Time to Purge Bloated Sex Offender Registries

Those who fight for a more equitable way to keep track of sexual predators won a big victory in Michigan last week. That is a state with some 44-thousand names on its Sexual Offenders Registry list.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland put his foot down and gave the Michigan legislature 60 days to rewrite its current “unconstitutional” registry statute.

Last Spring, Judge Cleland set a 90-day deadline for lawmakers to rework the law, but he was ignored. This time he’s serious.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland

Everyone agrees we need to keep track of career sexual criminals after they are released from prison. Once they’ve been convicted of violent sex crimes it follows that they might re-offend. A public safety monitoring system makes sense.
But understand that these state registries – there is one in every state – are bloated beyond belief with many names that shouldn’t be there. Registries were mandated by federal law in the mid-90’s to keep watch over ex-con pedophiles who sexually targeted children. Somewhere along the line we lost our way.
Included over the years have been: a 10-year-old female caught “playing sex” then branded with “criminal sexual conduct” charges. Teenage boys caught with high school girls. Drunks discovered urinating or streaking in public. Average citizens unjustly accused of sex crimes during ugly divorces. And men duped into believing that an intimate partner was not a minor when she was. Many of these people, often caught up in a moment of normal human passion, have been forced to register as sex criminals – for the rest of their lives.

Should Young Love Be Declared “Criminal”? – wikimedia

Do we really want to lump these kinds of “criminals” in with hardcore sexual predators?
Judge Cleland found that Michigan’s Sexual Offenders Registration Act, enacted in 2006, illegally clawed onto the registry citizens who had committed offenses and served their time years before the law was ever enacted. He also concluded that a 2011 amendment to the SORA, which added confusing rules for juveniles, was unconstitutionally vague and overreaching. Among other things that amendment allowed juveniles (who met certain criteria) to apply to escape the registry – but only after 25 years.
While the requirements and restrictions vary from state to state it is undeniable that this system is destroying lives and taxing both public safety and social welfare programs. It’s a lifelong Scarlet Letter sentence.

Maybe Sex Offenders Should Have to Wear a Scarlet Letter? -wikimedia

Registrants must check in with law enforcement for decades after the offense. Their case details and personal information is shared with the public, including where they work and live. This, of course, is information any employer or landlord will see. The registrant cannot travel without checking in with another police department, nor be anywhere near where a child might be (even if their offense didn’t include a child) including their own home, a school, fast food restaurant, church, theater or mall. This can greatly restrict where a registrant can work or live. It can also make them targets of vigilante justice.
In 1999, a high school student in Oklahoma jokingly “flashed” female classmates and was arrested for indecent exposure. He was jailed for four months and ordered to register as a sex offender for at least a decade. The kid committed suicide a month before his 20th birthday.
In 2002, a woman in Georgia was convicted of sexual offenses for allowing her 15-year-old daughter to have sex in their home. She was not sentenced to jail, but she was forced onto the offender’s registry. Three of her children were put in foster care and she had to leave the family home to live in a trailer “way off down a dirt road.”
In 2016, Ernest Leap of Oakview, Missouri finally won a gubernatorial pardon for a crime both he and his two sons insisted never happened. For 27 years Leap had to live with the moniker “child molester” following a most ugly divorce. Ernest had won custody of his young boys but they would later tell the court their mother had forced them to lie about their father’s molestation.
Its cases like these that make it clear every state needs to follow Michigan’s lead and check the fairness of its sex offender registry. Cut the bloat and focus monitoring on the most dangerous sex criminals among us.



  1. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Reader Sickandtiredofit writes:

    Agreed! Not only is it ridiculous punishment for most, but it prevents people from assimilating back into society. They are basically actively trying to create more criminals by isolating people from society and not allowing them to have jobs or homes. I liken it to the South Park episode “Mexican Joker”, in a way.
    Please, politicians, stop with the BS. Let people move on from this farce. You aren’t keeping people safe- if anything you are allowing families to become the targets of vigilante justice based on lies and deceit.

  2. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Reader Denny J. writes:

    The registry was a bad idea in theory and has been a train wreck in practice.

  3. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Reader Joe Bob Nunez writes:

    Unintended consequences

  4. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Reader Chantelle Rogers Rodriguez writes:

    Do we still not understand that pedos real pedos don’t usually act suspicious. All these signs say to me, is we are still woefully ignorant in dealing with this issue.

  5. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Reader Sue Corcoran writes:

    I think keeping kids on it that messed about at a young age, or people who have been lied to about someone’s age, definitely does more harm than good. You end up with an unmanageable register, with the most dangerous predators slipping through the net.

  6. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    Reader Mamma_C@JessicaSholley writes:

    Ppl w sex crimes where they are both teens, but she’s underage, should absolutely drop off after a few years. I know of a decent local guy that has been haunted by this. He can’t leave the area, even if he wanted to, because no outside employer is going to want to take a chance.

  7. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Reader Jim Hurst@slimjimtuc writes:

    It seems to me that after a person has done his/her time, including parole, without any violation, removing their name from the registry should be an option.

  8. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Reader Shafawn G writes:

    It doesn’t need to be a subjective «check the fairness of their sex offender registries». It needs to be classified offender differences on sentencing that strictly requires specific reasons not to be included on sex registry list. Otherwise liberal authorities will abuse the ability to subjectively remove names.

  9. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    Reader Butters writes:

    I think ‘we lost our way’ by becoming far too liberal. In my view there should be no registry as in my mind violent sex offenders and murderers should no longer be breathing.

  10. Diane Dimond on February 24, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    Reader John Sturtz writes:

    The trouble is plea bargains. Sex offenders are allowed to plead to lesser charges to reduce the penalty. But they still committed horrible sex crimes.

  11. Diane Dimond on February 25, 2020 at 8:54 am

    Reader Ieee writes:

    Experts never supported Registries and know they were a bad idea. They have certainly been proven to have been right.

    Today, there are no informed, moral people who support Registries. Zero.

    It is trivial to prove that sex offender registries are not needed or useful. Trivial.

    Registries are useless, increase crime, and put all Americans in a lot more danger than we would be if they didn’t exist. They are truly idiotic social policy.

    But that hasn’t stopped big government from expanding them incessantly. They don’t care about facts or protecting anyone. The Registries are nothing but a giant pile of excrement and big government just keeps messing with it, pushing the excrement around, and re-forming the excrement, all based around their lies that it is useful and makes sense. It will never be anything except a pile of excrement.

    Yet somehow these big government harassers haven’t even been capable of Registering people who commit crimes with guns. They want shooters to live by schools. Heck, they are fine with shooters in schools.

    Yet they’ll continue to lie to all of us about how it’s all for public safety and protecting children. Nothing but lies.

  12. Diane Dimond on March 3, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    Reader C. Renée LaVail, MS, LMFT – Clinical Director of Southwest Family Guidance Center & Institute writes:

    I so appreciate this article and that this topic is getting some overdue attention. With the national number on the registry reaching close to 1,000,000, with a fair chunk being juveniles, it is past time for change!

  13. Liz and Fred Levesque on March 18, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you for another excellent article on the Sex Offender Registry, pointing out the injustices and unintended consequences. Please keep it up. Someone like you with a voice that can be heard needs to keep speaking out, so hopefully changes can be made.

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