A recent Associated Press piece headlined with “More states are adopting registries intended to track former convicts”.
The article mentions that when a University of Toledo student went missing last summer, her friends checked out the state’s sex offender list and proceeded to knock on doors of registrants.
I can understand their desperation in trying to find their missing friend, what I don’t understand is why they think they had the right to go tracking down registrants who were presumably now law abiding citizens just minding their own business. Did they think that if they “sniffed around” enough at a registrant’s door, surely they would locate their missing friend? The public feeds on the “once a sex offender always a sex offender” mentality that the registry creates.
Turns out the missing student, according to investigators, was actually killed by a neighbor (with a hidden past) who had never been convicted of a sex crime and was not on the registry.
The deceased young woman’s mother makes the statement “If you’re trying to get back in society, and you’re trying to be a productive member of society, you have to own what you did. You’re there for a reason,and you put yourself there for a reason”. She also later goes on to say that she doubts the registry would have saved her daughter although it might protect someone else and remove some of the fear her neighbors now have in their everyday lives. It’s not how she wants to have to live, but she wants to be”informed”.
I am assuming that she mistakenly thinks being on a registry is “owning up to your crime.” Years spent in prison forces most people to “own up to the crime”, the registry, as we all know, is just the “icing on the cake.” Studies have shown that the registry makes no one “safer”, in fact, it puts those on it and their families at risk when misguided and mis-informed people think it’s OK to just start knocking on registrants doors anytime someone goes missing.
Since the 1990’s advent of the sex offender registry states across the country have jumped on the band wagon with public registries for a myriad of things, and more are being considered everyday. There are registries for murderers, meth-related crimes, those convicted of more than 5 DUI’s, and for animal abusers. Registries for those convicted of violent crimes, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon and “habitual offenders of felony crimes that are not sex related”.
Pennsylvania and Texas are considering domestic violence registries.
On any given day someone can suggest a registry that might include any one of us for anything, not picking up after your animals, not keeping your lawn mowed, being overweight, underweight, too attractive or not attractive enough. It’s just gotten way out of hand. And, it’s senseless, the registries don’t make anyone “safer”. Maybe it keeps people “informed”, but personally, I don’t need or want this much information about people I don’t know, having this much information isn’t going to make me any safer. And registries provide “bare-bones” info, so the information one garners from them becomes very much “subjective” and we read into it what we want to read into it.
We live in a world of uncertainty, a world full of dangers. No registry of any kind can or will keep us “safe” from all the possible dangers that might befall us.
And on any given day, anyone of us could end up on a registry because someone somewhere thought a new registry was needed to keep the public safer from something else.
And we all know how difficult it is to repeal a registry once it’s been enacted.!