08 April 2015

Megan's Law and The Sex Offender Registry (is a seriously flawed system)

Any sexual contact with a minor is automatically classified as "abuse"

23% of "child sexual abuse" is "perpetrated" by another minor.
Of those, 80% were NOT "forcible" rape.  In other words, it is considered "rape" only because the "victim" is a minor.
In other words, any two children exploring their bodies, playing doctor, or "I'll show you mine if you show me yours", even if everything was entirely consensual, and both were the same age, for purposes of crime statistics, both children "abused" each other, and they are legally both sex offenders. If caught, they can end up on the list.  Sometimes for life.
"Teenagers and even young children who engage in certain sex-based conduct may find themselves subject to sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws. Some children are on registries because they committed serious sex offenses, such as forcibly raping a much younger child. Other children are labeled sex offenders for such non-coercive or nonviolent and age-appropriate activities as "playing doctor," youthful pranks such as exposing one's buttocks, and non-coercive teen sex." http://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/us0907/7.htm

The registry also currently includes "Internet crimes", in which there is not even a possibility of any physical contact.  All any "victim" would have to do, if they felt uncomfortable, is log off.

Which means that when ever you see some seemingly scary high number of how many children are "victims" of "childhood sexual abuse", that number is ridiculously inflated with things which aren't actually abuse, to the point where the numbers are meaningless.  This is similar to the recent redefinition of "rape" to include any sexual activity that takes place after entirely voluntary self-intoxication.  Have you ever had one too many glasses of wine with dinner, or stayed at the bar just a little too long before going home, and then had completely consensual sex with your partner?  Nope! Because according to the law in most states, the fact that you were intoxicated automatically makes it non-consensual.  You were actually raped, and your partner is a rapist.  Which, incidentally, means your partner, too, "deserves" to be on the registry.

55% of all Americans have sex by age 17.  Legally that means that more than half of all Americans, male and female, were "raped".  23% have sex (consensual) by age 14. When various crime statistics come out, almost never do they make a distinction between "forcible" and "statutory" rape.  They are treated as interchangeable.

But if we can acknowledge that a 17-year-and -364-day-old having consensual sex with their 18-year-and-one-day-old partner was not really raped, then failing to separate real rape from "statutory" (not to mention "intoxicated consent") means all of the statistics are meaningless.
No wonder they seem so frighteningly high, and so hard to believe!  They are hard to believe because they aren't really true.

28 States require registration as a sex offender for a 17 year old male being caught having sex with their 17 year old girlfriend.  (As written, of course, both male and female would have committed statutory rape, and both should register, but in practice males are almost universally considered perpetrators, females universally victims - though there are occasional exceptions, particularly if the female is the older of the two:
"in Georgia, a 26-year-old married woman was made to register as a sex offender for life and had to move from her home because it falls within an area in which sex offenders are prohibited from living, because as a teenager she had oral sex with a willing fellow high school student when she was 17 and he was 15"

This would be bad enough, but a large percentage of those on the registry were not convicted of any sex act at all!

"A Colorado man is on that state's registry because of his conviction for a bout of drunken nudity in his own backyard in 2002. (See Absurdity Breakout: Laws end up targeting not-so-dangerous 'sex offenders', GateHouse News Service, August 20, 2007.)
A Pennsylvania man is on his state's registry for "streaking." (See State Registration Laws in No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the US by Sarah Tofte with research by Corinne Carey, Human Rights Watch, September 12, 2007.)
Juan Matamoros pleaded guilty to public urination in Massachusetts in 1986. Because of that, 21 years later, he must move from the Florida home his family lives in because it is too close to a city park. (See Sex offender ordinance catches family in legal tangle, News-Journal (Daytona Beach, Florida), March 2007.)
A Chicago construction worker who relieved himself behind a garbage can in an alley was spotted by a police officer, arrested, and convicted of public urination and indecent exposure. As a Mexican immigrant, he was later rounded up for deportation by Homeland Security's "Operation Predator." (See Immigrant sex offenders targeted (2°), Chicago Tribune, February 24, 2005.)
Nancy Phipps was convicted of flashing a detective and will be on Oklahoma's registry for that until 2012. In 2007, she moved into a homeless shelter with her 16-year-old daughter because residency restrictions barred her from 90 percent of the city they live in. (See Absurdity Breakout: Laws end up targeting not-so-dangerous 'sex offenders', GateHouse News Service, August 20, 2007.)
In 1973, the California Supreme Court allowed James Birch to retract his plea of guilty to public urination because he did not know when he entered it the year before that it would make him subject to lifelong registration as a sex offender. (See case 10 Cal. 3d 314.)"

