Taking on the Myth of Failure to Register


Battle_Creek_Enquirer_Logo.jpgThose of us who have been fighting for sex offender law reform have long been up against the myth of high sex offender recidivism.  Although extensive research has now proved beyond any doubt that sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the criminal justice system - the powerful and heartbreaking narratives of sex offender recidivists who have committed heinous acts emotionally obscures what should be self-evident to all.

Now there is a new myth that is taking root on this issue - the myth that offenders who fail to register have a higher risk of committing a new sex crime.  Although this issue has not been studied as thoroughly as overall recidivism, the few studies done to date show that there is no correlation between a failure to register and sex crime recidivism.

Registrants have an obligation to report all required information to law enforcement agencies - but this new myth is causing expanding penalties for missing a filing deadline.  The courts have said that the registry is part of civil law, not criminal law. Yet, failure to file paperwork in a timely manner is now a felony in most places- even for a first offense.  In what other areas of civil law is a missed filing deadline a felony?

Eventually, the notion of the registry not being punitive will be exposed for the farce that it is and many of the retroactive sanctions imposed on law abiding former offenders will be reversed.  In the meantime, we have a new myth to battle - the myth of greater danger from those who to fail to comply with the technical requirements of reporting information.

USA FAIR Executive Director Shana Rowan addressed this issue - along with the costs to the public for imprisoning otherwise law abiding people for technical violations - in an Op-ed that appeared in the Battle Creek Enquirer.  You can read it HERE.

 

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