“Sex Offenders”: The New Second Class Citizens
Derek W. Logue
March 28, 2012
“If the constitutional conception of ‘equal protection of the laws’ means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare…desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest…” — From Romer v. Evans, 517 US 620 (1996)
When Patty Wetterling first advocated a nationwide registry of convicted sex offenders back in 1990, she was told that sex offenders have rights . Twenty years later, the public sentiment has done an about face and it seems no deprivation of human rights are wrong when applied to registered citizens. A Louisiana state representative made the following comment with reporters after the session had passed 14 sex offender laws in a month:
”Is there anything left we can do to sex offenders with a few days left in the session ?”
The reporter claimed it was a “joke,” but that quote illustrates a growing problem with Predator Panic—sex offender laws have created a degraded class in America. This particular article covers instances of sex offenders degraded by laws and some of the rationale behind this alarming trend.
CREATING A SECOND CLASS
In the 2006 book “Failure to Protect,” author Eric S. Janus warns the current wave of sex offender laws resurrect the notion of the “degraded other,” reversing the anti-discrimination trend from the civil rights era. The concept of “risk” is used as justification for placing sex offenders in a “reduced rights zone .” The fact is registered persons are the modern day lepers, but only recently have the courts been bold enough to admit in recent years that sex offenders are officially a “degraded class.”
In an appeal of a lawsuit filed against Ohio in 2008, Ohio’s 1st Appellate Court judge Sylvia Hendon boldly stated in her opinion that sex offenders are a degraded class:
“By their voluntary acts, sex offenders have surrendered certain protections that arguably are afforded to other citizens. Their conviction of felony offenses puts them into a class that has already been deemed to have no expectation of finality in the consequences of the judgments against them … The fact that Sewell belongs to a class that has voluntarily surrendered certain protections and rights makes the conclusion that Senate Bill 10‟s tier-classification and registration requirements are constitutional even more certain .”
In ruling on a case where a low level registrant was serving as coach of a youth baseball team, Illinois 16th Judicial District court Judge Jordan T. Gallagher sentences the man to electronic home monitoring, 24 months of a specialized probation for sex offenders and ordered him to re-enroll in a counseling program that he participated in following his original arrest. He was also ordered to undergo a new psychiatric evaluation, despite evaluations showing the registrant has no attraction to boys. In reading his ruling, Gallagher gives us this comment:
“You are a sex offender and there are rules, and whether you like them or not, you’ve got to follow them. You’re a second-class citizen and will be for the rest of your life .”
In 2012, the Missouri Legislature introduced House Joint Resolution 83, which proposes excluding laws targeting sex offenders from the state Constitution ban on ex post facto laws:
“Submitting to the qualified voters of Missouri an amendment repealing section 13 of article I of the Constitution of Missouri, and adopting one new section in lieu thereof relating to laws retrospective in operation.
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring therein:
That at the next general election to be held in the state of Missouri, on Tuesday next following the first Monday in November, 2012, or at a special election to be called by the governor for that purpose, there is hereby submitted to the qualified voters of this state, for adoption or rejection, the following amendment to article I of the Constitution of the state of Missouri:
Section A. Section 13, article I, Constitution of Missouri, is repealed and one new section adopted in lieu thereof, to be known as section 13, to read as follows:
Section 13. That no ex post facto law, nor law impairing the obligation of contracts, or retrospective in its operation, or making any irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities, can be enacted; however, a law may be retrospective in its operation with respect to a new obligation, duty, or disability imposed upon sex offenders .”
Now we have clear, documented proof registrants are a degraded, lower class of citizens in America. It is contrary to our very basic concepts of equality in the USA.
Some who read this report may be asking, “What’s the big deal?” This is the consequence of a phenomenon known as “dehumanization.” Philip Zimbardo, author of “The Lucifer Effect” and famous for his “Stanford Prison Experiment,” describes the process of dehumanization:
“At the core of evil is the process of dehumanization by which certain other people or collectives of them, are depicted as less than human, as non-comparable in humanity or personal dignity to those who do the labeling. Prejudice employs negative stereotypes in images or verbally abusive terms to demean and degrade the objects of its narrow view of superiority over these allegedly inferior persons. Discrimination involves the actions taken against those others based on the beliefs and emotions generated by prejudiced perspectives .”
