As if these sorts of stories weren’t completely predictable, it seems that yet again someone listed on an offender registry has been the victim of vigilante justice in Sacramento.
Years ago, when every child protection agency in the country was pushing for these laws I though they were a bad idea, and I still do. The net effect of laws like this are two-fold, one we see right in this story. People listed in the registry, for whatever reason, are going to be the victims of violent crimes. The second, is that a whole generation of parents and politicians are going to convince themselves that they know where are the dangers for their kids are, because they’re in the database, and they can pressue these people to leave their neighborhoods, to even further protect their children. Nice thought, but completely not the reality of child abuse. Most abuse is suffered at the hands of family, relatives and friends with access to a child, not released offenders committing another crime.
Megan’s Law has been in effect for years now, and the on-line offender registries have been available for awhile as well. If it’s as effective as proponents said it would be, shouldn’t we see a corresponding decline in the number of child sexual abuse cases being reported? Do we?