Do Sex Registries Really Protect the Public?

Sex registries are in the news again thanks to a couple of high-profile child sex abuse cases.  (Think multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein and singer R. Kelly) Keeping track of ex-cons who have sexually preyed on others sounds like a good idea. But do these registries of convicted sex criminals really help keep us safe?

Under a 2006 federal law each state, the District of Columbia, Native American tribes and U.S. territories were required to set up a tracking system for newly released sex offenders.

Sex Offender Who Simply Ignored Registy Requirements – wiki

General information about the offenders and their crimes is easily available online for the public to read. This can be especially useful for those active on the dating scene and parents of young children who want to know more about the new neighbor.

But, it is important to understand that many registries are bloated with names that probably shouldn’t be there. Public urination, streaking or sex between consenting teenagers can land a person on the registry. A man involved in a nasty divorce and falsely accused by an ex can find himself locked into years on a registry.  Children as young as 8 have been added, sometimes for innocent contacts like hugs or kisses.  In Colorado, a 15-year-old boy identified as T.B. was found guilty of sexually exploiting children after he sent a nude selfie to two girls, aged 15 and 17, and they reciprocated. TB was required to register as a sex offender for at least 20 years. That law has now been changed so teenaged sexting is no longer a felony but it’s too late for T.B.. His educational and vocational life has been stunted by his foolish teenage act.

Another problem? There is no uniformity to these registries. Some states have stringent rules about where an ex-offender can live and work. A sex abuser of children, for example, will likely be prohibited from residing with a relative who has kids or live near a school, playground or attend a church where children worship. In some states each routine check-in is followed by officers blanketing their neighborhood with flyers showing the registrant’s photo, address, car license plate and age of their victim. On Halloween some states require the convicted to post a sign in their window warning children not to knock.

Charged With Multiple Sex Crimes – Never on Registry – wiki

But some states may impose no restrictions on ex-con sex offenders aside from requiring they appear for routine check-ins. These state-by-state differences mean crafty, habitual predators can game the system by simply moving to a more tolerant location.

The uber-wealthy Epstein, for example, originally registered as a Tier Three offender in two states where he had homes, Florida and New York. But when he was ordered to report to Manhattan authorities every 90 days he deftly changed his primary residence from New York to his home in the Virgin Islands where there was no supervision. He reportedly frequented his 7,500-acre ranch in Stanley, New Mexico for the same reason.

Kelly, on the other hand, was never required to sign up for a sex registry even though allegations that he engaged in sex with girls as young as 12 have dogged him for decades. His 2008 trial on charges that he produced video child porn with a young girl was delayed by defense lawyers for six years and, ultimately, ended in an acquittal. This past February, more than a decade after he dodged prosecution, Kelly was indicted in Chicago on 10 counts of sex abuse of four victims. He was out on bail when the feds swooped in last week with a 13-count indictment charging Kelly, 52, with child sexual exploitation, kidnapping, forced labor and racketeering. He is now in custody.

Some Names on Registries Shouldn’t Be There  – wiki

The point, of course, is that all the sex registries in the world are not going to stop the most prolific sexual predators, the very ones we should focus on. And the rich and famous sex abusers, arguably the most dangerous of all, will always find a loophole to indulge their obsessions. Epstein, reportedly, continued to abuse young teen girls while he served jail time, his highly unusual 12-hour daytime work release allowed him to go home each day to his Florida mansion.

It is way past time for authorities to take a second look at these registries, cull the names of those who truly pose no danger to society and crack down on those obvious predators (and their slick lawyers) determined to beat the system.




  1. Diane Dimond on July 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Reader Shelly Stowa writes:

    Diane, you are about half right. There are no studies that validate the use of sexual offense registries as effective public safety strategy. Not for anyone. As you have noted, they do not deter the few who are unable or unwilling to alter their behavior after an initial conviction, and that does not apply to only the wealthy and privileged. Fortunately they are only the few, as the vast majority of those on the registry live offense free in the community doing their best to be productive, contributing citizens, fathers, husbands, sons, brothers — and mothers, wives, daughters.

    And in some states all registration is lifetime, no matter the offense. In some states there is no path off the registry at all. Ever.

    Many millions are spent maintaining the current system with no benefit whatsoever. It does not inhibit first time offenders, who, incidentally, commit at least 96% of all new sexual crime. As already discussed, it does not inhibit those determined to reoffend. And most importantly, it offers nothing in the way of prevention or of victim services or of healing and restoration for both victims and perpetrators — all of the things that research and best practice show will make a difference, especially in working toward prevention of child sexual abuse.

  2. Diane Dimond on July 22, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    Thank you for courageous article. Just one thing, though:

    Ma’am, in your article you recommend to “…cull the names of those who truly pose no danger to society.”

