Definitive list dating offenses blog
To understand why a wrongful conviction in a sex offender case is such a travesty, you need to know a little about the sex offender laws and the mandatory, so-called “rehabilitation” methods.
(This will be a little bit lengthy.) Over the last few decades, states have been steadily rewriting their sex offense laws to become more and more draconian.
This law was enacted by the New Jersey General Assembly in 1994 in response to the rape and murder of seven year old Megan Kanka.
Since then, the law has been enacted in some form by every state, and has also resulted in a federal FBI sex offender registry.
It’s been well documented that eye witness identification is very unreliable.
But how could an assault victim mistakenly identify her attacker?
An example would be Rules for Sex Offenders in the Community from the state of Washington Department of Corrections.
There are, however, some common threads that tend to run through these programs, and typical requirements would include: 1) You must register as a convicted sex offender.
I’m not saying we should let actually guilty sex offenders off the hook, but the punitive measures have become so severe, that when someone is wrongfully convicted of a sex offense, the consequences they are forced to endure magnify the injustice.
However, a 2008 federally funded study conducted in New Jersey, where Megan’s Law was first enacted, found that it failed to reduce sex crimes or repeat offenders. If you’re interested in plodding through a 50 state survey of sex offender legislation, you can read the one done by the National Institute of Corrections and the Washington College of Law here. Let me emphasize again that I do not want to be dismissive of the issues involving sexual aggressors and violence against women, but it just seems to this old brain that an act that a generation or so ago would have effectively been dealt with by some other means can now turn you into a convicted (and registered) sex offender.
Sentencing is just one area in which the sex offender laws have become more harsh. My observation has been that “zero tolerance” policies, while well meaning, always run afoul of the complexities of reality.
The requirements for frequency of registration and duration of the registration period are tied to sex offender classification levels, which are intended to reflect the measure of risk to the public.
The level for any individual offender is determined by the court in some states, and by an administrative board in others.