The Once Fallen “Sex Offense Terminology”
Derek W. Logue
Last update: 3 May 2021
The purpose of this dictionary is to help the reader gain a clearer understanding of the terms used in articles, studies, or comments related to sex offense legal issues, whether used on this site or elsewhere. Keep in mind that “common usage” words are not always accurate uses of the term, and misnomers are addressed in the definitions given here. This glossary is not all-inclusive nor given phonetic attention as you would see in Miriam-Webster’s.
As noted on the main page, the term “sex offender” has been deemed a derogatory term; the preferred vernacular among Anti-Registry Movement activists are Registered Citizen (RC), Registered Person (RP), Registrant, or Person Forced to Register.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
ACSOL: Shorthand for “Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws”
Actuarial Tests: Tests used in risk assessments; virtually all actuarial tests look at “static” or unchanging factors in determining whether or not someone is likely to re-offend
Adam Walsh Act (AWA): Controversial law passed in 2006 setting a nationwide minimum standard for the public sex offense registry, mandatory minimums, civil commitment, GPS programs, increasing federal jurisdiction, and federal funding to monitoring and tracking sex offenders
Age of Consent: The age in years at which a person can legally consent to sexual activity. Currently, most states set the age of consent at 16 to 18, though there is a movement to set the age of consent universally at age 18 (or possibly higher)
Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws (ACSOL): A California-based group who only believes in reforming the registry and only works on California laws.
Anti-clustering laws: Laws that limit the amount of registrants residing within a single building or geographical location, such as zip code.
Anti-loitering laws: Laws that prevent registrants from loitering in one location; “loitering” standards vary from being at a location beyond a reasonable time or not serving a legitimate purpose to simply being within the set buffer zone at any time
Anti-Registry Movement (ARM): A term used at times for the effort to reform/ repeal the registry. Like “Black Lives Matter” or “#MeToo”, ARM is intended to be used as the name of a movement rather than the name of any specific group.
“Antis:” Online identifier for individuals who attack, harass, and threaten registrants online; generally members of certain fringe groups, hate groups, and/or cults
ARM: Shoerhand for “Anti-Registry Movement”
AWA: Shorthand for “Adam Walsh Act”
“Big Registry:” Term much like Big Oil and Big Tobacco in describing the current state of sexoffender legislation, i.e., backed by powerful lobbyists, a misinformation campaign to justify the need for and safety concerns of the product, and the massive amount of money spent on the product
“Bookville:” Name given to homeless camp under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami, Florida, named for controversial South Florida lobbyist Ronald Lee Book, who lobbied for strict residency laws which led to Miami being virtually off-limits for registrants, and head of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. The camp existed from 2007 to 2010 and was an international embarrassment. Sometimes, subsequent homeless registrant camps have been labeled as Bookville camp “sequels”
Buffer Zones: A set distance around specific geographical locations, such as a school or park, where registrants are not allowed to reside and/ or loiter; distances are typically measured from property line to property line “as the crow flies” (a straight line)
Castration: The process of reducing the sex drive either by removal of the sex organs (surgical) or by use of chemicals that interfere with the functions of the sex organs (chemical). Castration is very controversial and can cause serious health problems, but is also reversible for the most part
Chemical castration: The practice of using certain chemicals (such as Depo-Provera) to interfere with the normal functions of sex organs, thus greatly reducing overall sex drive. Effects tend to last as long as the treatment is continued. Most states that have castration laws utilize this method.
Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS): A controversial and generally rejected actuarial test (as unable to pass the Frye test), developed by Roland Summit in the 1980s, that claims to be able to identify children who are sexually abused
Child Victim Advocate: Typically synonymous with victim’s rights groups, these individuals lobby for laws regarding the rights of victims and the punishment and monitoring of those convicted of sex crimes
Circles of Support and Accountability: A network formed to help released registrants establish healthy post-release goals while assisting the registrant in the rehabilitation process.