Depending on what state you live in, you may need to permenantly register as a sex offender:
"    • If you allow your teenager to have sex.
     • If you discipline an unruly child.
     • If you kiss your naked baby.
     • If you breastfeed your baby.
     • If you take pictures of your children naked.
     • If you're a teenager taking naked pictures of yourself or your sweetheart.
     • If you win custody in a nasty divorce.
     • If you get caught taking a pee.
     • If you have consensual sex in prison.
     • If you kiss a student on the cheek.
     • If you take pictures of children in public.
     • If you look at children in public.
     • If you have consensual sex with a teenager."

"You might be a sex offender if… you ever paid for a prostitute in New York [1] (unless, of course, your name is New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer [2])
You might be a sex offender if… you use a stolen credit card to hire a stripper in New York [3]
You might be a sex offender if... You are a prostitute in Louisiana [4] (though only if you engage in oral or anal sex)
You might be a sex offender if… You had sex with a teenager while you were a teen yourself [5], unless your daddy's name is Mark Lunsford [6]
You might be a sex offender if… you ever got drunk at a party and videotaped yourself having sex with your teenage girlfriend [7]
You might be a sex offender if… you have ever given your kids too much information when giving "the birds and the bees" speech [8]
You might be a sex offender if… a topless woman has ever talked you into "unwrapping your whopper" in a public park [9]
You might be a sex offender if… anyone has ever accused you of a sex crime in Ohio -- thanks to a "civil" registry, you don't even need a criminal conviction, only a civil conviction, like O.J. [10]
You might be a sex offender if… you ever participated in "slap butt day" in school [11]
You might be a sex offender if… you allow your teenage daughter to have sex or don't do enough to stop her from getting knocked up [12]
You might be a sex offender if… you touched the knees of another man over 60 years ago [13]
You might be a sex offender if… you have ever taken a picture of your child playing in the bathtub, or if you have bathed a baby in your tub [14]
You might be a sex offender if… you've ever simulated sex on the sidewalk [15]
You might be a sex offender if… you had sex with a picnic table [16] (note: why was the person who videotaped this person NOT charged with creating obscene material? Hm...)
You might be a sex offender if… you are a teen and you take pictures of yourself and send it to other teens [17]
You might be a sex offender if... you have oral sex with an intoxicated partner [18]
You might be sex offender if... you look at a child too long in Maine [19]
You might be a sex offender if... you are caught urinating in public [20]
You might be a sex offender if... you grab the arm of a 14 year old girl to chastise her for stepping in front of your moving car [21]
You might be a sex offender if... you flirt with a girl in Egypt [22]
You might be a sex offender if... you had sex with a bicycle, bringing new meaning to the brand name "HUFFY" [23]
You might be a sex offender if... you are a school teacher at a school that forgot to pay for anti-virus software [24] (ironically enough, she'd have faced less time for sleeping with one of her students)
You might be a sex offender if... the local police screw up your arrest records! [25]"

Clearly this has nothing what so ever to do with "protecting children".

Essentially, the entire idea of a "registry" uses the imaginary threat of "harm to children" as the new front for the centuries old war on all aspects of "deviant sexuality" - where "deviant" means anything other than heterosexual intercourse by a married couple in their bedroom... you know, as "God intended".  Until the supreme court struck down anti-sodomy laws, having consensual oral sex with a spouse could get you on the sex offender registry - and some who were convicted before that change are still be on it now

Of course, occasionally, an actual adult who had non-consensual sex with a prepubescent child - the supposed reason the list was ever made public to begin with - ends up on the list too.

Of them, though, only 7% of child sexual abuse is by adults who are strangers to the child.

The other 93% is by relatives, family friends, babysitters, or childcare workers

70% of abusers are immediate family members or someone very close to the family (i.e. step parents)
Of those the single most common is father-daughter, (followed either by mother-child or sibling incest; studies differ)

This fact alone makes the entire idea behind a public registry completly pointless.  Child abuse is almost never done by "the creepy guy who moved in up the street".  It's done by fathers, brothers and uncles.  The people you trust.

In other words, statistically your child is likely to be safer from sex if you leave them with the single adult male stranger who lives down the street than if you leave them unattended with their other parent.
Obviously you personally think that you personally are an exception, and your spouse would never do something like that - but then again, thats what most of the other 93% of parents whose kids had sexual contact with someone thought too.

This is like fearing witches, communists, terrorists, or cops, while not thinking twice about driving 75MPH in a car every day or failing to get enough exercise, smoking, drinking, or eating hamburgers.  Its always easy to be afraid of "other" people - especially when everyone around you is afraid of the same people - but the risk is always approximately 0%, while real threats go ignored.

