There is no evidence that prohibiting sex offenders from living near where children gather will protect children from sexual violence. Indeed, the limited research to date suggests the contrary: a child molester who does offend again is as likely to victimize a child found far from his home as he is one who lives or plays nearby. A study by the minnesota department of Corrections found that individuals who committed another sex crime against a child made contact with their victim through a social relationship. Moreover, the laws apply to all registered sex offenders regardless of whether their prior crimes involved children. It is hard to fathom what good comes from prohibiting a registered offender whose victim was an adult woman from living near a school bus stop. Stories of the senseless impact of residency restrictions are legion. For example, georgia's residency restriction law has forced a 26-year-old married woman to move from her home because it is too close to a daycare center.
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Former offenders included on online sex offender registries endure shattered privacy, social ostracism, diminished employment and homework housing opportunities, harassment, and even vigilante violence. Their families suffer as well. Registrants and their families have been hounded from their homes, had rocks thrown through their home windows, and feces left on their front doorsteps. They have been assaulted, stabbed, and had their homes burned by neighbors or strangers who discovered their status as a previously convicted sex offender. At least four registrants have been targeted and killed (two in 2006 and two in 2005) by strangers who found their names and addresses through online registries. Other registrants have been driven to suicide, including a teenager who was required to register after he had exposed himself to girls on their way to gym class. Violence directed at registrants has injured others. The children of sex offenders have been harassed by their peers at school, and wives friend and girlfriends of offenders have been ostracized from social networks and at their jobs. Residency restrictions Among laws targeting sex offenders living in the community, residency restrictions may be the harshest as well as the most arbitrary. The laws can banish registrants from their already established homes, keep them from living with their families, and make entire towns off-limits to them, forcing them to live in isolated rural areas. For example, former sex offenders in miami, florida have been living under bridges, one of the few areas not restricted for them by the residency restriction laws of that city.
With a national registry including every state registrant's online profile due to brief be complete by 2009, information about previously convicted sex offenders will be available to anyone anywhere in the country, without restriction. Most registries simply indicate the statutory name of the crime of which a person was convicted, for example, "indecent liberties with a child." Such language does not provide useful information about what the offending conduct actually consisted of, and the public may understandably assume the. Described for Human Rights Watch the public response to his inclusion on his state's online registry: When people see my picture on the state sex offender registry they assume i am a pedophile. I have been called a baby rapist by my neighbors; feces have been left on my driveway; a stone with a note wrapped around it telling me to "watch my back" was thrown through my window, almost hitting a guest. What the registry doesn't tell people is that I was convicted at age 17 of sex with my 14-year-old girlfriend, that I have been offense-free for over a decade, that I have completed my therapy, and that the judge and my probation officer didn't even. My life is in ruins, not because i had sex as a teenager, and not because i was convicted, but because of how my neighbors have reacted to the information on the internet. 4 Public Hostility to registrants Jameel.'s experience of public hostility is all too typical.
He will be on the registry and publicly branded as a sex offender for the rest of his life. In his mother's words, "I break down in tears several times a week. I know there are violent sexual predators that need to be punished, but this seems like punishment far beyond reasonable for what my son did." 3 The over-breadth in scope is matched by over-breadth in duration: the length of time during which a former garden offender. Indeed, legislators are steadily increasing the duration of registration requirements: in 17 states, registration is now for life. Yet former sex offenders are less and less likely to reoffend the longer they live offense-free. Unfortunately, only a few states require or permit periodic individualized assessments of the risk to the community a former offender may pose before requiring initial or continued registration and community notification. Unrestricted Access to registry Information If former offenders simply had to register their whereabouts with the police, the adverse consequences for them would be minimal. But online sex offender registries brand everyone listed on them with a very public "scarlet letter" that signifies not just that they committed a sex offense in the past, but that by virtue of that fact they remain dangerous. With only a few exceptions, states do not impose any "need to know" limitations on who has access to the registrant's information.
It has made me rethink the value of broad-based community notification laws, which operate on the assumption that most sex offenders are high-risk dangers to the community they are released into. Over-breadth of the registration Requirement The justifications offered for sex offender laws focus on sexually violent offenders. Yet people who have not committed violent or coercive offenses may nonetheless be required to register as sex offenders and be subject to community notification and residency restrictions. For example, in many states, people who urinate in public, teenagers who have consensual sex with each other, adults who sell sex to other adults, and kids who expose themselves as a prank are required to register as sex offenders. Brandon.'s case is an example. Brandon was a senior in high school when he met a 14-year-old girl on a church youth trip. With her parents' blessing, they began to date, and openly saw each other romantically for almost a year. When it was disclosed that consensual sexual contact had occurred, her parents pressed charges against Brandon and he was convicted of sexual assault and placed on the sex offender registry in his state. As a result, Brandon was fired from his job.