Civil Commitment: The practice of incarcerating an individual in a clinical inpatient treatment facility due to a high risk the individual will commit a crime in the future. The controversy over the practice generally involves the practice of sending individuals for treatment beyond their prison sentences in an effort to extend incapacitation
“Civil in nature:” The common argument that states sex offender laws are “regulatory” or “civil” rather than “punitive” or “punishment/ criminal” in nature
Clustering: The natural effect of laws and practices that limit where registrants can live, where law-abiding registrants reside in the few remaining locations they are legally allowed to live, thus concentrating in a select few locations
Community Notification: The practice of sending out notices to the community whenever a registrant moves into a community; practices can vary from simple postcards in the mail to door-to-door visits from law enforcement, and could be limited to “high-risk” sex offenders; usually synonymous with Megan’s Law/ the public registry
Constitution: A legendary document said to contain laws that include protection of civil and human rights, but seemingly inapplicable to those convicted of sex crimes
“Convicted Pedophile”: An incredibly offensive and erroneous slang term for someone convicted of any sex offense, but particularly any offense against a minor. This term is inaccurate since pedophilia is a clinical term, not a criminal offense; not everyone convicted of a sex offense is a clinically diagnosed pedophile, and not every clinically diagnosed pedophile has been convicted of a crime. Thus, there is no such thing as a “convicted pedophile” and the term only exists to elicit animus towards Registered Persons.
COPA (Child Online Protection Act): Controversial law requiring internet providers to block suspected child porn sites and provide filtering software; uses “harmful to minors” standard for determining what is banned
COSA: See Circles of Support and Accountability
Cyber-stalking: The practice of using the Internet to harass, threaten, or intimidate another person
Double Jeopardy: The Fifth Amendment concept that states a person cannot be tried for the same offense twice
Double Standards: Term describing the fact that the practice of prosecuting, processing, and punishing sex offenses is unequally applied to certain groups, particularly males, while certain groups, like attractive females or politicians, receive little to no punishment for the same offense
Due Process: Legal term (14th Amendment) that states a person cannot be punished without a definitive legal process (trial); the entitlement of a citizen to proper legal procedures and natural justice
“Duke Lacrosse case:” Infamous 2006 case of malicious prosecution which ended in all three defendants found not guilty and the disbarment of the chief prosecutor (See “Nifonged”)
Electronic Monitoring (EM): See “GPS”
Entrapment: A legal term, an act of setting a person up to commit a crime in order to prosecute them. Often used when referring to online sting operations.
Evidence Based Research (EBR): Statistics and evidence based upon proven facts, as opposed to personal opinions, biases, or prejudices
Ex post facto: Latin for “after the fact,” the constitutional standard that states actions cannot be criminalized then applied to those committed who committed such acts before the act was criminalized
FAC: Acronym for Florida Action Committee, one of the largest state-focused anti-registry groups.
Failure to Register: A criminal charge arising from the failure of the registrant to meet the standards of sex offender registration; this is a broad term that could include such acts as being unable to pay fines associated with registration or being homeless
False Allegations: The act of making a false accusation for a crime; sadly, false allegations are common and rarely prosecuted
False Memory Syndrome (FMS): A condition in which a person’s identity and interpersonal relationships center on a memory of a traumatic experience that is objectively false but that the person strongly believes occurred. Most often seen in cases of “recovered memories”, primarily as it relates to allegations of childhood abuse.
Fixated Offender: An offender type that has a sexual preference for children, synonymous with pedophile, and the type most likely to re-offend; fixated offenders make up only a small number of the sex offender population Frye Test: Test to determine validity of scientific tests, such as polygraph examinations; standard is“generally accepted by the scientific community as valid”
“Frightening and High”: An erroneous and often debunked statement used by former SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy claiming those convicted of sexual offenses have a particularly high rate of reoffense, yet continues to be cited in court ruling upholding sex offense laws.