That most "child molesters" are actually parents, and not priests or "creepy" guys who live alone also brings up the notable related issue that the majority of adults who have sexual contact with children are NOT pedophiles.
"The term pedophilia refers to persistent sexual feelings of attraction in an adult or older adolescent toward prepubescent children, whether the attraction is acted upon or not."
Most people who have sexual contact with children have normal sexual attractions to adults.  The illegal sex act was committed not because of a sexual orientation or fetish for pre-teens, but simply because they had access to a child at the time.  The classic stereotype of a guy in a van hanging out at schools is 99% urban legend.  Because we humans always want to validate our imaginary fears, the extremely rare times that something like that really does happen, it makes headlines nationwide and stays on the front page and on primetime news for the next month or three; ensuring the memory gets seared deeply into everyone's heads, which helps discourage anyone from questioning the idea of a registry.  After all, that would be supporting child molesters!  That would be siding with "evil"!  And so, with "child molesters" as the new witches/communists/terrorists, the extreme religious conservatives quietly manipulate the law to take away the sexual freedoms which were never the government's business to begin with, but were very hard and slowly won.

According to the  The Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board, only 5% of their regsitry are people who are "clearly dangerous", and only about 100 (out of 17,000 - 0.5%) are classified as "predators"

So what about those (very) few people on the list who actually did something wrong?
Doesn't it make sense for us to know where they are, so we can protect ourselves?
Maybe all we need to do is "reform" the list, and tighten the circumstances that get one put on it.

87% of convicted sex offenders never commit another offense (13% recidivism rate)
"It is noteworthy that recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population." [emphasis mine]

96% of people convicted as children never commit another "offense".

All of which undermines there being any point to public disclosure of the list - or of even keeping one in the first place.  The myth is that, unlike when committing an ordinary crime, which may just be an instance of "making a mistake" and doesn't not necessarily make you permanently a "criminal", a "sex offender" is something a person either is or is not.  It is (supposedly) a part of one's basic personality, it is "who they are" - and so obviously sooner or later they will act again.
The reality is the exact opposite: sex offenders are less likely to commit another crime than other criminals are to repeat their own offenses.

If anything, it would make far more sense to have a registry of violent crimes, or of people convicted of DUI.
In comparison to sex offenders 13% rate of committing the same crime they were convicted of, the rate for DUI is approximately 30% (ranging from 25 to 50), and a whopping  71.3 percent of violent offenders are rearrested within 5 years.

(Centers for Disease Control. “Vital Signs: Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults — United States, 2010.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. October 4, 2011.)

The DUI question is particularly interesting, simply because it was the example brought up when I recently discussed this topic in real life: the person supporting the Sex Offender Registry specifically said there was no reason to care if a neighbor had been convicted of a DUI.

"IN 2013, 10,076 PEOPLE DIED IN DRUNK DRIVING CRASHES - ONE EVERY 52 MINUTES - AND 290,000 WERE INJURED IN DRUNK DRIVING CRASHES."National Highway Traffic Safety Administration FARS data, 2014. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812102.pdf.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, May 2014, DOT HS 812 013. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812013.pdf.

Number of children age 2 – 14 killed in car accidents, as passengers: 1300
Number of Children age 2-14 injured in car accidents, as passengers: 37,415*
Number of children abducted and killed in “stereotypical kidnappings” (kidnapped by a stranger for ransom or for sexual purposes and/or transported away) in 1999, the most recent year for which we have statistics: ~50                         http://www.freerangekids.com/crime-statistics/ 
*(est. based on injury rates listed by NHTSA and death rates above)
That means there is a 26 times greater chance that the neighbor with a DUI is going to kill your child than the neighbor on the Registry.
But wait... that number is conservative!  It doesn't count children killed as pedestrians or cyclists, nor does it count any children younger than 2 or older than 14.
Given that 23% of the population is under 18, it is a fair guess that in total, approximately 2300 children are killed annually by drunk drivers.  That makes the guy with a DUI 46 times more likely to kill your child than a "child molester".

Of course, being abused can be traumatic even if it does not result in death.
Then again, losing your legs by being run over by a car can be traumatic and has lifelong implications even if it isn't fatal as well.

Compared to approximately 11,550 cases of sexual contact with children by adult strangers each year, about 66,700 children are injured by drunk drivers.

All in all, its hard to see any justification for the registry existing at all - certainly no more or less than for any other crime - and certainly none for it being made public.  It would be far more helpful (if the true goal were protecting children) to publish lists of those convicted of DUI, so parents would know if one was in the neighborhood and ensure their kids never play ball in the street or ride bikes or cross without an adult present.  Since the risk ranges from 6 to 46 times as great, one can only assume that the real reason for the list never had anything to do with making the public safe - its merely a clever way to bring back the old social control method of public shaming to anyone the powers that be designate as "sexually deviant" - which, if they had their way, would mean not only any sex acts, but also even any desire for anything related to sexuality outside of a government and religious sanctioned heterosexual marriage; with a penis in a vagina, and with no birth control, (of course!).  By making it about "protecting children", they suddenly got the rest of the public on board.

Even the administrators of the list itself are against it:
"The California Sex Offender Management Board, which includes a district attorney, police officers, and corrections officials, went even further earlier this year, saying that "the registry has, in some ways, become counterproductive to improving public safety.""
And in case that wasn't enough, here's a little more on the harm the system does to innocent people:



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