The article will make you second-guess everything you think you know about sex offenders. Take this disturbing excerpt:
Sexual predators play a lead role in the production of a modern culture of fear.
In fact, the crimes that most spur public outrage — the abduction, rape and murder of children — are exceedingly rare. Statistically, a child’s risk of being killed by a sexual predator who is a stranger is comparable to the chance of being struck by lightning. The reported incidence of most forms of child abduction, including the most serious, has declined since the 1980s.Or how about this paragraph, which shoots holes in the idea the notion that "sex offender = repeat offender":
Advocates for laws to register, publicize and monitor sex offenders after their release from custody typically assert that those convicted of sex crimes pose a high risk of sex crime recidivism. But studies by the Justice Department and other organizations show that recidivism rates are significantly lower for convicted sex offenders than for burglars, robbers, thieves, drug offenders and other convicts.
Only a tiny proportion of sex crimes are committed by repeat offenders, which suggests that current laws are misdirected and ineffective.And did you know that the "sex offenders" who are given harsh sentences, lifetime registration requirements, and a host of living restrictions may not be the terrifying people we think they are?
Contrary to the common belief that burgeoning registries provide lists of child molesters, the victim need not have been a child and the perpetrator need not have been an adult. Child abusers may be minors themselves. Statutory rapists — a loose category that includes some offenses involving neither coercion nor violence — are covered in some states. Some states require exhibitionists and “peeping Toms” to register; Louisiana compelled some prostitutes to do so. Two-thirds of the North Carolina registrants sampled in a 2007 study by Human Rights Watch had been convicted of the nonviolent crime of “indecent liberties with a minor,” which does not necessarily involve physical contact.And yet sex offenses are the new "crime du jour": prime candidates for lengthy, one-size-fits-all mandatory minimum sentences, registries, and residency restrictions.
All mandatory minimums are bad justice, because every offense and every offender -- even a sex offense and a sex offender -- is unique. We simply cannot simplify justice, especially in cases that involve something as complicated as sex.
For more excellent coverage of the unintended absurdities of harsh sex offender laws, read this piece from Reason.