GPS: Devices that utilizes satellites or towers to read signals from electronic ankle bracelets worn by registrants for the purposes of monitoring movement; there are two types of devices: active, which sends out frequent signals, and passive, which sends daily logs of activities
Habitual Offender: An individual who commits multiple crimes
Halloween Restrictions: Laws that restrict activities and participation of registrants in Halloween practices including giving out candy or wearing masks
“Halloweenitis:” The social fear that strikes people during the Halloween season, which includes urban legends of sex offenders attacking would-be trick-or-treaters
“Harmful To Minors:” material judged by “contemporary community standards” as appealing to the “prurient interest” and showed sex acts or nudity; much broader definition than the “obscenity” standard
“Hug-a-thug:” Derogatory expression applied those who advocate treatment or restoration programs for convicted criminals
IML: Shorthand for “International Megan’s Law.”
Incest: The act of an individual having sexual relations with a close relative. Those who have committed incest crimes are generally determined to be the least likely to re-offend
International Megan’s Law (IML): A law passed in 2016 requiring 21 days advance notice when a registered person travels outside the US, and places a mark of infamy on the passports of registered persons with offenses against minors.
Internet Solicitation: The crime of obtaining illicit sex or engaging in sexual communications through electronic communications
Jacob Wetterling Act: 1994 Federal bill creating a national sex offender database, which was limited to law enforcement or those who worked directly with children
“Jessica’s Law:” Other name for mandatory minimum sentencing bill
Julia Tuttle Causeway: See “Bookville”
KIDS Act of 2008: Federal bill requiring registrants to register all online identifiers, such as email addresses and screen names
LEA: Law Enforcement Agent, similar to LEO but less often used.
LEO: Law Enforcement Officer, a catch-all phrase for any law enforcement agent, whether local, state, or federal authority. Sometimes referred to (derisively) as “Uncle Leo.”
Levels: See “Tiers”
Lolita: Named for the book of the same name, denotes an underage girl who aggressively pursues sexual activity with significantly older males
Mandatory Minimums: A set minimum time in which a person is incarcerated for specific crimes
Mandatory Reporting Requirement: The requirement that agencies that work with children report suspected abuse; also refers to the requirement all registrants register with local law enforcement in a timely manner
MAP: An acronym meaning “Minor Attracted Person” i.e., a person who identifies as being attracted to children
Marsy’s Law: A controversial law that grants rights to victims at the outset of criminal proceedings, giving victims a say in the process before a crime has been established or a person convicted. If someone is presumed to be the victim of a crime before a jury returns a verdict, then the accused is presumed guilty, not innocent.
MASORR (Multifactorial Assessment of Sex Offender Risk for Recidivism): Individual ratings of 1 to 5 are initially assessed, and a separate score is assessed after treatment, measuring motivation to participate in treatment, degree of change achieved, and impressions made upon the treatment provider. The test scores are combined to determine risk
Malicious Prosecution: The act in which a prosecuting attorney pursues a case out of malice, often manipulating available evidence or withholding evidence of the innocence of the accused; see “Nifonged”
“Megan’s Law:” Short name for the 1996 bill that created public sex offender registries coupled with community notification procedures. Despite being technically replaced by the AWA on the federal level and most states not referring to the registry as “Megan’s Law”, the term is generally used to descrive registration and notification laws.
Mendoza-Martinez Factors: A set of seven factors in determining whether or not a law is civil/regulatory or criminal/punitive in nature, which in turn determines whether or not constitutional arguments can be made. The test is commonly used during challenges to sex offense laws.
Miller test: Court standard to determine obscenity, and thus whether or not certain speech is protected by the US Constitution
Minor-Attracted Person (MAP): Minor Attracted Person, i.e., a person who identifies as being attracted to children
MiSOST-R (Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool-Revised): An actuarial test that uses 16 factors, 12 historical factors (like prior sex offenses) and 4 institutional factors (such as cooperation with prison sex offense treatment). This test is unique in not taking related or “incest” victims into consideration in scoring. Total scores of -10 to +30 determines risk on a scale of 1 (low) to 6 (high)
National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws (NARSOL): Arguably the largest of the groups fighting to reform registry laws, currently headquartered in North Carolina.
