often depressed. Many consider suicide, and some succeed. They and their families have experienced harassment and physical violence. They are sometimes shot at, beaten, even murdered; many are repeatedly threatened with violence. Youth sex offenders on the registry are sometimes denied access to education because residency restriction laws prevent them from being in or near a school. Youth sex offender registrants despair of ever finding employment, even while they are burdened with mandatory fees that can reach into the hundreds of dollars on an annual basis.
Youth sex offender registrants often cannot find housing that meets residency restriction rules, meaning that they and their families struggle to house themselves and often experience periods of homelessness. Families of youth offenders also confront enormous obstacles in living together as a family—often because registrants are prohibited from living with other children. Finally, the impacts of being a youth offender subject to registration are multi-generational—affecting the parents, and also the children, of former offenders. The children of youth sex offenders often cannot be dropped off at school by their parent. Some restrictions imposed on the lives of registrants are so onerous and labyrinthine, it is surprising that registrants actually manage to adhere to them.
Many do not. The consequences of running afoul of sex offender registration laws can be severe. The complex rules and regulations that govern the lives of sex offenders on the registry are particularly difficult to navigate when youth offenders, like the majority of those interviewed for this report, first begin registering when they are still children. Many youth sex offenders never learn that they will have to register until after they accept a plea deal and often after they serve their time in prison or juvenile detention.
This is especially likely to be true of children in the juvenile system, where there is no clear legal obligation that they be informed of the consequences of their admissions of guilt. Youth sex offenders are also sometimes subjected to retroactive registration requirements for offenses committed decades in the past—even after years of living safely in the community. Recent laws, like the Adam Walsh Act, reserve the harshest punishments for those who target children. Yet this means that it is often children themselves who experience these harsher penalties, because their crimes almost always involve other kids. It is unknown how many persons are subject to registration laws in the United States for crimes committed as children.
However, in , there were , sex offender registrants adult and youth offenders in the country. What proportion of these people committed sexual offenses as children is impossible to determine from publicly available national data. Human Rights Watch tried in various ways to obtain this information, but to no avail. We requested data on offenders registered for crimes committed as children from all 50 states.
Two states responded with aggregate counts but we were unable to determine the percentage of total registrants these individuals represent. Our attempts to use public registries to obtain counts were stymied by the fact that states and the federal government do not independently track the age of registrants at offense; moreover, state data may undercount the reality. Since the family members of youth sex offenders often must abide by residency restriction laws if they want to live together, the numbers of people in the US affected by these laws is significant.
Registering sex offenders and publicizing information about them is predicated on the idea that sex crimes are committed by strangers. However, evidence suggests that about 86 percent of sex offenses are committed by persons known to the victim. According to the Justice Department, 93 percent of sexually abused children are molested by family members, close friends, or acquaintances. Registration will not protect a victim from a family member.
Moreover, early thinking about juvenile sexual offending behavior was based on what was known about adult child molesters, particularly the adult pedophile, under the mistaken belief that a significant portion of them began their offending during childhood. However, more recent clinical models emphasize that this retrospective logic has obscured important motivational, behavioral, and prognostic differences between youth sex offenders and adult sex offenders and has therefore overestimated the role of deviant sexual tendencies in people convicted of sex offenses as children.
More current models emphasize the diversity among children who commit sexual offenses, who in the great majority of cases have a favorable prognosis for never reoffending sexually. Registering youth sex offenders is bad public policy for other reasons, including the fact it overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor, undifferentiated by their dangerousness. With thousands of new registrants added each year, law enforcement is stymied in their attempt to focus on the most dangerous offenders. Sex offender registries treat very different types of offenses and offenders in the same way.
Instead of using available tools to assess the dangerousness of particular people who commit sex offenses as children, most sex offender laws paint them all with the same brush, irrespective of the variety of offenses they may have committed and in total denial of their profound differences from adults. Not all states apply sex offender registration law indiscriminately to youth offenders. In Oklahoma, for example, children adjudicated delinquent of sex offenses are treated in a manner more consistent with juvenile sexual offending behavior. There, a child accused of committing a registerable sex offense undergoes a risk evaluation process reviewed by a panel of experts and a juvenile court judge. The preference is for treatment, not registration, and most high-risk youth are placed in treatment programs with registration decisions deferred until they are released, at which point they may no longer be deemed high-risk.
The programs and attention provided by the state to high-risk youth means that very few youth are ultimately registered. The few children that are placed on the registry have their information disclosed only to law enforcement, and youth offenders are removed once they reach the age of The harm that people convicted of sex offenses as children have caused to victims of sexual assault must be acknowledged, and justice often requires punishment.
As a human rights organization, Human Rights Watch seeks to prevent sexual violence and to ensure accountability for sexual assaults. But accountability achieved through punishment should fit both the offense and the offender. Good public policy should deliver measurable protection to the community and measurable benefit to victims. There is little reason to believe that registering people who commit sexual offenses as children delivers either. Under human rights law, youth sex offenders should be treated in a manner that reflects their age and capacity for rehabilitation and respects their rights to family unity, to education, and to be protected from violence.
Protecting the community and limiting unnecessary harm to youth sex offenders are not mutually incompatible goals. Instead, they can enhance and reinforce each other. Human Rights Watch believes that unless and until evidence-based research shows that sex offender registration schemes or other means of monitoring youth sex offenders have real benefits for public safety, persons convicted of sex offenses committed as children should not be subject to registration, community notification, or residency restriction requirements.
