“REGISTRY-MANIA: The Expansion of Sex Offense Registries To Other Undesirables”
Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com
5 September 2008, Updated 26 January 2022
Sex Offense registries have been public since Megan’s Law passed in 1996, and all 50 states maintain these popular yet controversial registries. Since public registries have gained widespread cultural acceptance and popularity (despite serious doubts to constitutionality and effectiveness), the concept is expanding to other crimes, or in some cases, to people only suspected of crimes or “at risk” to commit crimes. This is a very dangerous trend as we face the distinct possibility of being punished merely because someone perceives you as a risk. Furthermore, by allowing the rights of one group of society to be degraded, you open the door to the degradation of the rights of everyone. The ever-expanding registry is a prime example of this erosion of rights.
Below is a list of registries—non-sex offenders on sex registries, registries for other crimes, even registries for people merely suspected, but not convicted, of sex abuse.
Florida’s “Soliciting for Prostitution” Registry
Florida’s 2019 “Soliciting for Prostitution Public Database,” passed by professional victim-turned-state Senator Lauren Book, is “the first of its kind”, but in January 2022, ABC Action News in Tampa Bay reports that only one person has been listed on the database since it was created.
(Kylie McGivern. “Despite hundreds of arrests in Florida, first-of-its-kind sex buyers database lists 1 person.” ABC Action News – Tampa Bay. 24 Jan 2022, accessed 26 Jan 2022 at https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/local-news/i-team-investigates/despite-hundreds-of-arrests-in-florida-first-of-its-kind-sex-buyers-database-lists-1-person)
“The fact that only one person is in the database just shows that this concept doesn’t actually work when it’s put into practice,” (State Attorney Andrew) Warren said. “That’s a problem.” With hundreds of arrests in Hillsborough County, the I-Team asked why more sex buyers have not been convicted of soliciting prostitution. “About half of those cases go into diversion because they’re first-time offenders, so they’re not subject to the database. About a quarter of those cases end up pleading to a section that’s not captured by the database. It’s another soliciting prostitution law, and then we have about a quarter of those cases still pending.”
“A person has to be arrested and convicted of soliciting prostitution after January 1, 2021, to go on the public list. The database includes a name, a picture and an address of the convicted individual from the time that they were addressed. If, after five years, the person has not committed another sexual offense, they’ll be automatically removed from the public database…
Public records show the single sex buyer listed on the database so far, solicited an undercover Hillsborough County deputy posing as a prostitute to perform a sex act for $25. “The idea that this database was somehow going to be the ‘cure all’ for what’s happening with prostitution and human trafficking was far-fetched,” Warren said…
Ultimately, the sweeping human trafficking bill passed with the support of all but one lawmaker. “I was the only no vote on this bill,” Democratic State Rep. Anna Eskamani, of Orlando said. Eskamani told the I-Team, if the database had not been included in the final version of the human trafficking bill, her vote would have been in favor. “Obviously I care deeply about preventing human trafficking,” she said. “My standing was really on just — what is effective. And I just did not see, the way the policy was written, to be effective. And I don’t want unintended consequences or I don’t want policy that gives off the impression that we’re preventing human trafficking when it’s not.” Eskamani said she would rather see the dollars put toward the database go to direct resources and organizations that are on the ground supporting human trafficking survivors.” …
“…the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) will study the database’s effectiveness and whether it is preventing and deterring human trafficking networks. The office will submit a report to the governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by Jan. 1, 2023. If the legislature does not reenact the database, it will be taken down on Jan. 1, 2024.”
Non-Sex Offenders on Sex Offender Registries
Illinois: The “Child Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act”
Illinois Public Act 094-0945 (2006) [Formerly HB 4193]
The Illinois Government News Network’s press release on the new registry reads as follows:
Also now available through the Illinois State Police website is the Child Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth (CMVOY) registry, accessible at http://www.isp.state.il.us/cmvo. The CMVOY registry contains individuals convicted of specific crimes in which the victim was a minor, but the crime was not sexually motivated. The crimes – as defined by HB 4193, signed by Governor Blagojevich on June 27, 2006 – include kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, unlawful restraint, aggravated unlawful restraint, and any attempt to commit any of these offenses when the victim is under 18 years of age and when the defendant is not a parent of the victim. Other offenses include forcible detention, child abduction or murder when the victim was a person under 18 years of age and the defendant was at least 17 years of age.
