The Wyoming Justice Project supports a massive rethinking of sex offender registries and their restrictions. There should be a assessment done to determine if the person is actually a risk to society. If they are a risk and put on the registry, the information should only be available to law enforcement. If an offender is such a huge risk to society, they should serve long prison terms followed by community supervision. Status offenders should not be placed on registries.
Simply put, sex offender registries do not work. They are based on fear and misinformation and not data or studies. They don’t reduce sex crimes. They do not make children safer. What they do is make it incredibly difficult for sex offenders to reintegrate into society by severely limiting housing option and employment opportunities. There is even evidence that sex offender registries cause more crime.
In acts of sex abuse against juvenile victims, 93% of these victims knew who assaulted them. Only 7% of these crimes were committed by strangers.
A major study has indicated that 12.4% of individuals who commit sexual assaults against children will re-offend. This is in stark contrast to studies that show incredibly high recidivism rates for state prisoners. One study shows 68% of those released from prison are arrested again within three years. There is a misnomer that sex offenders have high rates of recidivism. However, the facts reveal that claim to be absolutely false.
Another study has shown that only one half on one percent of sex crimes against children occur in public places such as parks. Less then a quarter of sex offenders meet their victims in these locations. The vast majority of crimes occurs in private residences.
Therefore, restrictions that don’t allow sex offenders to reside near school are park are nonsense. Sex offenders should not be forced into homelessness because they cannot find adequate housing outside of exclusionary areas.
Support is building towards rethinking the policy of sex offender registries. Citizens are wising up to their ineffectiveness and courts all over the nation have begun striking these laws down.
There is a critical case currently being heard buy the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado. It’s outcome will impact the entire 10th Judicial District which includes Wyoming.
In August of 2017, former US. District Court Judge Richard Matsch struck down Colorado’s sex offender registry because it was deemed to be cruel and unusual punishment. The case may eventually make it all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While making people feel good, sex offender registries do very little to keep communities safer. They are overly harsh, prevent offenders from leading productive lives and are unconstitutional.