The ineffective, bloated registry is actually counterproductive to providing a safer environment for children. If low-risk offenders, especially teens and young twenty-somethings who had, or discussed on the internet, consensual sex, were removed from the Registry, law enforcement might have the time and resources to develop an accurate Registry and monitoring system for violent, repeat offenders. I do not need to know that a 21-year-old who had consensual sex with a 15-year-old is living in my neighborhood, so don't waste my taxpayer dollars telling me. In my family, we had two sexual assault incidents: my brother experienced an attempted sexual molestation by an uncle who took him on a camping trip, and my sister was held hostage in an attempted rape by a 14-year-old right here in Atlanta in the early 1980's. The Registry and its restrictions would not have protected either of them. It makes for great soundbites, though, for politicians who are too lazy or too involved in self-promotion to read the research. Meanwhile, young people who made terrible mistakes in judgement, but who pose no threat to anyone, are prevented, for all intents and purposes, from ever reintegrating into society and living a good, productive life, so why should they even try? Draconian sex offender laws are the new witch hunt, and some day in the future, they will be looked upon as America having given in to myth, hyperbole, and hysteria.
I hope and pray that David Ralston et. al. review the research on sex offenses when crafting their legislation. Georgia continues to punish close to 17,000 people after they have served their debt to society, even though Georgia's own Registry Review Board, appointed by the Governor, states that 65% of those registered are little or no risk to the community. In addition, research by state criminal justice departments has concluded that registry restrictions are ineffective, and even counterproductive.
While the overly-broad category of "sex offenders" are not allowed to reintegrate into or contribute to society, because they can't find jobs or housing and suffer from harassment and humiliation, truly dangerous predators are not adequately monitored, because law enforcement is stretched too thin.
I want the leglislators to use my tax money to protect all Georgia citizens. What I don't want is legislation based on politics rather than justice.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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