Similar to the Sex Offender Information website, the CMVOY reflects individuals who have been determined by the county state’s attorney to qualify under the provisions of the new statute. Until proper verification and notification is received by law enforcement from the state’s attorney, these individuals will remain on the Sex Offender Information website. All sex offenders who may be eligible for registration under the Child Murderer Violent Offender Youth Act have been notified of the process he or she must initiate to be transferred from the SOR to the Child Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth registry. These offenders must continue to register as sex offenders until the appropriate determination has been made and information has been received by law enforcement. (http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=1&RecNum=5972)
Ohio’s “Civil Registry” Places people on Sex Offender Registries
About SCCAR Web Application SCCAR is a database that contains information regarding all registered persons whom a court has entered a declaratory judgment under section 2721.21 of the Revised Code for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse in the State of Ohio. The purpose of SCCAR is to provide one location for all Ohioans to learn about civil registrants who live or work close to their home or their child’s school.
About Senate Bill 17 (https://www.lsc.ohio.gov/documents/gaDocuments/analyses126/06-sb17-126.pdf)
Senate Bill 17 became effective on August 3, 2006. In part, Senate Bill 17 created a cause of action, under section 2721.21 of the Revised Code, for a declaratory judgment in cases in which a victim of childhood sexual abuse is barred from bringing an ordinary civil action by the expiration of the limitations period; it created a registration and community notification program for persons who are found liable in a declaratory judgment action for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse; it requires the Attorney General to establish on the internet a civil registry of persons found liable in a declaratory judgment action for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse; and it prohibits persons required to register after being found liable in a declaratory judgment action for assault or battery based on childhood sexual abuse from failing to register and from living within 1,000 feet of any school premises.
Sharon Coolidge, “Ohio law dodges statute of limitations for sex crimes.” USA Today, Oct. 5, 2006
CINCINNATI — People who have never been convicted of a sex offense still could end up on a public registry in Ohio. A law that went into effect in August targets alleged sex offenders who can no longer face charges or be sued because the time allowed for either action — the statute of limitations — has expired. The new law allows prosecutors, the state’s attorney general or alleged victims to seek to put a person on the registry. Whoever makes the request must try to present enough evidence to convince a judge that the crime was more likely than not to have occurred. If a judge, after hearing testimony and reviewing evidence from both sides, determines that the abuse is likely to have taken place, then the alleged offender must register with the Ohio Attorney General’s Internet Civil Registry. (*Note: The burden of proof in civil cases is far lower than in criminal cases!)
Jim Siegel, “Civil registry of sex abusers never used.” Columbus Dispatch. March 19, 2014. https://www.dispatch.com/article/20140319/NEWS/303199814
“Under heavy pressure from Catholic leaders in 2006, the Ohio House removed from a Senate-passed bill a one-year window that would have allowed victims to file a lawsuit over alleged child sex abuse that had occurred as long as 35 years earlier. The window was replaced with a civil registry to contain the names of offenders if a judge found them liable in a civil judgment. In the eight years since the bill was signed into law, no sex abusers have been placed on that registry.”
It seems the civil registry is no longer enforced, though Chapter 3797 (Childhood Sexual Abuse Registration And Community Notification) is still in the Ohio Revised Code.
