Back on April 10th, The Oklahoman published a biased pro-registry Op-Ed entitled "Sex Offender Laws Grounded in Reality, not Cruelty." I wrote and submitted a rebuttal piece but they're too cowardly to publish the truth. Thus, I thought I'd share the OpEd here:
Sex Offender Laws are Grounded in Cruelty, NOT Reality
By Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com, Anti-Registry Activist
In response to a similarly titled Op-Ed, I wish to counter that numerous CO registry laws were properly struck down as unconstitutional in a US District Court and I hope the 11th Circuit upholds this important ruling. Similar decisions, including Commonwealth v. Muniz (PA), State v. Williams (OH), and Does v. Snyder (MI/ 6th Cir.), have made similar rulings, and rightfully so.
First, registry laws are NOT based on reality. Registries are reactionary laws inspired by rare tragedies, leading to a bloated mass of nearly 900,000 names, including kids as young as age 10, drunks who urinated in public, and even people who did not commit a sexual offense. (In one instance, Illinois courts upheld a ruling forcing a man to register for grabbing the arm of a 14 year old girl to chastise her for stepping in front of his moving car.)
Registry advocates claim high re-offense rates, but numerous American studies on recidivism found re-offense rates in the single digits, with an annual percentage rate of re-offense around 1%. The largest re-offense study in America, conducted by the US Department of Justice, found a 5.6% rearrest rate after 5 years (1.1% annually). Registry advocates tend to cherry-pick one or two studies that confirm personal biases; Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter cites a Canadian study that used data from other nations with differing laws from the US.
Registry advocates try to downplay low re-offense rates by claiming sex crimes are “the most underreported crime.” The underreporting myth relies on the assumption that someone on the public registry must be the sole reason for underreporting, but the assumption defies all logic when you consider the typical profile of the average sex offense arrest. Most sex crimes occur in the home (around 70%) by someone the victim already knows (about 93%), and far more likely than not, that person has no prior sex offense record (95%).
Reality relies on evidence and facts, not assumptions. Hunter wants to have his cake and eat it too by suggesting that sex crimes are underreported yet it is also evidence of the efficacy of the registry since he believes it increases “vigilance.” In reality, most people do not look at public registries, and most who do access registries for curiosity or salacious reasons, not out of safety concerns.
Can we stop pretending registry laws are not based on the desire to cause harm to a suspect class? After Cherish Perrywinkle was murdered in Florida, Florida passed more laws while declaring they were making Florida “scorched earth” for registered persons. Miami passed a 2500 foot residency restriction law named after Lauren Book, a lobbyist’s daughter molested by a female nanny with no prior record. The result is a decade of homeless registrant camps from the Julia Tuttle bridge to Hialeah, and Miami just passed a local law allowing police to round up the registrants who cannot find housing. Oklahoma is passing a law to add more places registrants cannot legally reside because Oklahoma’s restrictions forced a registrant to live near the summer home of a former victim.
After two decades of this moral panic, the evidence that the laws are based on cruelty and not reality is crystal clear.