The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Will the real sex offenders please stand up?

Illustration by Ryan Inamine

Labeling a friendly pitbull a killer can be just as senseless as feeling protected by the registries system from sex offenders, because statistically speaking the real threat lies closer to home. These registries also include a myriad of ‘criminals’ whose offenses include streaking and sexting.They should be labeled differently and included in a different registry.

“The creation of a pariah class of unemployable, uprooted criminal outcasts has drawn attention from human rights activists; even The Economist has decried our sex offender laws as harsh and ineffective,” wrote New York Times reporter Roger N. Lancaster in an Aug. 2011 article, “Sex Offenders: The Last Pariahs.”

Just like the pitbull stigma and fear of their locked jaws, the fear stigma follows a sex offender.

Online forums with comments from desperate mothers and academic journals in databases like LexisNexis claim that sex offender registries are ineffective for public safety and infringe on basic human rights.

Enacted in 1996, Megan’s Law is designed to punish sex offenders and to keep tabs on their whereabouts for the public’s safety according to the Office of the Attorney General’s webpage. However, it has proven ineffective in many studies.

The California Department of Justice’s webpage states that 80 percent of sex offender cases include somebody the victim is familiar with such as an aunt or uncle, grandparent and/or stepparent.
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“Stranger danger is a naive way to look at registered sex offenders. It’s better to educate parents on the patterns of sex offenders to gain access to children. It’s more likely someone they know and trust,” said Jill S. Levenson, associate professor at Lynn University in Florida, quoted by reporter Bill Reed of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The sex offender registration system that is in place is designed for the public’s safety and should be as accurate as possible, yet peeping toms, streakers and minors involved in sexting are all offenses lumped in the category.

Although registered sex offenders have been required to register with local law enforcement since 1947, according to the state of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General’s website, a recent amended bill in 2004, AB 488, has made California’s information about offenders public via the web.

The interactive webpage searching the city of Sacramento shows a list of 1,693 registered offenders with a large amount of very personal information available on the web.

The websites publishes way too much personal information about offenders that should not be available so freely.

The convicted individuals must pay fines, are subject to random search, and by appearing on the registry, have limited housing and employment opportunities because of the stigma. The sex offender registries need to be altered to include separate categories for the myriad of offenses.

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