Many question the effectiveness of sex offender registries

Many studies indicate that sex offender registries do not prevent people from reoffending and do not make people safer.

In light of a July 2014 Maryland appellate court decision saying that it was a violation of the state’s constitution to require those convicted of sex offense charges for events that occurred before the state created the registry in October 1995 to register as sex offenders, many have been questioning whether sex offender registries are an effective way to protect public safety. Others have noted that requiring people to register as sex offenders can have disastrous consequences for people.

“Public shaming” ineffective for prevention

The number of registered sex offenders in the U.S. keeps growing. According to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, there were over 674,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. In Maryland alone there are more than 8,000 names on the state’s sex offender registry. Studies have shown that many sex offender registry laws are not protecting the public in the manner they were intended to do.

A University of Chicago Study revealed that the sex crime rates in states did not fall after they introduced registry laws. The study also looked at 9,000 people convicted of sex offenses released from prison in one year and found that those released into states with public notification laws were more likely to reoffend. Finally, the study looked at census data and found that people who lived on the same block as registered sex offenders were not more likely to be victims of sex crimes. University of Michigan researchers also found that those convicted of sex offenses were more likely to reoffend in states with public notification laws.

Ruining people’s lives

Researchers suspect that public notification laws actually encourage people to reoffend because they make it difficult for people to live a crime-free life. Those on sex offender registries often report harassment from neighbors and difficulties finding housing and jobs.

The Economist reported that a study found that 65 percent of all those on sex offender registries were convicted of “non-threatening” offenses, such as consensual sex between teenagers or public urination. However, these people still suffered all of the negative effects that go with having to register as a sex offender.

Consult an attorney

Being convicted of a sex offense can lead to severe penalties – including having to register as a sex offender. Having the assistance of an experienced attorney can help reduce the risk that you will suffer the most extreme penalties the law allows. If you are facing charges for a sex offense, talk to a skilled attorney with a history of successfully defending people from such charges to help protect your rights.

Keywords: sex offense; sex crimes; sex offender registry