If some youth offenders are subject to these laws, they should never be automatically placed on registries without undergoing an individualized assessment of their particular needs for treatment and rehabilitation, including a periodic review of the necessity of registration. Pittman is considered a leading national expert on the application of sex offender registration and notification laws to children. Before joining Human Rights Watch, she worked as an attorney at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she specialized in and consulted nationally on child sexual assault cases and registries. Pittman has provided testimony to numerous legislatures, including the US Congress, on the subject. In all, we investigated cases of individuals who committed sexual offenses as children across 20 states for this report, including in Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.
We conducted in-person interviews with youth sex offenders, as well as immediate family members of another 15, in those 20 states. These in-person interviews form the basis for many of the findings of this report. Human Rights Watch selected the 20 states because of their geographic diversity and different policy approaches to youth sex offenders. At the time of our research:. In addition to our interviews with people placed on sex offender registries for offenses committed as children, we spoke with family members of registrants, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials, academic experts, juvenile justice advocates, mental health professionals, and victims of child-on-child sexual assault. Individuals placed on the registry for offenses committed as adults were not interviewed for this report.
Approximately 95 percent of the youth offenders we interviewed were found delinquent of sex offenses in juvenile court proceedings; less than five percent were convicted in criminal courts. Many of the registrants were subjected to the same sex offender registration, public disclosure, and residency restrictions as adults. We identified the majority of interviewees through a written request we posted in a bulletin circulated among loved ones of individuals on registries, mental health treatment providers, juvenile advocates, social workers, and defense attorneys.
Approximately interviewees were identified by a search of state sex offender registries. In addition to seeking geographic diversity, we sought registrants from an array of locations including both rural and urban areas and ethnic and racial backgrounds. The overwhelming majority of the individuals interviewed for this report started registering when they were children under age Registrants were between the ages of 14 and 48 at the time we interviewed them. We made a substantial effort to interview registrants of various ages to better assess the impact of being a child or adolescent on the sex offender registry.
The majority of the interviews with youth offenders were conducted at their homes. All interviews were conducted in private. A family member or significant other was present for a portion of most of the interviews. Registrants were also asked a series of questions to determine whether the registrant experienced psycho-social harm, felt vulnerable to or experienced violence, or was subject to discrimination because of his or her status as a registrant. Before each interview, Human Rights Watch informed each interviewee of the purpose of the investigation and the kinds of issues that would be covered, and asked whether they wanted to participate. A parent or guardian gave permission before contact was made with potential interviewees under the age of We informed interviewees that they could discontinue the interview at any time or decline to answer any specific questions without consequence.
No financial incentives were offered or provided to persons interviewed. Human Rights Watch has disguised with pseudonyms the identities of all interviewees, except in two cases where the degree of publicity surrounding the cases made disguising the identities impossible, and we had the informed consent of the two individuals to use their real names. All documents cited in the report are publicly available or on file with Human Rights Watch. Sexual violence is a serious problem in the United States.
According to a US Department of Justice DOJ study, an estimated , rapes and sexual assaults occurred in the United States in the most recent year for which data are available. While 24, incidents of sexual violence against children is a disturbing number, it may be an underestimate. Victim fear, shame, or loyalty to the abuser can each contribute to the underreporting of sexual violence. There is evidence, however, that victims today —including child victims—are more likely to disclose abuse, at least to loved ones, than they once were. Historically, the reluctance or inability of survivors of abuse or their family members to report sexual assault crimes has contributed to under-enforcement of the law: the vast majority of sex crimes do not lead to arrests and convictions.
For adults, the emotional and psychological consequences of sexual violence can be profound and enduring and include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to Dr. Marc Chaffin, who has studied the specific impacts on child victims of child-on-child sexual offenses,. In many cases, the trauma of child sexual abuse is made more complex because the abuse occurs within the family. I felt confused and shocked. As I listened to Ted, I began feeling everything through him and seeing it through his eyes. I felt so deeply sad for what he had been through, and I battled with feelings of responsibility.
What could I have done to prevent this? She stated that it,. Child sexual abuse is a complicated form of harm. The effect sexual violence can have on survivors, their family members, and their communities can be harrowing. After a sexual assault, victims may experience a wide range of emotions, such as sadness, anger, fear, shame, guilt, grief, or self-blame; and they may grow up to experience a variety of psychological, social, relationship, and physical difficulties. In part as a result of high-profile cases of sexual abuse in the late s and s, state and federal policymakers passed an array of registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws for individuals convicted of sex offenses.
Each state, US territory, and federally-recognized Indian Tribe now has its own set of sex offender registration, notification, and residency restriction laws. Overlaying this diversity is a series of federal laws. States moved quickly to implement federal sex offender legislation, with a majority passing notification and registration statutes for adult sex offenders between and Congress passed its first community notification law in in response to the abduction and murder of seven-year-old New Jersey resident Megan Kanka. Some form of community notification for adult sex offenders has been present in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since The Lychner Act, passed in , amended the federal community notification laws, providing for a national database to track sex offenders and subjecting certain offenders to lifetime registration and notification requirements.
When first adopted, federal registration and notification laws neither required nor prohibited inclusion of persons convicted of sex offenses as children youth sex offenders. But by the mids, many state sex offender registration laws were drafted to include children adjudicated delinquent of sex offenses as well as children tried and convicted of sex offenses in adult court. The resulting policies swept youth sex offenders into a system created to regulate the post-conviction lives of adult sex offenders. In an effort to protect children from sexual assault and hold sex offenders accountable, lawmakers failed to fully consider that some of the sex offenders they were targeting were themselves children, in need of policy responses tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.
