As the world continues to learn more about coronavirus and its spread, it's vital to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. However, it's also important to make sure that the information being distributed is from credible sources. To that end, Between The Lines has compiled, [...]
Sex offender registries are very popular with the public, at least at first glance (“Hysteria hits home,” BTL Aug. 27). However, there have been a number of unintentional and negative consequences of the law, including perpetuating sex offender stereotypes and myths, promoting moral or predator panic, promoting vigilantism, deterring reporting of certain sex crimes and creating barriers to successful reintegration and rehabilitation.
To date, no study has found evidence Megan’s Law acts as a deterrent, and may even be counterproductive to reducing criminal sexual behavior. With that revelation, proponents of the law have shifted from emphasizing the deterrent effect to the information benefit. However, stats show even that argument is difficult to justify.
Furthermore, the low number of individuals regularly visiting registries coupled with a high incidence of vigilantism against registrants and their loved ones suggest a very strong correlation between registry use and vigilante violence and harassment.
Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court had erred in the Smith v. Doe decision, largely as a result of myth reliance and lack of proof to the punitive nature of the laws. However, after years of the existence of these laws, the negative and punitive consequences have become evident through research and the courts, and a stronger case for reversing the old Smith v. Doe decision can bemade.