As I have been reading various SOR/RSO research, I came upon the topic of which countries actually have a registry. It turns out it’s a phenomenon present only in English speaking countries, or the Anglosphere. Much of the help for my research on this topic was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_offender_registry though I did look at some other sources that confirmed at least part of it. I expected to find similar laws in other countries (particularly Canada and the UK). While i did find some similarities, there were obvious patterns of difference where the United States proves itself worthy of buffoon status among all countries of the world once again. The other 7 countries, much less so.
The most shocking find was that the United States is the ONLY country in the world with a Public Sex Offender Registry (SOR). We are the only country in over 20 years of SOR development that has the gall to subject its citizenry to such public humiliation despite such acts being outlawed under the cruel and unusual punishment clause of our most sacred Constitution. Why, out of 8 countries with a SOR, are we the only ones who think public humiliation is okay? As J.J. Prescott pointed out in his recent law journal, Portmanteau Ascendant: Post Release Regulations and Sex Offender Recidivism it comes down to one word : Politics. RSOs are a very easy and hated target for politicians to step on to show their voters they won’t tolerate crime and have the best interest of society in their minds. On paper this is common sense; but as the consensus of social science research shows, continued plucking of this low-hanging fruit can (and does) actually increase the danger to society as shown in Prescott’s simple economic model. It also has the dual detriment of wasting tax dollars and human resources that could serve much better purposes. In Louisiana, this typically translates into funding cuts for Education and Health Care. Believe it or not, I find a registry accessible to law enforcement agencies a mostly reasonable approach though it still has its own set of problems and intrusions including harassment and the real threat of information leaks. Research says that the nations who employ these private registries have seen decrease in recidivism (Big Brother is definitely watching!)
Offense-based vs. Risk-based Systems
Once again, the United States takes first place in infamy by using the most ridiculous system of the bunch. We mostly use what is called an offense-based system (Louisiana included of course) which, is discussed in some detail in my earlier blog post Is early relief from Registration a possibility? and the risk-based system is actually in line with my suggestions for changes in our laws in Louisiana. As shown in the above-mentioned post, our offense-based systems does not not allow much flexibility for non-threats to be removed from the registry (and thus freeing resources to be used on potentially imminent recidivists). The few states that do employ the most empirically supported risk-based system are under pressure from the federal government to change to the widely accepted offense-based system.
I have not looked into more details on our overseas cousin-nations, but as typically seems to be usual, our northern neighbor Canada employs a far more reasonable approach than the United States. They employ a risk-based system with plenty of opportunities for non-threats to prove they no longer belong on the registry. The first words that came out of my wife’s mouth (and probably to the reader’s mind) when I mentioned Canada’s laws to her were “Well, I guess it’s time to move!” That is often a very attractive notion for RSOs and their loving families, But I reminded her that this is our home country where we were born and our families reside. While being patriotic can be quite difficult under SOR, it is still our rightful duty to fight for reform and not run away. The problem will still be present for nearly 1 million U.S. citizens whether we leave or not. We need to be the proverbial sacrificial lambs if we hope to reform our society. Besides that, the recent passport law will likely make running away an impossibility for all RSOs as some countries have already refused to allow us in. Ceteris Paribus, The trend towards increasingly backing a population into a corner will lead us towards devastating results (and more unintended victims). History has obviously failed to teach America not to back people into corners. Still, our other English-speaking cousins seem to have developed much better approaches that have yielded much better results (or at least not made things worse like ours has!) Maybe our lawmakers can learn something from them?
written by Discarded Asset on September 8, 2016.