Today, federal law and the laws of all 50 states require adults to register with law enforcement. Eleven states and the District of Columbia do not register any child offenders adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court. However, these 12 jurisdictions do require registration for children convicted of sex offenses in adult court. In many states, everyone who is required to register is included on the online registry.
In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, adults and children convicted in criminal court are generally subject to public notification, meaning that these individuals are included on the online registry. A growing number of states and municipalities have also prohibited registered offenders from living within a designated distance typically to 2, feet of places where children gather, such as schools, playgrounds, and daycare centers. In an effort to standardize the vast and growing number of state sex offender registration systems, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in The Adam Walsh Act did not, in its initial draft, specifically address the situation of child offenders.
SORNA made several broad changes to existing federal guidelines on sex offender registration that include, but are not limited to:. To comply with SORNA, jurisdictions must also require registered offenders to keep their information current in each jurisdiction in which they reside, work, or attend school. Throughout the United States, sex offender registries include offenders convicted for a range of acts, from offensive or vulgar behavior to heinous crimes.
Registries create the impression that neighborhoods are thick with recidivist sexual predators, making it impossible for residents, including parents, to discern who actually is dangerous. Many people assume that anyone listed on the sex offender registry must be a rapist or a child molester. But most states spread the net much more widely. In reality, this policy was based on a misconception: that everyone found guilty of a sex offense is a recidivist pedophile. Individuals who commit sexual offenses are not all the same. A one-size-fits-all approach to sex offender registration does not contribute to public safety, especially since, as described further below, the most dangerous offenders are often supervised in the same way as very low-risk offenders who are not likely to commit new sex offenses.
A report from the Texas Department of Public Safety revealed that the number of registered sex offenders in Texas more than tripled between and The figure was 54, offenders, including nearly 7, who were placed on the registry for offenses committed as children. Despite the massive growth in the number of registered sex offenders, studies of states that have implemented registration requirements are inconclusive as to whether the registries have any effect on the incidence of reported sex offenses.
First, sex offender registries are focused on preventing recidivism, when instead the focus should be on deterring the first offense from ever happening. As discussed in detail in the following chapter, youth offenders, including youth sex offenders, have even lower rates of recidivism than adults. The emotion provoked by the sexual abuse of a child is powerful—powerful enough to make many overlook the embedded false presumptions and misperceptions about risks of reoffending, especially with regard to children who have committed sexual offenses against other children.
Second, sex offender registration overburdens law enforcement. Third, registration fails to target resources where they are most needed. Federal guidelines adopted under SORNA risk worsening the problem by mandating that states eliminate the use of risk assessment tools to help identify those offenders who are likely to reoffend. Assigning sex offender tiers based on crime of conviction provides very little information about who a sex offender is and what his or her risk for reoffense may be. While the sex offender database grows exponentially, funding for monitoring sex offenders is on the decline.
A review of state sex offender registration legislation applied to child offenders found that only a small number of states were registering child sex offenders based solely upon the type of offense. Federal and state laws on sex offender registration and notification fail to take into account relevant—indeed, fundamental—differences between children and adults. These include not only differences in cognitive capacity, which affect their culpability, but also differences in their amenability to rehabilitation, in the nature of their sexual behaviors and offenses and in the likelihood that they will reoffend.
Indeed recent laws, like the Adam Walsh Act, reserve the harshest punishments for those who target children without seeming to appreciate that child offenders, whose crimes almost always involve other kids, are particularly likely to be subjected to these harsher penalties. It is axiomatic that children are in the process of growing up, both physically and mentally. Their forming identities make young offenders excellent candidates for rehabilitation—they are far more able than adults to learn new skills, find new values, and re-embark on a better, law-abiding life. Justice is best served when these rehabilitative principles, which are at the core of human rights standards, are at the heart of responses to child sex offending.
Psychological research confirms what every parent knows: children, including teenagers, act more irrationally and immaturely than adults. Adolescent thinking is present-oriented and tends to ignore, discount, or not fully understand future outcomes and implications. Neuroscientists are now providing a physiological explanation for the features of childhood that developmental psychologists—as well as parents and teachers—have identified for years. Moreover, the fact that young people continue to develop into early adulthood suggests that they may be particularly amenable to change.
Only a relatively small proportion of adolescents who experiment in risky or illegal activities develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior that persist into adulthood. The image of the adult sexual predator is a poor fit for the vast majority of children who commit sexual offenses. Children are not merely younger versions of adult sexual offenders. Current science contradicts the theory that children who have committed a sexual offense specialize in sexual crime, nor is there any evidence of the kind of fixed, abnormal sexual preferences that are part of the image of a pedophile.
Compared to adult sexual offending, sexual misconduct by children is generally less aggressive, often more experimental than deviant, and occurs over shorter periods of time. Youth sex offenders come from a variety of social and family backgrounds. Many of the sexual behaviors of youth are problematic, and need to be addressed in a clinical setting or by the justice system, but placing children who commit sex offenses on a registry—often for life— is going too far. As noted above, there is no scientific foundation for the belief that children who commit sexual offenses pose a danger of future sexual predation.
Recidivism rates for youth sex offenders are consistently low. One study that included a cohort composed mostly of youth convicted of violent sex offenses found a recidivism rate of 10 percent. The enactment across the United States of increasingly comprehensive sex offender registration laws has brought predictable results: the number of individuals adult and youth offenders placed on sex offender registries has exploded. In February , approximately , individuals nationwide were listed on sex offender registries. While it may be safe to assume that the number of registered youth offenders has expanded alongside adult registrants, there are no disaggregated national statistics on youth sex offenders.