Violent Offender Registries (May at times be listed alongside people convicted of sex offenses)
Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry (“Zachary’s Law”)
Indiana Code 11-8-8 (http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title11/ar8/ch8.html)
See the “Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry Power Point Presentation
Includes sex crimes, murder, voluntary manslaughter, human trafficking, and criminal confinement; includes conspiracy to commit these acts; also registers individuals as young as 14
Kansas Code 22 Article 49: Kansas Offender Registration Act
Includes Murder and Manslaughter
Montana Code Title 46, Ch. 23, Part 5
“Sexual or Violent Offender Registration Act”
Included in Montana’s registry: Sex Offenders, Murder, Assaults (aggravated, against a cop, against a minor, or with a weapon), robbery, arson, assault against partner/ family member (i.e., “domestic violence”) on third conviction, and “operation of a clandestine laboratory” (i.e., meth making); includes conspiracy to commit these offenses.
Ohio — “Sierah’s Law”
Senate Bill 231 (2018)
Details: Police-only database that applies to those convicted of the following offenses after 3/20/2019: aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping and/or abduction
Oklahoma—Mary Rippy Violent Crime Offenders Registration Act
Oklahoma Code 57-591
Details: Includes murderers; assaults with a deadly weapon, firearms, or with a vehicle; assault with intent to kill, bombing; and conspiracy to commit those acts.
Ohio Revised Code, Sec. 2909.15
Effective Date: July 1, 2013
In 2012, the Governor of the State of Ohio signed into law Senate Bill 70 which enacted sections 2909.13, 2909.14, and 2909.15 of the Ohio Revised Code. With this ORC, a registry for arson offenders was established and requires arson offenders throughout the State to register personally with the Sheriff of the county in which the offender resides. According to ORC 2909.15, section F, each arson offender is required to pay a $50.00 initial registration fee and $25.00 annual re-registration fee. Those on the arson registry register annually for life unless registration time is shortened by the courts (a minimum 10 years). The arsonist registry is a law-enforcement only registry.
Pennsylvania HB 1457 “Robin’s Law” (Pending)
Note the language of the bill; Robin’s law would register “Domestic violence predators,” in which a person would be deemed a predator if “suffering from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the individual likely to engage in predatory domestic violence offenses.” Sounds EXACTLY like the Sexually Violent Predator statute!
Gun Offender Registry
Baltimore, MD Council Bill 07-0738
Registration period only lasts three years
New York, NY Chapter 10-601 “Gun Offender Registration Act”
Passed in 2003, bi-annual registration for four years
Meth Maker Registry
Illinois Meth Offender Registry (Public Act 094-0831)
Minnesota Meth Offender Registry (Governor’s Executive Order 06-09, 2006)
Tennessee (TCA 39-17-436)
Repeat Traffic Offenders
Michigan Repeat Offender Law (MCL 257.219)
This Web site allows dealers and others to verify if a vehicle purchaser can be denied registration under Michigan’s “Repeat Offender Law” (MCL 257.219). The law prohibits people whose driver’s license is suspended or revoked from buying or transferring a license plate. It also prohibits the Department of State from registering any vehicle owned, co-owned, leased, or co-leased by drivers subject to registration denial.
Missouri Child Abuse Registry
The list is private, yet had problems, including Due Process violations
Each state maintains some form of central child abuse registry for employment screening not available to the public
Michigan SB 0371 (2021) “Wyatt’s Law”
If passed, SB 0371 will create a public database of persons convicted of child abuse. Those landing on the list will be forced to register for 5 or 10 years depending on trhe severity of the charges. It will not be applied retroactively for those convicted before the effective date. As of 4/30/21, it has passed the Senate.
The Adam Walsh Act Sec. 133 calls for a national child abuse registry!
Oklahoma’s Abortion Registry!
“A new Oklahoma law will require the details of every abortion to be posted on a public website. Mothers — or would-be mothers, rather — will be prompted to answer 37 questions that range from her marital status and race to how many times she’s ever been pregnant. One question asks for the woman’s reason to abort, offering “relationship problems” as a possible check-off box, and it’s difficult to ignore the judgmental and disapproving tone.”
Even Dangerous Dogs!
(Sit, Boo Boo, Sit! No! Bad Dog! Go lay down! Go register!)
