This quote pretty much sums up how I have felt about the offender registries for years.
“”The registry really doesn’t work,” Socia says. “It’s a bloated, inefficient system that is incredibly expensive to maintain. I don’t think it really protects anybody.””
The whole idea of a registry was to ease the minds of panicked parents so they would check the public registry, know that their lovely, upper-class neighborhood didn’t have any offenders in it, and go back to ignoring any talk of their kids being at risk for sexual abuse.
None of that has ever been true. As you read the story below, you’ll see that there are 25,000 offenders that law enforcement has completely lost track of, many of whom now live among poor communities where parents do not have the same resources that others do to keep their kids safe and have continued to offend.
What you also won’t see is that registries do nothing, absolutely nothing, to protect against offenders who haven’t been caught and convicted. That would be the vast majority of cases, by the way.
Think about it this way, how many parents do you think checked the registries for offenders in East Lansing, or who were connected to USA gymnastics? How many of them felt safe because there were no listings as they sent their kids to get treated by Larry Nassar?
He abused hundreds of kids before anyone even spoke up, let alone brought criminal charges. All that money spent on registries didn’t protect anyone. What else could that money have done to prevent this?
That’s the true cost of these registries. If we ignore the “if it saves one child” rhetoric, and consider all of the programs, educational opportunities, and prevention strategies that didn’t get any funding. Was it worth it?
Wouldn’t longer jail sentences and programs to ensure an offender can re-enter society safely before release make more sense than a listing of convicted offenders that we can’t even keep track of?
We should be considering it. What we do now, clearly, isn’t working.