Even if we grant, for the moment, that the state has an interest in keeping track of people who have been convicted of sexual crimes, it does not need a registry to do so.
Law enforcement agencies have access to criminal background information on anybody, without the need for a fear-mongering, public-shaming website that allows people to find and harm or murder individuals on that site.
The people who are on the registry are very much like anyone else. They are parents and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters. Often, family members, including children, live at the same address that the state lists on the registry website.
If one of those people happens to be a collateral victim the next time someone with murderous intent goes to an address on the website, will the local news media observe, shallowly, that one can understand why that person had to die?
Nebraskans Unafraid has documented hundreds of errors on the public-shaming registry website. What happens when someone picks out one of those wrong addresses to target with murder?
Any program of police and criminal justice reform must include abolishing the registry. Nebraskans Unafraid opposes any type of registry, including the one that is being proposed for police officers who commit violent brutal acts. Why? Registries do not solve problems. They create problems. Research has shown that they do not help solve or prevent crime.
Law enforcement agencies across the nation have access to background information about police officers, without the need for another fear-mongering, public-shaming registry website.
If they are useless as public safety tools, what do registries do?
They score points for politicians who support them. That’s why we have them.
Registries also subvert every good thing a listed person tries to do to put his or her life back together. A job, a safe and secure home, and family connections are key components of successful re-entry into the community following a term of incarceration. Registries have the effect of taking all of those things away from former offenders who are trying to become productive citizens.
Registries take away lives.
Nebraska’s fear-mongering public-shaming sex offense website fails in ways almost too numerous to count. But we have categorized some of them. This blog will publish periodic reminders of those failures. Here is today’s reminder:
The Nebraska Legislature’s finding from the 1990s that all sex offenders are dangerous was not based on any scientific, empirical evidence. It was a politically-motivated “made up” finding that was based on popular myth. There is a vast and growing body of evidence that the reverse is actually true – that former sex offenders are among the least likely to reoffend. The Legislative Finding is made up in the same way that the oft-repeated “50,000 online predators” number was made up. This narrative shows how this round, easy-to-remember number (which is just a lie) was fabricated by the network that brought you “To Catch a Predator.”