Earlier in the week, we brought you the story of a man who, in 1998, when he was 17 years old, had sex with a younger girl. Under the laws of his state (he was not in New Jersey), he was convicted of aggravated sexual abuse and ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. According to the man's mother, he has been treated much like a violent offender would be.
Although many of the people advocating for sex offeder registry reforms talk about the limited job opportunities and housing options available to individuals on the registry, some reformers also believe that reforms will improve public safety. Though it may seem contradictory, advocates argue that police will have to spend less time checking in on harmless previous offenders and can focus on crime prevention.
The young man's mother covered earlier in the week points to the fact that the number of sexual assaults on children has been falling for the past 20 years and that the most rapid fall happened before registries took effect. While the number of sex crimes continues to fall, it does not appear that it is because of sex offender registries.
One of the reasons she believes this is because 93 percent of children who are the victims of sexual crimes are abused by people they know, not by strangers. Even though 7 percent of children don't know their attackers, a majority of those attackers were not on the sex offender registry.
Though sex offender registries may have their place for the most serious of offenders, for many of the people on New Jersey's sex offender registry, registration may just be doing more harm than good.
Source: NBC News, "My Son, the Sex Offender: One Mother's Mission to Fight the Law," Tony Dokoupil, April 6, 2014