This chapter therefore contains information Human Rights Watch culled mainly from our interviews with youth sex offenders and the family members of another 15 youth comprising cases. Throughout the United States, children as young as nine years old who are adjudicated delinquent may be subject to sex offender registration laws. For example, in Delaware in , there were approximately children on the sex offender registry, 55 of whom were under the age of Human Rights Watch recorded several important dates for each of the youth sex offenders interviewed for this report, allowing us to determine their age at conviction and the age they were first placed on the registry.
The median age at conviction or adjudication was The median age at first registration was Eight interviewed registrants were age 10 or younger at the time of their conviction and when registration began, with the youngest being 9 years old. A full 84 percent of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch were 17 years old or younger when they began registering. Most jurisdictions mandate registration of children convicted of a wide range of sex offenses in adult court. Implementation of registration, including the federal SORNA provisions, varies across jurisdictions, resulting in a wide variety of offenses and offenders triggering registration requirements.
For example:. The following are examples of the wide range of offenses that can trigger registration requirements for youth sex offenders:. The cases examined for this report had a total of convictions often due to multiple charges arising from the same incident. Offense Category. Number of Convictions. Percentage of Convictions. There were an additional convictions in 43 other crime categories.
When sexual interactions involve a non-consenting party, the sexual interactions are, by definition, abusive. Under many current laws, she could be adjudicated delinquent and required to register as a sex offender. Some children are convicted and required to register after engaging in allegedly consensual sex with other children. These cases, known as statutory rape cases, have received a great deal of press attention and have in some cases led states to reform their laws so that children convicted of statutory rape are not required to register.
The intent of sex offender registration and notification laws is to protect children from sexual victimization and exploitation by adults,  and it was not the original intent of federal legislators to criminalize sexual interactions between adolescent peers when there is no evidence of coercion. For instance, in Michigan, year-old Alexander D. Alexander and his girlfriend met when they were freshmen in high school and dated for nearly a year before having sex.
In Michigan, the legal age of consent is However, Alexander will remain on the sex offender registry until the year In Florida, an year-old boy, Grayson A. The girlfriend, Lily A. In a interview, Grayson stated that he lost at least 17 jobs because of being on the sex offender registry. Grayson became homeless and ended up living in his car. Among those interviewed by Human Rights Watch for this report, the majority were first placed on sex offender registries between and Over 60 percent of the interviewees had been registered for five years or less at the time of our interviews with them.
Although there are no national statistics on the race and gender of youth offenders subject to sex offender registration, a Department of Justice study of youth offenders, examining data on youth offenders committing sex offenses against other children, found that 93 percent of the offenders were male. Among the youth offenders interviewed by Human Rights Watch for this report, After they have served out their sentences in juvenile detention or prison, youth sex offenders must comply with a complex array of legal requirements applicable to all sex offenders, whether children or adults.
Under sex offender registration laws, youth offenders must register with law enforcement, providing their name, home address, place of employment, school address, a current photograph, and other personal information. Perhaps the most onerous aspects of registration from the perspective of the youth offender are the community notification and residency restriction requirements, which can relegate a youth sex offender who has served their time to the margins of society. Under community notification laws, the police make registration information accessible to the public, typically via the Internet. And under residency restriction laws, youth sex offenders are prohibited from living within a designated distance of places where children gather, such as schools, playgrounds, parks, and even bus stops.
Read in isolation, certain sex offender registration requirements may appear reasonable and insignificant to some. It is only once the totality of the requirements, their interrelationship, and their operation in practice are examined that their full impact can be understood. Community notification involves publicizing information about persons on sex offender registries. States and the federal government provide information about sex offenders through publicly accessible websites. Communities are also notified about sex offenders in their area through public meetings, fliers, and newspaper announcements.
Some jurisdictions have expanded notification to include highway billboards, postcards, lawn signs, and publicly available and searchable websites produced by private entities. Click to expand Image. A series of newspaper clippings that a father of two sons has collected over the years. The two sons are listed on the public sex offender registry for offenses committed when they were ages 9 and 11, and they were often publicly named in the local newspapers. Community notification was initially reserved for offenders classified as having a high risk of reoffending. But today, every jurisdiction that registers sex offenders also makes publicly available certain information about them, regardless of individual risk classifications and irrespective of the fact that a registrant was a youth offender.
With the passage of SORNA in , federal guidelines for community notification became more stringent, requiring that states post on publicly accessible websites the picture, home address, and location of the school and employer of certain categories of sex offenders—whether or not they were juveniles at the time of the offense. The state. Since , the number of states subjecting children to community notification via the internet has grown as jurisdictions passed legislation to come into compliance with SORNA. The Department of Justice DOJ received hundreds of critical public comments about the treatment of children as adults for purposes of public notification. As of , most jurisdictions subjected children convicted of sex offenses in adult court to the same community notification regimes as adult sex offenders.
Some jurisdictions permit youths to petition to be removed after a number of years. In some states, a juvenile adjudicated delinquent has to be 14 to be listed on public sex-offender registries. In others, children may be eligible for public Internet community notification at age 10, 11, or Youth sex offender registrants interviewed for this report described various ways in which their photographs and personal information were made public even when not posted on official state sex offender registration websites:.
Official sex offender registration information is also available for purchase or use by private security companies, which sometimes create their own searchable web-based sex offender registries. These companies appear to take no responsibility for deleting records of persons removed from the registry. The information is still public and available through many court and private databases nationwide. A newspaper clipping that a father retained regarding the location of sex offenders on Halloween. Maya R. However, she says she lied in court to get away from her stepmother. When I returned from prison I was in the ninth grade. I was on probation from to while I attended high school.