    But, I would caution that there is danger in that thinking. Many of us who could be placed in a high-risk category have addressed the underlying mental and emotional problems in our lives that facilitated our past criminal behavior, and we would never re-offend. ,

    Did you know that the re-offense rate for those who have a sex offense is actually lower than for any other crime type?The myth is that sex offenders pose a unique and extremely high risk of re-offense. This is simply not the truth.

    I propose that no public registry is good. They always violate the constitutional rights of those who have already paid their debts to society. They also violate the international human rights of those who have served their time and simply wish to move on with their lives.

    Here is a recent, eye-opening article from Huffpost that you may find interesting.

    I applaud your efforts to speak the truth. In my opinion, you personify journalistic integrity!
    Jeffrey Russell

    • Diane Dimond on July 22, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      Mr. Russell:

      I too have read that the recidivism rate of sex offenders is low … but upon further research I found that is in dispute. Without going into too much detail here – I discovered that in the first few years after a sex offender is released the re-incarceration rate is, indeed, low. But after, say, three or five years the rate of re-offending goes up. Given the limited word count I have on my syndicated columns I chose to leave out that angle of the story. I wish there was more research available on this important topic – but as of now there isn’t.
      I wish you all the best.

      Diane Dimond

  3. Diane Dimond on July 25, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Reader Vicki Henry writes:

    Diane –
    You didn’t use the term ‘ex-con’ sex offenders. That is an antiquated term and compounds the hurt to our families.

    Actually, we are re-framing our message (i.e. individual required to register).

    The numbers per the NCMEC is nearing one-million (912,000). Ironically the NCMEC EC is not making their bloated and unmanageable debacle of a registry viewable now.

    Take Care,

    Vicki Henry – President
    Women Against Registry

  4. Diane Dimond on July 25, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Reader Terry Wilmot writes:

    Diane … I hate hearing about the deal Epstein got when Acosta got involved in the first round of Epstein’s sexual predation case. The problem is there are so many others, in society, free, doing the same thing exactly (and worse) … maybe not as much money involved or on a level with Epstein’s lavish lifestyle, but breaking the same laws with the same obscene, brain recoiling behavior. The wealthier they are the more they get away with, over and over, year after year. It’s a societal back bend beyond sickening, actively perpetrated by moral morons like Acosta.

    Part of the baseline for the behavior is America’s blatant and on-going discrimination against women. According to the various “codes”, it is understood, taught, and planned that women are sex toys for men … and if they disagree, then they should shut up or get slammed against a wall and made to shut up. Trump enunciated the facts of the matter in his rapacious Billy Bush tape where he talked in graphic terms about how easy it was for celebs like himself to seduce women, even saying, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” And people elected this infantile Urine Brain to be the POTUS. But what he said is exactly how it is in this country for lots of males … and that insight, for me, causes a feeling of nausea and complete disgust. You know it … I know it.

    Civil Rights is an unresolved issue in this country, after all these years … there is still a horrible reservoir of hatred in the minds and hearts of a lot of people in this country. Vox reports “New research from the University of Alabama’s George Hawley, published by UVA’s Institute for Family Studies, suggests roughly 5.64 percent of America’s 198 million non-Hispanic whites have beliefs consistent with the alt-right’s worldview. Whether or not they would describe themselves as alt-right, Hawley argues, they share the movement’s belief in a politics that promotes white interests above those of other racial groups. If Hawley is right, then the alt-right’s constituency isn’t a tiny fringe. It’s about 11 million Americans.”

    “The ‘alt-right’ or ‘alternative right’ is a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States in addition to, or over, other traditional conservative positions such as limited government, low taxes and strict law-and-order. The movement has been described as a mix of racism, white nationalism, and populism … criticizes ‘multiculturalism’ and more rights for non-whites, women, Jews, Muslims, gays, immigrants, and other minorities. Its members reject the American democratic ideal that all should have equality under the law regardless of creed, gender, ethnic origin or race.” –The Associated Press.

    More nausea and COMPLETE disgust. How does one reconcile life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness under an umbrella of freedom of speech when these vile believers, discriminators and racist haters wander through society totally ignorant of America’s principals, beliefs, and values in and out of government, on the street, between people? The male-warrior hypothesis delves into the subject and helps explain at least part of the problem … which is another evolutionary issue evidenced throughout the history of human civilization. “It has been calculated that in the last 3,500 years, there have been just 230 years of peace throughout the civilized world … roughly 6.5% of the time. America Has Been At War 93% of the Time – 222 Out of 239 Years – since 1776, i.e. the U.S. has only been at peace for less than 20 years total since its birth … roughly 7% of the time.” Looks something like a long term TREND of war, cruelty, and slaughtering human beings on a grand scale, if you ask me. There is, apparently, always, human hunger for war, violence, cruelty, and conflict. What a legacy.

