This month Human Rights Watch released a report that unambiguously demonstrates that our policies regarding sex offenders are seriously flawed. If you have time to read the 146-page document, you're probably less stressed than we are. If not, we present some of the most revealing excerpts.
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;
• Under community notification laws, anyone anywhere can access online sex offender registries for purposes that may have nothing to do with public safety. 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.
Human Rights Watch also points the problem of juvenile offenders.