“Nifonged:” Term used to denote a prosecutor in a malicious prosecution case; named for Mike Nifong, prosecutor in the so-called “Duke Lacrosse case”
NOMAP: An acronym meaning “Non-Offending Minor Attracted Person”, i.e., a person identifying as attracted to children yet makes a conscientious decision not to engage in any illegal activity.
“Normalizing Pedophilia”: An offensive term, generally used in ad hominem criticism of activism against sex offense registrants; it is an accusation that a particular action is intended to compel people to accept pedophilia as a sexual orientation.
NSOPW: The “Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Registry Public Website”. Technically, the feds don’t run their own registries; this site merely bands together data from the registries of every US state and territory to allow registry searches for all states and territories. Registrants not listed publicly on a state website will not be listed public on NSOPW’s database as this database only extrapolates public listings from states/ territories.
Offense-based classification: Classifying registrants into tier levels based upon the details of the crime rather than perceived risk; the Adam Walsh Act is one such law which utilizes offense-based classification
“On Paper”: Slang for being on probation, parole, supervised release, community control/ corrections, or any similar term, not to be confused with the requirements to register.
Pandering: Political term for misusing or abusing an issue for the purpose of generating votes or publicity
Pedophile: A clinical term for a person who has a persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent children for a set period of time; the common and derogatory usage denoting everyone who is on the sex offender registry is a misnomer and fallacy, as only a small minority of registrants are clinical pedophiles
Penile Plethysmograph: Also known as “peter readers;” devices that measure blood flow to the penis under the theory minute changes in erections mean those tested have degrees of sexual attraction towards the objects shown; these devices are generally rejected by courts for failure to pass scientific validity tests
Pervert: Derogatory term for individuals listed on the public registry
“Peter Meter”: Derisive term for the Penile Plethysmograph.
Polygraph (“polys”): So-called “lie detector” test; device that measures changes in heart rates and other bodily functions that measures increased stress levels in the body some believe identifies when one is lying; not accepted as valid by the courts, yet are utilized in many sex offender treatment programs
PPG: See “Penile Plethysmograph”
Predator: Derogatory term for individuals listed on the public registry, intended to note someone who has a history of repeat or violent offenses
Predator Panic: Coined term to denote a societal fear fueled by myths of those listed on the sex offender registry
Presence Restrictions: Laws that prohibit registrants from either “loitering” (being somewhere without a legitimate purpose) or “being present” (being in prohibited area for ANY reason) within a prescribed distance from a restricted area (sometimes called a “child safety zone”). It is important to understand “loitering” and “being present” have different meanings when used in this context. If a state statute uses “loitering,” then the state recognizes there are valid reasons why someone would be in a safety zone, such as work, conducting business, or simply enjoying your freedom. If they use the term “being present” without the term loiter, they may consider all reasons for being within a safety zone invalid and arrest you; this would also impact residency or employment.
Professional Victim: An individual who uses the victim narrative to establish a career and/or uses that status as a shield against criticism. Florida Senator Lauren Book is a living example of this definition.
Propaganda: Information spread in a manner to instill a particular set of beliefs upon to all that receive the message
Proximity Laws: An occasionally used term describing residency restrictions or anti-loitering laws
Public Safety: Legal term denoting certain laws are created and enforced in order to protect society as a whole, as opposed to individual safety
Punitive: Another term for punishment, generally used to describe the sanctions imposed in criminal law; punitive measures are subject to constitutional scrutiny
Recidivism: The rate at which a person convicted of a crime commits a subsequent crime of any type within a set period of time which varies by study. Recidivism is measured in a variety of ways, from re-arrest rates to re-conviction rates. In the past, recidivism could be general (any crime type) or sex-specific (specifically sex crime charges); while most modern researchers may use “reoffense” to denote sex-specific recidivism, most media outlets and independent activists still use “recidivism” to describe sex-specific recidivism rates.
