Nebraska Story #4: Ray

Nebraska Legislature ignores evidence.

  • Psychologists, the Nebraska State Patrol, and the court said his risk of re-offending was low.
  • The Legislature changed his registry term, ignoring those risk assessments.
  • Stop pretending that the registry makes sense.

This is a series of Nebraska stories about life on the registry. All names have been changed, even when the registrant said we could use his or her name. But the laws that cause so much grief are very real.

The Nebraska registry used to evaluate each registrant to determine the level of risk they presented to the community.

Psychologists determined Ray’s risk level to be low; the Nebraska State Patrol agreed. In 2009, Nebraska passed LB 285 and, in 2010, ignored the results of any individual risk assessments.

The Legislature placed registrants in levels according to the crime he or she committed. Level 1 meant 15 years on the registry, Level 2 meant 25 years, and Level 3 meant lifetime. Ray’s crime now fell in the lifetime category, even though five uneventful and law-abiding years had passed since he finished his probation. No matter what his individual risk was, no matter what professionals thought of his risk level, Ray—along with many others—remains on the registry all these years later. 

It is true that registrants present varying risk levels. It is also true that people not on the registry present varying risk levels. After all, most arrests—by far—for sex offenses are of someone not on the registry. We accept those varying risk levels without much thought, yet the Legislature treats registrants as if they are ticking time bombs, even when all evidence says they will, in all likelihood, not reoffend.

It is time Nebraska stops pretending that the registry makes sense.

Download The Perfect Bad Law

Published by nufearless

Nebraskans Unafraid is committed to making our communities safer by ensuring that lawmakers and policymakers do not support laws that cause homelessness, joblessness and damage to families.

%d bloggers like this: