The Case for Rethinking Placing People on Sex Offender Registries
Date:  07-08-2016

Most people on the registry will not commit another sex crime, or go back to prison when released
The following article by ChristopherZoukis originally appeared in the New York Daily News.

A high school prank nearly landed an Arizona teenager in deep trouble recently. On a teammate's dare, the 19-year-old football player exposed himself when the team photo was shot for the yearbook. No one, other than those in on the prank, was aware of what happened until the yearbook was published and circulated to students.

That's when law enforcement swooped in. The teen faced 69 counts of indecent exposure, one count for every student and staff member present when the photo was taken.

After a public backlash, cooler heads prevailed and the case was dropped when all 69 "victims" declined to press charges.

Clearly, this was a prime case of poor judgment on the part of the teenager. But it's also an example of how easily someone could be labeled a sex offender and potentially face a lifetime of ramifications that could affect where they live, where they can work and whether anyone would be willing to hire them at all.

Every state has a sex-offender registry. The federal government requires it and has since 1994, when the Jacob Wetterling Act was passed. The act was named for an 11-year-old Minnesota boy who was abducted in 1989 and never seen again.

But the registries, which are available to the public in many states, can be problematic and it may be time to re-examine whether they should continue, at least in the way they are currently handled. Read more