Reformed Former Sex Offender (RFSO): Those listed on the public registry that claim victory over sexual addiction and refuse to accept the lifelong stigma of being a “registered sex offender”
Registered Citizen (RC): A person listed on the public sex offense registry
Registered Person (RP): A person listed on the public sex offense registry
Registered Sex Offender (RSO): A person listed on the public sex offense registry
Registrant: A person listed on the public sex offense registry
Regulatory: Legal term denoting the effects of civil laws; term often applied to sex offender legislation; regulatory measures are claimed to not be covered by the US Constitution
Rehabilitation: The effective process of treating the afflictions of individuals, teaching them to control and manage their deficiencies, and become productive citizens
Relapse Prevention: A technique in the treatment of sex offenders teaching techniques to avert deviant sexual thought patterns
Reoffense: The act of committing a subsequent offense of the same type for which you were previously convicted. While generally used interchangeably, reoffense is used to differentiate between sex specific arrests/convictions and arrests/ convictions for any offense.
Residency Restrictions: Laws that restrict where a person convicted of a sex crime can live, usually a set distance from certain child-oriented locations, such as schools, daycare centers, or parks, a straight-line “as the crow flies” distance of up to 2500 feet, measured from property line to property line
Restorative Justice: A school of sex offender treatment that emphasizes the restoration of offenders through teaching victim empathy and acts of atonement for past deeds
Retroactive: The legal term for applying a law to cover actions that occurred before the law was enacted; generally prohibited by the US Constitution
“Risk Alone:” The concept of targeting people on the sole basis that they pose a perceived risk of a particular behavior
Risk-Based Classification: The classifying of registrants into tier levels based upon perceived risk via clinical evaluation and may include a battery of actuarial testing
Romeo and Juliet: Named for the famous Shakespeare play involving young lovers; A term used to describe a consensual relationship between teens with a significant age difference; the Adam Walsh Act has a “Romeo and Juliet” statute that places a four year age difference between teen lovers for the purposes of determining criminal sexual activity
RSOL: Reform Sex Offender Laws, the former name of the current National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws.
Scarlet Letter: Named for the Nathaniel Hawthorne book of the same name, denotes any technique utilized for public shaming, such as a publicly accessible registry, identifying ID cards, signs, bumper stickers, licenses, or other identifying mark to name and shame those convicted of sex crimes
SCOTUS: The Supreme Court Of The United States, a recent acronym for the US Supreme Court created by internet culture since SCOTUS is just quicker to type than US Supreme Court and the US Sentencing Commission already uses the acronym USSC.
Sensationalism: A media term referring to the over-saturation of a news story. As a rule of thumb, missing child or sex offender stories will typically become “sensationalized”
Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA): The provision in the Adam Walsh Act that regulates the national public registry and sets minimum standards for other states to follow
Sexting: The act of sending sexual images or messages by cell phone or instant messaging services
Sexual Assault Cycle: A pattern of faulty behaviors and beliefs that perpetuate a cycle of sexual addiction; those in treatment programs use the cycles to understand their reasons for committing sexually deviant acts
“Sexual Predator:” Generalized and often derogatory term for a registrant perceived to be high- risk
“Sexually Violent Predator:” Same as “sexual predator,” with the term “violent” added to make it sound more ominous
Shelter Laws: Laws that restrict registrants from using homeless shelters or emergency shelters during times of inclement weather
Situational Offender: Offender type not attracted to children, though some have committed crimes against children; situational offenders are not pedophiles, and are more responsive to treatment programs; situational offenders make up the majority of sex offenders
SMART: Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking, the federal bureaucracy established to promote the adoption of the AWA (through a dubious information campaign) and issue grant money to assist in AWA implementation
“Smart On Crime”: A call for criminal justice reform to make the system more narrowly focused on the small number of real threats; oftentimes, this call is heavily misguided and misused.
SO: Shorthand for “sex offender”
SORAG (Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide): An “actuarial test” that looks at 14 items, 10 of those similar to the VRAG, and scores test from -27 to +51 and falling into a similar scale of 1 (low) to 9 (high)
SORA (Sex Offense Registry Act): another term commonly used by a number of states to denote their state registry laws.
