From my perspective, the registration system does not need to be modified, improved or organized (although changing it to a police-only registry would help). My very strong belief is that the sex offense registries across this country need to be dismantled, eliminated and forever abolished. The registry has been shown not to improve neighborhood safety or recidivism rates (which are already among the lowest of any crime category).
Sex offense registration is a terrible program that continues to survive because of fear, ignorance, bias, self-serving job-preservation decisions made by legislators, and the tough-on-crime attitudes of prosecutors and judges. It hurts not only the million-or-so people who must register but also another 2-4 million family members. The registry creates unemployment, it increases homelessness, it does not protect our children, it offers a false sense of security for parents, it is costly in terms of dollars and manpower, and it invites vigilanteism. And worst, it takes away any chance of redemption, renewal, or societal reintegration for those who must register, many of whom have already paid their debt in prison.
I do not have a legal background but I do have a son who was caught up in an ugly legal situation. I believe this gives me credentials that (I can only guess) the framers of this new rule don’t possess. The FBI sting operation in which my son became involved was tantamount to entrapment. He didn’t have a criminal record, there was no violence, and there was no contact of any kind. This was a crime he would have been unlikely or unwilling to commit without the grooming and prodding of the FBI. He was given 14 years in federal prison followed by lifetime on the registry and lifetime probation. The scales of justice are way out of balance!
This DOJ document goes to great lengths to explain previous court decisions. They do this, I believe, to argue against the constitutional challenges that have been raised in the past and are being raised again as these arguments are finding new life in the courts across this country. Despite the legal wrangling and court decisions to the contrary, I believe that many of the unconstitutionality arguments about the registry are in fact valid; including arguments that cite the prohibitions of Non-delegation, Ex Post Facto, Double Jeopardy, Cruel and Unusual Punishment and the promise of Due Process of law. I believe these arguments will eventually win out and the registry will be defeated. For a parent whose child is caught up in this nightmare, change cannot happen soon enough. But the changes offered in this proposed DOJ rule will not improve the laws to make them constitutional and more humane. I strongly oppose the adoption of this rule.