In her freshman year of college, Maya lived in the campus dormitory. Maya said she was forced to drop out of college. The laws make it very difficult for me locate places where I can live. Despite her the sex offender label, Maya continued to try to find ways to succeed. She worked as a missionary and taught English overseas. While abroad, she fell in love and married a Filipino man. As of early , Maya and her husband were living in Michigan with a two-year-old girl and a baby boy on the way.
Officials in many jurisdictions have imposed residency and zoning restrictions on registered sex offenders, including children. Yet research on the effectiveness of residency restrictions imposed on adult sex offenders offers no indication that these laws achieve their intended goals of preventing abuse, protecting children, or reducing reoffending. In , Iowa enacted a law that prohibits sex offenders from living within 2, feet of a school or daycare center. It makes great sense politically, but has no affect [sic] whatsoever on public safety. Because residency restrictions have such questionable utility in deterring offenses committed by adults, there is little reason to expect they would deter children from committing sex offenses.
Meanwhile, sex offender residency restrictions have been shown to increase transience, homelessness, and instability. The duration of registration required of youth offenders convicted in adult court is, in most states, the same as that required of adults. But children adjudicated delinquent are often subject to shorter requirements or may petition to be removed from the registry. The following are two examples of youth offenders subject to lifetime registration requirements:. Even when registration is limited in duration, youth offender registrants can experience severe difficulties and high costs in purging their information from the registry.
It is now and I am still on the state website and all those other registration sites. I feel like it will never end. Sex offender registration and notification laws impose harsh, sometimes debilitating, and often lifelong sanctions on children convicted or adjudicated guilty of sex offenses. Many of the individuals interviewed for this report described being placed in a juvenile facility for a few years after being found guilty of the underlying sex offense; those convicted as adults spend time in adult prison. When they return to their communities as teenagers or young adults, they are already significantly behind their contemporaries in education, socialization, establishing stable family relations, and developing employment skills.
Yet, required to register as sex offenders, they soon learn they face further obstacles that may be nearly impossible to overcome. As we document below, youth placed on registries are often ostracized, threatened, and subject to strict residency requirements. Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by identity formation. These harms are compounded by the shame that comes with registration and notification, which often lacks an endpoint. Among the youth offenders and family members of 15 additional youth offenders interviewed for this report, most people, or Nearly a fifth of those interviewed 58 people, or Typically, children and adolescents have difficulty navigating close interpersonal relationships.
Now age 22, he is still on the registry and on sex offender parole, which means that anyone he wants to talk to, by phone or in person, is required to first fill out a form and obtain approval by his parole officer. No one cares if I am alive. In fact, I think they would prefer me dead. The alienation that emerges from a system set up to regulate personal relationships can thwart healthy development in young people. Human Rights Watch found that, left with little hope of ever leading a normal life, some youth offenders on the registry opted for what they may have viewed as the only remaining route of escape—suicide. I was just a kid. One child was adjudicated delinquent for a sex offense at age At the age of 17 he took his own life.
His picture, address and information on the Web…. Another young man who was placed on the registry at age 12 committed suicide at age 17, a few months after Michigan passed a law to remove offenders who were under 14 at the time of the offense from the registry. The mother of a former registrant told Human Rights Watch about the circumstances that led to her son, Carson E. Adjudicated delinquent at the age of 13 for rape, he successfully completed sex offender treatment and as a result was later removed from the public registry and subject to law-enforcement-only registration. But nearly 10 years after his offense, he started facing serious difficulties. At the age of 25, and within weeks of graduating from college, Carson committed suicide.
His mother says she knows in her heart that he killed himself because upon graduation, he was going to look for professional work and knew his background would come up in every job interview. Dominic G. In , when he was 15 years old, Dominic was charged with having molested his sister when he was approximately 14 and she was approximately Dominic denied the allegations. In , after Dominic had spent over a year going back and forth between a psychiatric hospital and jail, his defense attorney told Dominic and his mother that if he did not admit to the allegations, he would be transferred to adult court and face up to 20 years in prison.
Grace N. While in detention, Dominic received honors and was known for his artistic skill. By the age of 17 he was granted special permission to attend college courses off campus. He was able to work and earn money. In April , at the age of 21, Dominic was released from detention and placed on parole under the jurisdiction of the adult criminal court until the year Dominic is subject to sex offender registration and notification requirements. During the pre-release meeting, Dominic also had to sign a Collateral Contact Form, which required him to identify a contact to assist in monitoring his behavior. The form states that this person may be, for example, a roommate, employer, family member, spouse, significant other, pastor, sponsor, or friend.
Dominic specified his maternal grandmother, Grace. But Grace was told that she can never have Dominic in her home because his sister, the victim, resides there. In early January , Dominic tried to commit suicide. The parole officers demanded that she bring Dominic from the car into the office so that he could sign the papers. After a stressful few minutes, a parole officer came out and told Grace that she could take Dominic to the hospital. Laws that place youth offenders on sex offender registries expose them to vigilante attacks and are at odds with existing state laws that protect the confidentiality of juvenile records. Among the cases examined for this report, 52 percent youth offenders experienced violence or threats of violence against themselves or family members that they directly attributed to their registration.
Family photos of two boys at ages 10 and 8 now adults in their late twenties who were subject to sex offender registration for offenses committed at ages 12 and Individuals aware of their registration have thrown molotov cocktails through the window of the family home, as well as threatened, insulted, and shouted profanities at all members of the family. Weatherford, Texas, May 1, Other registrants experienced harassment as a result of their registration status. They thought I was not a virgin. I had to run inside. I wish I could kill you! Registration laws can have a severe impact on the families of registrants. Young people exiting custody in the juvenile justice system or adult prisons are often discharged back to families already struggling with domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health issues, unemployment, and poverty.