In 2006, I wrote my first full length article for the sex offender legal reform movement, entitled, “The Fourth Reich: Sex Offender Laws as a Prototype for the Holocaust .” At the time, other activists were reluctant to draw the similarities between the events of Nazi Germany and similar occurrences in 21st Century America. But the parallels with Nazism are consistently used for many atrocities from Abu Gharib to American racism practices to attacks against homosexuals to abortion  because there is a glaring common theme in every atrocity, and it begins with the process of dehumanization.
Zimbardo artfully summarizes Nazi propaganda in the following paragraphs:
“The originator of this idea was Julius Streicher, the editor of a weekly newspaper, Das Sturmer, “The Storm Troope,” that spread anti-Semitic propaganda to the general public in Germany…. Streicher sought to create a perception of Jews as a sub-human race that was a threat to the national state of Germany. The idea was for this total indoctrination of these beliefs in the minds of the young and the old to such an extent that they came to have a conviction about the inferiority of Jews and the need to eliminate the threat they posed to the purity and superiority of the Aryan race.
“The use of stereotyped conceptions of Jews as lecherous old men seducing young Aryan women, of dirty Jewish butchers, unscrupulous Jewish lawyers, hard-hearted Jewish landlords, rich Jewish business men and their wives ignoring the poverty around them, all combined to create a hate-filled image of Jews. In one of these comic books, after providing such “evidence” of the despicable nature of Jews, three conclusions are provided: kicking their children out of German schools, prohibiting them from using public facilities, like parks, and then expelling them from the country. Those ‘reasonable’ consequences that Nazis should create for Jews foreshadows the more sinister ones of putting them all in ghettoes, then transporting them to concentration camps, and finally enacting the ‘final solution’ of attempting mass genocide of the entire Jewish population .”
In America, sex offenders have fallen under the same stereotyping over the years. The stereotype of the sex offender of the dirty old man in the wrinkled trench coat is at least as old as the post-WWII era:
“Especially during the 1950s and 1960s the primary focus in the limited literature and discussions of the sexual victimization of children was on ‘stranger danger’ — the dirty old man in the wrinkled raincoat approaching an innocent child at play… During this time the FBI distributed a poster epitomizing this attitude. It showed a man, with his hat pulled down, lurking behind a tree with a bag of candy in his hands. He was waiting for a sweet little girl walking home from school alone. At the top it read, “Boys and Girls, color the page, memorize the rules.’ At the bottom it read, ‘For your protection, remember to turn down gifts from strangers, and refuse rides offered by strangers.’ The poster clearly contrasts the evil of the offender with the goodness of the child victim. When confronted with such an offender the advice to the child is simple and clear — say no, yell, and tell. The myth of the typical child molester as the dirty old man in the wrinkled raincoat has been reevaluated based on what we have learned about the kinds of people who sexually victimize children. The fact is child molesters can look like anyone else and even be someone we know and like. In my opinion, however, the growing preference today to refer to sex offenders against children as predators has mitigated this recognition and progress .”
INFLUENCE OF DEHUMANIZATION
The impact of dehumanization of sex offenders is prevalent in our society. In a survey of both registered citizens and the general public, both groups greatly overestimated stranger danger, risk of recidivism, and ineffectiveness of treatment. However, the offender sample estimated far closer to the reality than the general public sample. For example, the public estimated the chances of a “child molester” re-offending at 76%, the offender group estimated 27%, and the Hanson and Harris 15-year recidivism study quoted 13%. “Overall, the results of this study supported the hypotheses and highlighted that the public subscribes to popular myths about sex offenders. We found that both the general public and sex offenders are generally misinformed on the topic of sexual abuse. As hypothesized, the public tended to display more grossly exaggerated disparities from the research data .”
Media focus on sex offenders has risen dramatically in the years since Megan’s Law was introduced to the US. One study determined through LexisNexis that the number of all news stories with the term “sex offender” or “sexual predator” in the headline, lead paragraph or terms in U.S. newspapers increased from 107 in 1991 to 5,006 (a factor of almost 50) in 2006, and the number of all news stories with the term “sexual predator” in the headline have also increased substantially, growing from 536 to 15,558 (or thirty times) in 2006. By contrast, rape rates declined between 1990 and 2005. Self-reports of rape decreased from 1.7 per 1000 individuals 12 and over to .5 per 1000 (a decrease of over 30%), and reported instances of forcible rape decreased from 41.2 per 100,000 individuals of all ages to 31.7, a decrease of over 25%. Child sexual abuse decreased from 2.3 per 1,000 children to 1.2 (a decrease of almost 50%)
between 1991 and 2003 .
