Ineffectiveness of Sex Offenders Registering In the Sex Offender Registry
"Stranger danger" is one of the common phrases in the United States. The term has majorly been used with an aim of educating and protecting children from danger, particularly from crimes that are sex based. In the US, crimes that are sex related are highly publicized with varied approaches being established to deal with the public outcry. The public outrage and fear have played an important role in effectively motivating the passage of a broad legislation governing the behavior of sex offenders. Incidentally, through the legislation, it is mandatory for the states in America to have a sex offender registry. The main purpose of the statute is to offer protection to the public particularly of sex perpetrated crimes and offenses against children.
Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe
Looking at the facts of the case Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe, it is prevalent that the Connecticut law requires an individual convicted of a sexual offense to be registered with the Public Safety Department. Subsequently, the details of the offender are further relayed out to the public over the internet. One of the convicted sexual offenders, John Doe, claimed that the Connecticut Law violated his privacy rights as presented under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court affirmed the respondents claim by indicating that disclosing such information violates Due Process based on the fact that the defendant was deprived of hearing (“Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe," n.d).
In Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe, several factors are prevalent indicating the ineffectiveness associated with sex offenders registering at a sex offender’s registry. Within the presented court case, the Connecticut Department availed the personal details offender to the public. As is, the department revealed the name, location, pictures, and sexual description of the offender to the public. Based on this move, the respondent claimed that his right as outlined within the Fourteenth Amendment by the constitution was violated. Incidentally, he had not yet been provided with hearing that determined his dangerousness level. Doe claimed that his reputation was damaged.
Despite this, the Supreme Court derived that the complaint by the respondent was baseless because it was not mandatory for the statutory scheme to show that the offender was currently dangerous. Furthermore, the respondent had no claim under the Fourteenth Amendment because the registry statute does not consider a hearing to be a consideration before an offender is registered (“Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe, " n.d). Incidentally, the only requirement by the law is an offender's conviction to be registered in the public registry. Based on this, the court determined that the claim was not relevant.
Privacy concern is one of the factors indicating the ineffectiveness of having the sex offenders registered at the Sex Offender Registry. Considering the case of Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe, the court provided a ruling that it had no opinion regarding whether the implemented state law was in violation of the due process rights as claimed by the respondent. The privacy challenge is evident with the registration of the offenders in the registry. Incidentally, making public the information about the offenders means a privacy rights violation of the criminals.
According to Handler (2011), the fundamental right to privacy is limited when it comes to the protection of the sex offender's rights. Despite this, there is a possibility that the Supreme Court will take into consideration the right to privacy in cases where the sex offender registration is brought before the court. If the Court derives that sex offenders should be provided with a fundamental right, the government will not have the capacity to infringe the presented right without the existence of substantial interest. It is viable that having the benefit of the community at heart is the priority of the government in this case. However, when it comes to the claim of a substantive due process, the central question arising is that the registration of the sex offenders counteracted with community notification are directed towards ascertaining the public safety goal.
What contributed to the passage of the Law?
The public fear and outrage committed towards the enactment of the law. It is a fact that before the law came into existence, children were mainly the persons affected as a result of the actions of the sex offenders in the region. The Congress passed the Walsh Act in 2006. The act is also known as the Child Protection and Safety Act. The law was passed to enhance the ability of the federal sex offender legislation in protecting the public from sex-related crimes. Handler (2011) depicts that the main purpose if the Walsh Act is to offer protection to the public as well as children from sex offenders and sex-related crimes. The act ensures this through the establishment of a comprehensive national system that requires all sex offenders to be registered. The Act offers guidance to the state on how the sex offender legislation should be structured by mandating the Federal Attorney General on how to promulgate regulations and advice on sex-offender laws.
Nevada and its Sex Offender Registry Program
In Nevada, the Sex Offender Registry program is focused on enhancing compliance and cooperation of a convicted sex offender (Day et al., 2014). In comparison to the presented case Department of Public Safety v. Doe, the Sex Offender Registry program is focused more on the compliance and cooperation of the offender other than public safety as presented in the case. The program requires any offender to register with the law 48 hours after being released from custody. The Nevada program requires the disclosing of the sex offender’s information to the appropriate persons but not to the general public (Vess et al., 2014). Furthermore, only limited information is provided to the public through the registry’s website. Taking into consideration the case Department of Public Safety v. Doe, a variance exists on how Nevada runs its Sex Offender Registry Program. Incidentally, unlike the Connecticut’s law, the Nevada public official considers the privacy of the offenders as element worth protecting. The information of the offenders is only provided to appropriate persons other than the public as a whole.
Handler (2011) states that the United States’ penal system within the United States has resulted in extended budgetary concerns for the states and the federal government. Looking at the states budget, it is evident that the prison system comes in second in the budget expenditure. Additional programs focused on regulating the behavior of the offender after the release of an inmate is regarded as additional costs to the penal system’s budget. To my place of work, the company’s management will have to incur extra costs based on the fact that the offender will be under a constant watch by police officers. Therefore, while at work, the company will have to cater for the officer’s needs as well.
Looking at the economic impacts on the community, it is a fact that the cost of living declines in a community where the offender resides. In support of this, Dearinger (2011) reveals that home prices go down by approximately 9% in a case where a sex offender lives. The move is mainly to attract the attention of homebuyers having in mind that safety is a primary concern for homebuyers. The sex offender registration counteracted with community notification drives fear among homebuyers making investors decrease the prices of their homes to remain in business. In cases where the offenders are living near public or private schools, an adverse effect is likely to be recorded concerning revenue generation from the schools in the region. Prevalently, with the increased fear as a result of security concerns, parents will refrain from enrolling their children in the identified schools and at the same time some will transfer theirs to other schools. With this, the schools will have a limited number of attendants hence a limited income generation by the institution.
In summary, public outcry for safety from sex-related crimes resulted in the establishment of the Walsh Act. The act requires all sexual offenders to register with the law on the Sex Offender registry which is further shared with the community or the public. Despite the move to promote public safety, the program results in privacy breach as evident in the case Department of Public Safety v. Doe. In the case, it is a commonality that the act does not hold to a higher regard the privacy of the sex offenders when they opt to share their details with the public.
“Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe." (n.d). Oyez. Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Tech. Retrieved from <https://www.oyez.org/cases/2002/01-1231>
Day, A., Carson, E., Boni, N., & Hobbs, G. (2014). The management of sex offenders in the community: from policy to practice.Australian Journal Of Social Issues (Australian Social Policy Association), 49(3), 249-264.
Dearinger, B. (2011). The Mandatory Pretrial Release Provision Of The Adam Walsh Act Amendments: How "Mandatory" Is It, And Is It Constitutional?. St. John's Law Review, 85(4), 1343-1450.
Handler, M. R. (2011). A Law Of Passion, Not Of Principle, Nor Even Purpose: A Call To Repeal Or Revise The Adam Walsh Act Amendments To The Bail Reform Act Of 1984. Journal Of Criminal Law & Criminology, 101(1), 279-308.
Vess, J., Day, A., Powell, M., & Graffam, J. (2014). International sex offender registration laws: research and evaluation issues based on a review of current scientific literature. Police Practice & Research, 15(4), 322-335. doi:10.1080/15614263.2011.646744