As an advocate for survivors of abuse and as someone who has personally been impacted by sexual violence, I care deeply about true accountability for offenders, prevention of new harm and the safety and healing of our communities. Because of those priorities and values, I was alarmed at The Register Guard’s editorial that advocated for a public safety policy that is disconnected from what we know works, does not keep our communities safe and fails to support families’ healing.
The overwhelming consensus from experts across the board is that sex offender registries do not to make communities safer. In one of the largest nationwide studies using the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data, researchers found that after implementation of sex offender registration and notification laws, 70% of states experienced no change or saw an increase in the incidences of sexual assaults. It’s simply not a sensible public safety policy.
There are a number of reasons why the lists do not work. First, 95% of sex crimes are committed by people who would not be on any sex offender registry, even with full compliance. About 93% of sex crimes against children are committed by people close to that child, such as family members, authority figures or friends. So even in the best-case scenarios, sex offender registries massively miss the mark and provide a dangerous, false sense of protection for our children.