    Another horror settling in over this country, which is truly dire, in my view, is the loss of newspapers. Who else is going to hold the corrupt, the thieves, the morally castrated politicians, the perverts in and out of government to account? Who’s going to do that? “The numbers, as codified in a 2018 report by the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism, are sobering. The United States has lost nearly 1,800 newspapers since 2004. Hundreds of other papers have hollowed out until they are little more than ghosts of what they used to be. Of over 3,100 counties in the United States, about 200 now have no newspaper at all.”(6.5%) –Leonard Pitts 7/13/19 Epstein would still be “nesting” in his $77 million mansion if it wasn’t for the female newspaper reporter who worked hard over a long period of time and brought it all up for public consumption … because he’s a depraved degenerate who violated law after law after law, pretty much got away with it, and should be behind bars for the rest of his debauched life. Newspapers and reporters of all kinds fulfilling their Rights and Responsibilities are one of the lifebloods, strength, and vitalities of this nation–anything but the enemies of the people, as Enema Brain so likes to say (such complete debauchery dribbles out of the guy’s supremely rotten Tweeterhead brain-vulgarity …. literally tons of misogyny, lies, racism, scams, hate, bigotry, and made up conspiracies).

    So many problems–some extremely long term–infecting this culture and society … I just needed to vent after your article reminded me, once again, of just how perverse it can be on so many levels … the Catholic church’s sanctuary for the largest number of hidden and institutionally protected pedophiles under one roof on the planet, organized crime and associated criminals, inequalities spread from one end to the other of the national landscape for anyone not male or white, manufactured and sanctioned social hate splattered everywhere, civil right illegalities and obscenities crackling far and wide, interpersonal violence spiced with unbelievable inhumane horrors, corporate crimes bursting through the roof, the floor and inside all the closets in the quest for malevolent profits that cause untold grief, injury and death for hundreds of millions of human beings everywhere, and incredibly inane, imbecilic and moronic alt-right, parasitic politicians who tragically misunderstand the meaning of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for human beings in this country and elsewhere. It all–every bit and more–causes intense sorrow, grief, and nausea … to say the very least! It’s not that there isn’t GOOD to be had … it’s that what Good there is has damaged skin pustules, hysterical seizures, destroyed vocal cords from screaming in the alleys of anguish, and eye-balls lathered in eye discharge, the mucus, oil, skin cells and other debris that accumulates in the corner of your eye while you sleep, and struggle, and have mucus infested, fear, shock, and disgusting horror dreams about life and living and the people it’s shared with … night after night and then some. Yeah … one helluva legacy.

    Best regards — Terry Wilmot

  5. SuperAdminScot on August 8, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Readers Liz and Fred Levesque write:

    Dear Ms Dimond,

    Thank you for your courageous article on the Sex Offender Registry. This is something that has caused so much unnecessary harm to so many men who do not need to be on the Registry, those who pose no threat to society, yet legislators continue to pile on the restrictions in the name of public safety.

    This is in part fueled by a moral panic regarding anything related to “sex” and “children”. Another instance, which is particularly extreme in our area of the country, is the injustice in sentencing for child pornography offenses. In January, 2018, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, a man was sentenced, following a jury trial, to 170 years in prison for downloading child porn images onto his computer, using peer-to-peer software which allows for file sharing; thus he was charged with child porn distribution. For this offense in Virginia there is a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison for each charge after the first, and a charge can be made for each image downloaded. Since computer files typically contain hundreds of images, the sentence can be astronomical. In this case the prosecutor “went easy” and charged him for 35 counts. This man who was accused of molesting no one, no hands-on abuse, no violence, is now serving 3 life sentences. At the sentencing hearing the judge stated that the sentence was “wildly disproportionate to the crime” but his hands were tied. His case was appealed but has been denied.

    Most child porn cases are settled by plea deal. Every month, or so, we read in our local paper of a man sentenced to 5, 10, 15 years in prison by a plea deal for possessing or distributing child pornography. None of these men are accused of directly harming anyone, yet by way of comparison a sentence of 10 years is equal to the MAXIMUM mandatory sentence for VOLUNTARY manslaughter. And unlike the killer their sentence doesn’t end with the prison term; they bear the burden of the Sex Offender Registry for 15 or 25 years, or a lifetime.

    Thanks to the Internet, children are becoming hooked on porn at extremely young ages. (Various reports give the average age as 9 to 11.) A child with a smart phone carries a porn shop in his pocket. And porn is highly addictive (some say more so than cocaine). Hard core adult porn is legal but child porn is highly illegal; and for the addict it’s a slippery slope between the two. The line between legal and illegal porn is blurry and unmarked, especially for children and those driven by addiction.

    Granted, using child porn is disgusting and immoral, but does it deserve these severe sentences? Yet there doesn’t seem to be any outrage about a man being sentenced to 170 years for using child porn. The subject is just too taboo to shine a light on.


    Liz and Fred Levesque

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