I have been working with sexual offenders for over 40 years, and I have seen the impact on sex offender registration with hundreds, if not thousands, of clients. Juveniles who have committed sexual offenses and have to register have increased difficulty finding employment, housing, and social partners. I have had the personal experience of one adolescent client who chose suicide over having to register for life as a sexual offender. Current research is very consistent and clear that juvenile sexual offenders as a group pose minimal risk to the community as a whole. Study after study shows sexual re-offense rates for juvenile sex offenders as between 3% and 8%. I think it is time to recognize that adolescents change dramatically during their teen years, and imposing a lifetime sentence of public humiliation and shame is simply not necessary with this group, and will cause more harm than good. There should be some differentiation between offenders, not simply on the basis of being over 14 at the time of the offense and the victim being under age 12. It is my opinion that only the worst of the worst offenders should be subject to sex offender registration, and at a minimum that should exclude first-time offenders unless the crime involved death of a victim.

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