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Publicly accessible online registries should be eliminated, and community notification should be accomplished solely by law enforcement officials. Blanket residency restrictions should be abolished. Public Safety and Mistaken Premises Proponents of sex offender registration and community notification believe they protect children in two ways: police have a list of likely suspects should a sex crime occur in the neighborhood in which a registered offender lives, and parents have information. Advocates for residency restrictions believe they will limit offenders' access to children and their temptation or ability to commit new crimes. While these beliefs may seem intuitively correct, they are predicated on several widely shared but nonetheless mistaken premises. Given these faulty underpinnings, it is not surprising that there is little evidence that the laws have in fact reduced the threat of sexual abuse to children or others. Sex offender laws are based on preventing the horrific crimes that inspired them-but the abduction, rape, and murder of a child by a stranger who is a previously convicted sex offender is a rare event.
The laws offer scant protection for children from the serious risk of sexual abuse that they face from family members or acquaintances. Indeed, people children know and trust are responsible for over 90 percent of sex crimes against them. In addition, sex offender laws are predicated on the widespread assumption that most people convicted of sex offenses will continue to commit such crimes if given the opportunity. Some politicians cite recidivism rates for sex offenders that are as high as 80-90 percent. In fact, most (three out of four) former sex offenders do not reoffend and most sex crimes are not committed by former offenders. Patty wetterling, a prominent child safety advocate who founded the jacob Wetterling foundation after her son was abducted in 1989, recently told Human symbiosis Rights Watch, i based my support of broad-based community notification laws on my assumption that sex offenders have the highest recidivism rates. But the high recidivism rates i assumed to be true do not exist.
Federal law and the laws of all 50 states now require adults and some juveniles convicted of specified crimes that involve sexual conduct to register with law enforcement-regardless of whether the crimes involved children. So-called "Megan's Laws" establish public access to registry information, primarily by mandating the creation of online registries that provide a former offender's criminal history, current photograph, current address, and other information such as place of employment. In many states everyone who is required to register is included on the online registry. A growing number of states and municipalities have also prohibited registered offenders from living within a designated distance (typically 500 to 2,500 feet) of places where children gather-for example, schools, playgrounds, and daycare centers. Human Rights Watch appreciates the sense of concern and urgency that has prompted these laws.
They reflect a deep public yearning for safety in a world that seems increasingly threatening. Every child has the right to live free from violence and sexual abuse. Promoting public safety by holding offenders accountable and by instituting effective crime prevention measures is a core governmental obligation. Unfortunately, our research reveals that sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws are ill-considered, poorly crafted, and may cause more harm than good: The registration laws are overbroad in scope and overlong in duration, requiring people to register who pose no safety risk;. Harassment of and violence against registrants have been the predictable result; In many cases, residency restrictions have the effect of banishing registrants from entire urban areas and forcing them to live far from their homes and families. The evidence is overwhelming, as detailed in this report, that these laws cause great harm to the people subject to them. On the other hand, proponents of these laws are not able to point to convincing evidence of public safety gains from them. Even assuming some public safety benefit, however, the laws can be reformed to reduce their adverse effects without compromising that benefit. Registration laws should be narrowed in scope and duration.
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Wetterling also reviewed the report. Human Rights Watch would also like to thank. Lewis, the Open Society Institute, and the john Merck foundation, all of whom generously support the work of the us program. Mmary, the reality is that resumes sex offenders are a great political target, but that doesn't mean any law under the sun is appropriate. Illinois State representative john Fritchey 1, people want a silver bullet that will protect their children, but there is no silver bullet. There is no simple cure to the very complex problem of sexual violence. patty wetterling, child safety advocate whose son was abducted in 1989 and remains missing 2, what happened to nine-year-old Jessica lunsford is every parent's worst february 2005 she was abducted from her home in Florida, raped, and buried alive by a stranger, a next-door neighbor. Over the past decade, several horrific crimes like jessica's murder have captured massive biography media attention and fueled widespread fears that children are at high risk of assault by repeat sex offenders. Politicians have responded with a series of laws, including the sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws that are the subject of this report.
Janet Walsh, acting director of the women's Rights division, reviewed the report. Ian Gorvin, deputy director of the Program Office, and Aisling reidy, senior legal counsel, edited the report. Ashoka mukpo, grace Choi, and Andrea holley provided invaluable production assistance. We want to acknowledge our special gratitude to patty wetterling, Alisa Klein, jim Rensel, nancy daley,. Robert Prentky, and. Levenson for providing guidance and insights in helping us to shape the research and writing of this report.
Corinne carey, former researcher for the. Program, book undertook the original research for this report. The report was written by sarah Tofte with the assistance of Jamie fellner, director of the. Program, who also edited the report. Patrick vinck, director of the. Berkeley-tulane Initiative on Vulnerable populations at the human Rights. Center, University of California-berkeley, tabulated the data for Human Rights.
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Jump to main content, pesticides, about, pesticides. Protecting, health the, environment, pest Control, pesticide. Regulation, partners, pesticide Ingredients and Products, for Kids. Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the eu market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions review that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism. Human Rights Watch would like to thank all of the survivors of sexual violence, former offenders and their families, social workers, advocates, law enforcement officials, and attorneys who shared their experiences and perspective with us for this report. We are especially grateful to those who trusted us with very painful and personal stories.