Online Registration of Sex Offenders Does Nothing to Protect the Public

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

You know what they did in earlier, more uncivilized times when they wanted to punish someone for committing a crime? The townspeople dragged the alleged offender into the street and doled out justice for the entire community to see. Public punishment. Equal parts humiliation and active deterrent for anyone else who might consider committing the same behavior. Despite what lawmakers might tell you, online posting of registered sex offenders performs the same function — a further layer of stigma on a population that doesn’t need the help. What’s worse? The information does nothing to protect the public.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

If you’d like to find out how many people where you live have manslaughter convictions or other violent crimes, you’ll need at least their Social Security numbers, photo IDs, and their permission to obtain everything else on that list. Otherwise, you’re committing identity theft. If you want to locate registered sex offenders in Utah, all you need is a reliable Internet connection and a working pair of eyes. Authorities make this information available under the guise of “protecting” the public, but what does the info really do? It engenders fear and perpetuates the stereotype that criminal behavior remains ongoing. A public registry makes the unspoken case that these men and women do not have criminal pasts, but criminal presents. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again, despite study upon study stating that recidivism among this population is among the lowest of all classifications.

A List Provides No Material Protection Whatsoever

Screaming, “you’re on a list!” when someone breaks into your home isn’t going to stop the burglar or intimidate them in the slightest. The words are flimsy armor. The same is true for public online sex offender registry. Protecting children from harm requires proactive parenting and vigilance, not an interactive map of homes and people to avoid. Other unintended consequences of this “public safety” initiative include driven-down property values to surrounding homes where offenders live and difficulty selling the residences due to the list itself. A registrant could have a nine-year-old conviction for a trumped up charge that still plagues them every day because of the harm their presence on the list does to their surrounding community. The message is a clear one: get out.

Rounding Up the Usual Suspects

You’ve seen it — a child goes missing and the first thing authorities do is interview all registered sex offenders in a given area to see if they did it. That’s highly suspect police work, but techniques that are commonly given the misconceptions about this population. The list encourages them to ignore facts and harass the innocent. That does not help anxious families recover their lost children or assist in the healing process. All it does is label and humiliate.

If you, or someone in your family, is facing a sex crimes charge, your case demands the attention of an aggressive Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer. It’s too late to have the right team on your side once the jury sits down. Make the right choice — call our law office today for a consultation with our lawyers today – (801)-895-3143. We take calls day and night as well as in emergencies and jailhouse situations.


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