Responding to Voter Questions: Sex Offender Registries

A voted stated:

I am interested to know where you stand on the issue of “sex offender registry”? I am very much against the public registry and wish that our society can start caring and rehabilitating our wounded souls- not just victims of crimes but also the perpetrators of the crime. These citizens deserve a life after spending time in prison and paying back for what they have done. Statistically, their re-offend rate is very low so let’s help them re-integrate into society with job, housing and rehabilitative help. Thank you so much for listening and I hope to receive a reply from you.

My Response:

Thank you for submitting your question regarding sex offender registries. I didn't know much about the subject and did some preliminary research to provide the answer below. Please let me know if I got any of my facts wrong or there is more for me to consider.

The basis for my answer is my long-held belief that our approach to crime in America needs to focus more on treatment and less on punishment. I believe that individuals who harm themselves or others should be treated and possibly incarcerated until they no longer pose a threat.

It seems disingenuous for the state to release a person from prison after serving their time and yet still persecute them by showing their name, face, address, and other personal details on a map for all to see. If the state really believes they still pose a threat to society, then we should continue to keep them locked up while providing treatment.

Sex Offender Registries have been enacted in the name of public safety out of fear for children being harmed. It is understandable for society to want to protect children, but these registries don't seem to stop repeat offenders. They seem to just cause more pain and suffering for all those involved.

I want to see the Supreme Court take up this issue on the grounds that the Sex Offender Registries are a violation of the 8th amendment. Most judges do not incarcerate sex crime offenders for life. However, that is the real result of forcing lifelong registration. Therefore, this seems like a cruel and unusual punishment.

As a first step, I would like to see the registry reduced to repeat/serial offenders. At least then, a valid argument could be made for public safety. However, I would prefer a more permanent solution involving rehabilitation and the ability to never be placed on the list or subsequently removed off the list.