Children face unemployment, school enrollment challenges, and sometimes homelessness upon release. The impact may be more pronounced for families with children subject to sex offender registration requirements. Many registrants and family members told Human Rights Watch about the stresses placed on families as a result of registration. These include the following examples:. Families also suffer as a result of the public stigma associated with the registration status of their loved one. Parents of registrants reported experiencing increased financial burdens from the moment their child was placed on the registry.
Some family members of registrants lost their jobs as a result of the sex offender registration status of their family member. I lost my job when the school district found out that I had a young child on the registry. The fees associated with registration can be prohibitively high for a young person. These expenses often fall on the family, especially when the individual on the registry is a dependent child. Jackson D. I was too young to work.
He still lives with his mother. He struggles to keep jobs to help his mother prevent the house from going into foreclosure. The effects of registration can touch later generations of children as well. Many of the individuals we spoke with were placed on the registry as children but are now married with children of their own. Offender registration laws can have especially harmful impacts on the children of registrants. Additionally, 59 percent reported that other children at school treated them differently when it was discovered that they had a parent on the registry.
Most youth offender registrants with children we spoke with had very young children who had not yet attained school age. We were able, however, to interview a few school-age children with a parent on the registry. Hunter E. Mark O. A year-old child, Cindy D. In Delaware, where they live, a child under 14 years of age cannot legally give consent. We asked both non-registered and registered parents to describe ways that their children have been directly affected by sex offender registration laws. Individuals placed on the registry for offenses committed over a decade ago, when they were children, cannot even pick up their own children at school.
Jerry M. I want to be involved in their lives but I also want them to be able to live free to be who they are without having to carry such a burden. One girl with a father on the sex offender registry wrote Human Rights Watch a letter about her life as a child of a registered sex offender. Local lawmakers have passed municipal ordinances prohibiting individuals on sex offender registries from residing or traveling within close proximity to places where children commonly congregate. Given the large number of parks, schools, daycare centers, and playgrounds in some cities, there can be very few places where sex offenders can live. In one study, adult registrants cited difficulties in finding housing and being forced to move as the most common problems resulting from their registrant status.
Studies show that adolescents and young adults on sex offender registries have an even harder time securing housing than older adults on registries. Aaron I. They keep us homeless. I am banned from living in a homeless shelter. It is impossible to meet these expectations. Currently I am homeless … for something that happened when I was 12 years old. The majority of parents with a child on the registry interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported having trouble providing shelter for their family due to residency restrictions requiring the child registrant to live a certain distance from schools, parks, playgrounds, daycare centers, or bus stops.
And once they are living on their own, registrants face similar challenges in procuring housing. Public housing authorities can also evict the family of a child on the sex offender registry. The federal Office of Housing and Urban Development allows local housing authorities to terminate assistance to an entire family if any member of the household is arrested or adjudicated delinquent of certain sex offenses. Because state registration, notification, and residency restrictions often stipulate that offenders may not live in or near the homes of victims, housing issues can become extremely complicated when the victim of a youth offender registrant is a sibling. In these instances, parents are faced with a horrible choice between which of their children to keep in the home.
Some parents are forced to place a child with a relative or family friend, or to place a child in the care of the state. Lucas W. Lucas was given five years deferred adjudication for the sexual offense. Later, he and Emma married. But Lucas was subsequently arrested twice for violations of probation. In , Lucas was arrested for failure to register and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison. While incarcerated, his wife gave birth to their daughter. In , Lucas was finally released from prison to a halfway house where he was to remain until he could find proper housing. At the age of 14, Lewis A. Upon his release, Lewis was made a ward of the state and placed in foster care because his Dad said he could not manage him.
At the age of 18, he no longer qualified for foster care and was on his own. Upon release from foster care, Lewis contacted Isabella D. When Human Rights Watch first interviewed Lewis, he was just 18 years old and had spent nearly nine months homeless in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He survived the previous winter by living in an abandoned building. The voucher, through Michigan Rehabilitation Services, helped with the rent, but it took months to find an apartment that would 1 accept the voucher and 2 rent to a registered sex offender. As the voucher ran out they had to apply for an extension to get more time to look for housing.
Finally in August , Lewis moved into his own apartment. He also enrolled in an adult program and was working towards getting his GED. Lewis was supposed to spend Thanksgiving with Isabella and her family, but he decided to spend the weekend with his father. Immediately after the holiday, Lewis was arrested for vandalizing a cemetery with some older men. In December , Lewis pled guilty to the vandalism charge and has since served his time. But he still sits in jail.
As a registered sex offender, Lewis cannot be released from jail until he has a permanent address. Lewis cannot live in public assisted housing because he is a registered sex offender. Isabella has tried to help get Lewis shelter and made referrals to shelters and other agencies. She recently contacted agencies that assist individuals with mental disabilities and was told that all referrals must come from the community mental health center. The community mental health center will not consider making a referral until it can conduct intake, i. Isabella and the other teacher still visit Lewis every week in jail. Even though Michigan law does not subject juveniles adjudicated as young as Lewis to public notification, it is very difficult for him to live day-to-day.
Essentially, these restrictions ban registrants from passing through certain areas of the city. Interviewees reported having to map out routes before traveling anywhere. For example, Blake G. Blake was required to register as a sex offender in the new state. The county where Blake and his family moved to also had stringent residency and zoning restrictions. I can be arrested if I am walking anywhere near a school or park. There are also strict restrictions on the presence of registrants near bus stops.