Sarasota Co., FL — http://www.sarasotasheriff.org/D_Dogs_34223.asp
Seminole Co., FL — http://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/dps/ansrvs/dangerousdogs.asp
Arlington, TX — http://www.ci.arlington.tx.us/animals/pdf/DangerousDogs.pdf
Minneapolis, MN — http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/animal-control/DangerousDogs_List.asp
AIDS Registry Debate
In 2004, Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer proposed an AIDS registry, noting how “risky behavior” is the typical origin of the disease; the proposal sparked outrage and harsh criticism. It was met with harsh criticism, of course, but in light of our view on sex offenders, an AIDS registry meets the same basic argument regarding public safety. Some of Schaefer’s comments:
- “Why shouldn’t the taxpayers who are paying millions for AIDS treatment know the names of the infected?”
- “They don’t get AIDS by standing in the wind.”
- “They bring it on themselves.”
- “A person who gives AIDS, who spreads AIDS, they’re bad people. Everybody wants to be on the good side of
everything. Well, I’m taking a stand.” (http://www.aegis.com/news/wb/2004/WB041014.html)
“Let’s put on the registry those who are known givers of AIDS, that’s all,” Schaefer said on the broadcast. Schaefer said he had met with AIDS activists Thursday to restate his views.
Minutes after the show, a small group protesting outside the statehouse compared Schaefer’s call for a AIDS registry to Nazi laws that required Jews, homosexuals and others to wear identifying marks on their clothing. The activists called for a boycott of tourism to Maryland and the purchase of Maryland products until Schaefer resigns. “The people of Maryland should not let this harmful man represent the state,” said Craig Shireman of Laytonsville.
A week ago, Del. John Adams Hurson (D-Montgomery County), who chairs the House Health and Government Operations Committee, asked Schaefer to resign. Schaefer’s earlier call for an AIDS registry was rebuffed by the Legislature a decade ago.
A primary concern was people would refuse treatment if registries were mandatory.
I just brought it up because the justifications are the same–
“They brought it upon themselves.”
“Its a public safety issue”
“They are high risk”
“They’re ‘bad’ people”
On the flip side–
“creating a climate of fear doesn’t help”
“having a registry is counterproductive”
“it gives incentives for people not to register/ seek help”
And the comparisons to the Nazi laws and pink triangles
Towards a “Risk Alone” Society
In England, the Violent and Sex Offense Register (ViSOR) also includes those jailed over 1 year on violent offenses and even un-convicted people thought to be at risk of offending (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violent_and_Sex_Offender_Register).
We are ever closer to an era where we face the possibility of placing individuals on the registry based upon risk alone, without a criminal case involved:
“Do these decisions mean that a state would be justified in compelling registration and disclosure of individuals whose health status alone arguably created either current or future risk?” (Brian Kamoie et al., “‘Megan’s Laws’ and the US Constitution; Implications for Public Health Policy and Practice. Public Health Reports, July-Aug. 2003, Vol. 118. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/picrender.fcgi?artid=1497568&blobtype=pdf)
So what is next? We have registries for almost every crime, a registry for people accused but not convicted, and at least on registry for those who never offended in the first place but they MIGHT. So what’s next? Maybe we’ll ultimately screen everyone with a battery of tests like the penile plethysmograph and polygraphs as was proposed in 2007 (http://nomorevictimsact.blogspot.com/). Punishment based upon risk alone is a very scary concept, especially given the common characteristics of sex offenders as listed in actuarial tests for sex offenders. For example, if you are under age 25, single, if you’ve ever been arrested for anything, if you’ve ever been depressed, or if you’ve ever abused drugs or alcohol at any point in your life, you already have risk factors for sexual recidivism as noted by such actuarial tests as the Static-99 and SORAG. If current trends continue, it is only a matter of time before we punish all people on risk alone.
Below are two links to Connecticut State Legislature. Notice how the same arguments to justify sex offender
registries have been used to justify creating more registries for other offenders;
http://www.cga.ct.gov/2006/rpt/2006-R-0071.htm — Argument in support of registries
http://www.cga.ct.gov/2007/JFR/S/2007SB-00708-R00PS-JFR.htm — Statements made supporting new CT non-sex offender registry