Thursday, 16 May 2013

Is Idaho's Sex Offender Registry effective? - Guess How And How Not

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 9:54 PM, Updated yesterday at 10:48 PM

Is Idaho's Sex Offender Registry effective?

"This year marks the 20th year of Idaho's Sex Offender Registry, so KTVB looked at what's changed in those two decades and whether the registry is serving its intended purpose 'to protect communities'.

Since its creation and adoption in 1993, the registry has become more controversial, mostly for two reasons: The high level of public access to the information, and because every offender is listed, without classifications."

"ACLU: Registries punish people unconstitutionally

"Rather than have an assessment on the front end of whether or not they're going to reoffend, they just go into this blanket registry," ACLU of Idaho's Executive Director Monica Hopkins said.

The American Civil Liberties Union disagrees with having sex offender registries in general, and particularly disagrees with public registries with no differentiation of severity of crime. They say the registries deny offenders due process rights.

"You have everything from you know minor sex crimes to very egregious sex crimes and they all go in the same registry," Hopkins said. "Something that started as a regulatory thing so law enforcement could know where individuals were is now a punitive thing that lasts way beyond someone paying their debt to society back.""

"Does the registry prevent sexual abuse from happening?

While some justice experts believe the registry ups awareness, and cuts re-offending, many say it doesn't do much to curb first-time offenses. Critics say the amount of violent sexual crimes are as high or higher than before the registry. KTVB found forcible rape rates (accounting for population growth) in Idaho, for example, fell the first few years of the registry but haven't been that low again.

"That's what we need to focus on, is not just being aware of who an offender is, but let's really focus on how to not have a victim," Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney said.

Raney believes the registry responds well to the public demand for access to the information, especially after a north Idaho murder, kidnapping, and sexual abuse case shocked the state. The victims were strangers to now-convicted killer Joseph Duncan.

"I think the highlight was around the time of the Joseph Duncan offense in northern Idaho when everybody realized, you could be there, not doing anything. You're child's just fine and suddenly your world changes in a flash," Raney said. "That can happen, and I think the sex offender registry offers people just a little bit of comfort about knowing who their neighbors are.""

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