Bus stops are plentiful and not well-defined. In rural areas, school bus stops are not marked or labeled and are often at the end of a driveway or any designated location where the school bus picks up a child. In Orange County, Florida, where the law prohibits a registered sex offender from residing within 2, feet of a school bus stop, day care center, park, or school, researchers mapped residential parcels of land and found that Because they live with their parents or other adult caregivers, children and very young adults have little control over where they live.
States differ as to which offenses trigger registration, and state systems do a very poor job of working together to ensure registrants who travel are treated fairly. For example, Elijah B. When he moved to Texas, he transferred his registration from Flint, Michigan to Houston. A few years later, Elijah met his wife. Both were working and they lived together in a new apartment. Elijah explained to Human Rights Watch,. However, all too often state registration systems treat individuals convicted of sexual offenses in other states differently from individuals convicted of the same offenses within the state. However, Alabama law would require a Florida resident who committed the same crime to register as a sex offender if he moves to Alabama.
Children can find their access to education curtailed even before they begin registering. Many children convicted of sexual offenses are expelled from public school. Crimes committed on school grounds can have immediate consequences in many states. For example, in Delaware, if police find probable cause to believe a child committed a crime at school, the student must be immediately suspended and referred to alternative services. Recidivism studies typically find that the older the prisoner when released, the lower the rate of recidivism.
In one study of clinically diagnosed pedophiles "who targeted young boys outside the home committed the greatest number of crimes with an average of Under polygraph, many apprehended sex offenders indicated that most of their offenses were not reported. In , an year-old boy, Jacob Wetterling , was abducted from a street in St. Joseph, Minnesota. His whereabouts remained unknown for nearly 27 years until remains were discovered just outside Paynesville, Minnesota in Jacob's mother, Patty Wetterling , current chair of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children , led a community effort to implement a sex offender registration requirement in Minnesota and, subsequently, nationally.
States had a certain time period to enact the legislation, along with guidelines established by the Attorney General. In an interview with reporter Madeleine Baran Wetterling stated, "No more victims, that's the goal. But we let our emotions run away from achieving that goal. You will not get a job you will not find housing. This is on your record forever, good luck. Jesse Timmenquas, who had been convicted of two previous sex crimes against children, lured Megan in his house and raped and killed her. Megan's mother, Maureen Kanka, started to lobby to change the laws, arguing that registration established by the Wetterling Act, was insufficient for community protection.
Maureen Kanka's goal was to mandate community notification, which under the Wetterling Act had been at the discretion of law enforcement. She said that if she had known that a sex offender lived across the street, Megan would still be alive. In , New Jersey enacted Megan's Law. The amendment required all states to implement Registration and Community Notification Laws by the end of Prior to Megan's death, only 5 states had laws requiring sex offenders to register their personal information with law enforcement. On August 5, Massachusetts was the last state to enact its version of Megan's Law. The most comprehensive legislation related to the supervision and management of sex offenders is the Adam Walsh Act AWA , named after Adam Walsh , who was kidnapped from a Florida shopping mall and killed in , when he was 6 years old.
The AWA was signed on the 25th anniversary of his abduction; efforts to establish a national registry was led by John Walsh , Adam's father. SORNA provides uniform minimum guidelines for registration of sex offenders, regardless of the state they live in. SORNA requires states to widen the number of covered offenses and to include certain classes of juvenile offenders. Prior to SORNA, states were granted latitude in the methods to differentiate offender management levels. Whereas many states had adopted to use structured risk assessment tools classification to distinguish "high risk" from "low risk" individuals, SORNA mandates such distinctions to be made solely on the basis of the governing offense.
Scholars have warned that classification system required under Adam Walsh Act is less sophisticated than risk-based approach previously adopted in certain states. Sex offenders must periodically report in person to their local law enforcement agency and furnish their address, and list of other information such as place of employment and email addresses. The offenders are photographed and fingerprinted by law enforcement, and in some cases DNA information is also collected. Registration period depends on the classification level and the law of the governing jurisdiction. States apply varied methods of classifying registrants.
Identical offenses committed in different states may produce different outcomes in terms of public disclosure and registration period. Sources of variation are diverse, but may be viewed over three dimensions — how classes of registrants are distinguished from one another, the criteria used in the classification process, and the processes applied in classification decisions. The first point of divergence is how states distinguish their registrants. At one end are the states operating single-tier systems that treat registrants equally with respect to reporting, registration duration, notification, and related factors.
Alternatively, some states use multi-tier systems, usually with two or three categories that are supposed to reflect presumed public safety risk and, in turn, required levels of attention from law enforcement and the public. Depending on state, registration and notification systems may have special provisions for juveniles, habitual offenders or those deemed " sexual predators " by virtue of certain standards. The second dimension is the criteria employed in the classification decision. States running offense-based systems use the conviction offense or the number of prior offenses as the criteria for tier assignment.
Other jurisdictions utilize various risk assessments that consider factors that scientific research has linked to sexual recidivism risk, such as age, number of prior sex offenses, victim gender, relationship to the victim, and indicators of psychopathy and deviant sexual arousal. Finally, some states use a hybrid of offense-based and risk-assessment-based systems for classification. For example, Colorado law requires minimum terms of registration based on the conviction offense for which the registrant was convicted or adjudicated but also uses a risk assessment for identifying sexually violent predators — a limited population deemed to be dangerous and subject to more extensive requirements.