SORNA: This acronym is specifically used in this book to refer to Section 1 of the Adam Walsh Act (AWA), called the “Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act,” which applies to the public registry. Since the registry and community notification are generally applied together, this may be commonly used throughout this book and elsewhere, though this is specific to the federal law. This replaced the 1996 federal Megan’s Law. Registrants are classified under SORNA according to the official charges (“offense-based” classification”).
SOSEN: SO Solutions and Education Network, an online support forum and information repository for registered citizens. Headquartered in Nebraska.
STATIC-99: Arguably the most widely used actuarial test, the STATIC-99 looks at 10 risk factors including the 4 RRASOR factors, scores range from 0 to 12, with a score of 6+ considered high risk.
Static Factors: In Actuarial testing, factors that tend not to change over time, such as age of offender when crime was committed
Stereotypes: Generalized beliefs about a group of people, usually derogatory in nature
“Stranger-Danger:” The emphasizing of warning and preventing sex crimes committed by those people not known to the victim, once popular, but is increasingly debunked even by most child victim advocates
“Substantially AWA Compliant”: When discussing “Substantial AWA compliance” as a measurement for implementing the AWA in a state/territory, this refers specifically to the SORNA section of the AWA. (Note that some states may use similar acronyms but in this book, SORNA will be used only to discuss the federal AWA law.) The SMART Office created a 14-point checklist to compare with state laws, and if the laws of that state meet all the minimum criteria contained in that checklist, the state is considered “substantially compliant.” (Important note on AWA compliance: The AWA requires retroactive application of registration if you are reconvicted of any crime, including non-sex offenses, if you have a sex offense in your history. So, if you do not have to register because your offense predated the registry in your state, or received a pardon or other registry relief, and you were later convicted for any offense, the AWA demands you register. In non-AWA states, you may not have to register under this scenario.)
Surgical castration: Physical Castration by cutting off or separating sex organs
Syndrome evidence: indicators of child sexual abuse as defined in the CSAAS (Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome)
Tier System: A classification system utilized by many states that divides registrants into separate categories, either by perceived risk (risk-based) or by the details of the crime (offense-based). Not all states utilize a tier system.
“Tough on crime:” The common mantra for pandering politicians who use sex offender issues to generate campaign interest and votes
Treatment: The process of helping offenders manage and overcome the issues which cause sexual offending, and teach them to become healthy and productive citizens in the community
Trolls: Internet term for individuals or members of particular groups that attack, harass, defame, impersonate, slander, or threaten others who do not share their opinions, typically done in a cowardly anonymous fashion
“Unintended Consequences:” A somewhat overused term, mainly utilized by proponents of sex offender legislation as an excuse, denoting the negative effects of hastily and ill-proposed legislation and claiming they simply did not know the laws would cause negative effects
USSC: United States Sentencing Commission.
Victim Cult: The set of religion-like beliefs held by victims’ rights groups that proclaim victim status is an exhalted status and that victims should be held blameless for their actions even when these actions are malicious and harmful.
Victim Industry: A collection of business that exploit abuse victims for personal profit and power.
Victim’s Rights Groups: Synonymous term for “child victim advocate,” typically denoting groups that support increasing sex crime legislation
Vigilantism: The act of harassing, intimidating, threatening, and/ or attacking people because of the target’s appearance on the registry
“Violent” offense: For purposes of determining tier levels, violence means either there was physical force used in the crime, or the crime involved a minor. By letter of the law, even acts where the minor was willing (but unable to legally consent to sex) are considered “violent”
VRAG (Violence Risk Appraisal Guide): An “actuarial test” that looks at 12 static factors and scores test from -26 to +38, falling into a risk scale from 1 (low) to 9 (high)
WAR: Women Against Registry, one of the national anti-registry groups; despite the name, men are also welcome to join the ranks. Headquartered in Missouri.
290: A Registered Person in California; short for the California Penal Code Secion 290, which covers the public registry