In the wake of a court defeat for Maryland’s registry, the Baltimore Sun takes a cool unbiased look at the issue.
Experts say there’s little evidence that the registries help keep the public safe, and can unfairly punish offenders. Some judges around the United States have agreed that the registries amount to unconstitutional punishment in some cases. In Maryland, a prominent defense lawyer is continuing to fight in the courts, seeking to get more names removed from a list that she says stigmatizes too many people.
But the lists are popular among legislators, who see them as an option to keep the public safe and give people a reassuring way of looking up who among their neighbors or colleagues has been convicted of sex offenses.
And here’s an excerpt from the Sun editorial on the issue:
. . . 95 percent of such (sex) crimes are committed by people who have no prior history of sex offenses and who do not appear on any public registry or list. Moreover, since most sex crimes, especially those committed against children, are carried out by people known to their victims, reliance on published lists to spot predators can easily mislead families into a false sense of security.