Third, states distinguishing among registrants use differing systems and processes in establishing tier designations. In general, offense-based classification systems are used for their simplicity and uniformity. They allow classification decisions to be made via administrative or judicial processes. Risk-assessment-based systems, which employ actuarial risk assessment instruments and in some cases clinical assessments, require more of personnel involvement in the process. Some states, like Massachusetts and Colorado, utilize multidisciplinary review boards or judicial discretion to establish registrant tiers or sexual predator status. In some states, such as Kentucky, Florida, and Illinois, all sex offenders who move into the state and are required to register in their previous home states are required to register for life, regardless of their registration period in previous residence.
States apply differing sets of criteria to determine which registration information is available to the public. In a few states, a judge determines the risk level of the offender, or scientific risk assessment tools are used; information on low-risk offenders may be available to law enforcement only. In other states, all sex offenders are treated equally, and all registration information is available to the public on a state Internet site. Information of juvenile offenders are withheld for law enforcement but may be made public after their 18th birthday. Under federal SORNA , only tier I registrants may be excluded from public disclosure, with exemption of those convicted of "specified offense against a minor.
Disparities in state legislation have caused some registrants moving across state lines becoming subject to public disclosure and longer registration periods under the destination state's laws. Laws restricting where registered sex offenders may live or work have become increasingly common since In addition, hundreds of counties and municipalities have passed local ordinances exceeding the state requirements,   and some local communities have created exclusion zones around churches , pet stores , movie theaters , libraries , playgrounds , tourist attractions or other "recreational facilities" such as stadiums , airports , auditoriums , swimming pools , skating rinks and gymnasiums, regardless of whether publicly or privately owned. The report also found that laws preclude registrants from homeless shelters within restriction areas.
Restrictions may effectively cover entire cities, leaving small "pockets" of allowed places of residency. Evidence to support the effectiveness of public sex offender registries is limited and mixed. In fact, a number of negative unintended consequences have been empirically identified that may aggravate rather than mitigate offender risk. According to a study, the majority of the general public perceives sex offender recidivism to be very high and views offenders as a homogeneous group regarding that risk. Consequently, the study found that a majority of the public endorses broad community notification and related policies. Critics of the laws point to the lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of sex offender registration policies. They call the laws too harsh and unfair for adversely affecting the lives of registrants decades after completing their initial sentence , and for affecting their families as well.
Critics say that registries are overly broad as they reach to non-violent offenses, such as sexting or consensual teen sex, and fail to distinguish those who are not a danger to society from predatory offenders. Lanning argues that registration should be offender-based instead of offense-based: "A sex-offender registry that does not distinguish between the total pattern of behavior of a year-old man who violently raped a 6-year-old girl and an year-old boy who had 'compliant' sexual intercourse with his girlfriend a few weeks prior to her 16th birthday is misguided. The offense an offender is technically found or pleads guilty to may not truly reflect his dangerousness and risk level".
Some lawmakers recognize problems in the laws. However, they are reluctant to aim for reforms because of political opposition and being viewed as lessening the child safety laws. These perceived problems in legislation have prompted a growing grass-roots movement to reform sex offender laws in the United States. Sex offender registration and community notification laws have been challenged on a number of constitutional and other bases, generating substantial amount of case law.
Those challenging the statutes have claimed violations of ex post facto , due process , cruel and unusual punishment , equal protection and search and seizure. In , in Connecticut Dept. Doe the U. Supreme Court affirmed public disclosure of sex offender information and in , in Smith v. Doe , the Supreme Court upheld Alaska's registration statute, reasoning that sex offender registration is civil measure reasonably designed to protect public safety, not a punishment , which can be applied ex post facto. However, law scholars argue that even if the registration schemes were initially constitutional they have, in their current form, become unconstitutionally burdensome and unmoored from their constitutional grounds.
A study published in fall found that statistics cited by Justice Anthony Kennedy in two U. Supreme Court cases commonly cited in decisions upholding constitutionality of sex offender policies were unfounded. In September federal judge found that Colorado registry is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment as applied to three plaintiffs. Sex offender registration and community notification SORN laws carry costs in the form of collateral consequences for both sex offenders and their families, including difficulties in relationships and maintaining employment, public recognition, harassment, attacks, difficulties finding and maintaining suitable housing, as well as an inability to take part in expected parental duties, such as going to school functions.
Registration and notification laws affect not only sex offenders, but also their loved ones. Laws may force families to live apart from each other, because of family safety issues caused by neighbors, or because of residency restrictions. Family members often experience isolation, hopelessness and depression. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Many sex offenders in the US must register themselves on a public US government database. Doe Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Effectiveness of sex offender registration policies in the United States. Social issues. Reform activism. Movement to reform sex offender laws in the United States. This section may contain material unrelated or insufficiently related to its topic. Please help improve this section or discuss this issue on the talk page.
June Learn how and when to remove this template message. Main article: Jacob Wetterling Act. Main article: Megan's Law. See also: International Megan's Law. Main article: Effectiveness of sex offender registration policies in the United States. Main article: Constitutionality of sex offender registries in the United States. Law portal.Mangino: Supreme Court perpetuates sex offender myths". The Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study must Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study upon the notification within five business days of Youth In Crime. That's what I was afraid of. Oklahoma Francis Phelan In William Kennedys Ironweed a public health approach to sex Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study in the juvenile justice system that could serve as a model for other states considering alternative approaches to Women In Alexandria And Pompeii sex offender registration. Over 84 percent of the youth offenders we interviewed were still age 17 or younger at release. On August 5,he was found guilty of failure to register and sentenced to three years in Sex Offender Registration Act Case Study. Juvenile Male, S.