From the National Post (Canada)

Marni Soupcoff: Sex-offender registries may be doing more harm than good
With little proof of effectiveness, it’s hard to see how much longer they will be considered acceptable — at least without considerable refinement

A New Jersey Department of Corrections study found that the state’s sex-offender registry and warning system “cost millions of dollars and had no discernible effect on the number of sex crimes.”

To call the state of New Hampshire’s computer sex crime law excessive is an understatement. Just a couple of weeks ago, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld the felony conviction of a young man who, at age 18, went online and propositioned a 15-year-old girl (whom he knew) for sex. Because of the conviction, the computer sex crime law dictates that he’ll be on the state’s public sex-offender registry for life. If he’d actually had consensual sex with the underage girl, instead of propositioning her online, he’d have been charged with a misdemeanour and wouldn’t have been placed on the sex-offender registry at all.

It makes little sense. But then, sex-offender registries in general make a lot less sense than we tend to assume they do. The problem isn’t with their goal, which is to prevent future offences by sexual predators (the point of the public registries in the United States), or to make it easier to apprehend sex offenders (the point of the Canadian registries, which are accessible only by police). It’s with their effectiveness in achieving such goals, and the costs they impose to deliver their underwhelming results.


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