You don’t need a study to understand just what kinds of sex crimes the media covers. All I have to do is say names like Adam Walsh or Jessica Lunsford. Shows like Nancy Grace have made careers from covering child abuse cases. As a result, the public perceptions of sex crimes and the risk posed by those on the public registries have been grossly exaggerated, and this fear is used to justify increasingly draconian sex offender laws.
FORGET THE N-WORD, NOW IT’S THE P-WORD
The terms “pedophile,” “pervert,” “predator,” and “sex offender” are grossly misused in today’s society. Thus, people know it can be used as a weapon against an enemy. In 2009, a couple involved in a one-night stand sought revenge by creating fake registry fliers claiming her target was on the state sex offender registry for raping a five-year-old girl:
“The bright orange fliers bore an exact copy of the apartment complex’s logo and included half a dozen names of offenders who are really on the sex offender registry, complete with the distance of their residence from the apartment complex, just as the state’s sex offender registry Web site lists them. ‘Whoever did this is going to be damn lucky if they don’t get sued,’ Draper said early on in the investigation. ‘There is a criminal defamation charge in the state code that makes this a class B misdemeanor, up to six months in jail, for disseminating info known to be false and knowing it will expose the subject to ‘hatred, contempt or ridicule,’ is how it reads .”
Another strange case of using sex offenders as weapons came in the form of letters to sex offenders bearing the name of a Montana worker’s compensation lawyer. The flier claimed the lawyer was a member of various non-existent victim’s rights groups and made threatening and derogatory remarks towards the registrants who received the letters .
The media is usually the primary culprit in exploiting Predator Panic. When a young girl was killed by a babysitter in Indiana, the media’s focus was on the 14 registrants living in the same trailer park, not the actual killer, who had no prior sex offense record . The news made it a point to let everyone know the father of a missing California teenager is on the registry, despite not being a suspect or person of interest . This begs the question: why bring up people not involved with a criminal case in the first place? The answer is simple—”sex offenders” sell.
Politicians understand the ramifications of the term since many have exploited sex offender hysteria to establish or further their political careers. Now, politicians have found a new way to use sex offenders to further their political careers—by claiming their opponents are pro-sex offender:
“A Cornerstone Action mailer sent to voters this week tries to link Gov. John Lynch to sex offenders granted an early exit from prison under legislation reforming the state’s parole system. ‘Introducing Team Lynch,’ the flier reads, above a smiling photo of Lynch flanked by mug shots of four men who were granted parole a month ago, before they had reached their maximum prison sentences… Smith defended the mailer. ‘The fact of the matter is that . . . if (Lynch) didn’t sign S.B. 500 into law, those folks wouldn’t have been released nine months early,’ he said. The law, known by its bill number as S.B. 500, was passed by the Legislature earlier this year with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Lynch. Among other things, it requires that inmates be paroled nine months before reaching their maximum prison sentences and be intensively supervised .”
This behavior is growing in popularity:
“State Rep. Ron Wait responded Tuesday to a Democratic campaign mailer accusing him of siding with sex offenders. Wait, R-Belvidere, called the mailer, which went to homes in the 69th district, a misleading, negative attack… The mailer, paid for by the Democratic Party of Illinois, is printed on a yellow oversized postcard and features a Monopoly- like character in a prison jumpsuit. It reads ‘Ron Wait’s Get Out of Jail Free Card: This card may be kept by accused sex offenders until needed.’ The card rehashes Wait’s actions in May 2005, when he paid $500 to bail Joshua Munch, then 22, out of jail. Munch was accused of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a 13-year-old girl .”
Political smear ads are not limited to politicians. Special interest groups, such as police unions, have used sex offenders to promote their own candidates or attack opponents. Omaha’s police union came under fire for sending out political fliers attacking two candidates, claiming their policies prevented them from managing “high-risk” offenders. Five of the fifteen people on the flier were not missing at all .
THE NEW SEGREGATION
“Predator laws, in short, ascribe group risk to the individual.” – Eric S. Janus, “Failure to Protect,” page 102
Many laws targeting sex offenders are blanket provisions that have a segregation effect not unlike Sundown Towns or the “whites only” signs of the pre-civil rights era.
Many states like Illinois  and Louisiana  have passed blanket social networking and internet website bans. In addition, Facebook instituted its own policy prohibiting registrants from having Facebook accounts . Louisiana’s social networking ban was recently struck down as unconstitutional, but Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is proposing new legislation in an attempt to override the bill .
The US legislature in recent years has passed legislation against sex offenders that have no bearing on preventing future crimes. When Congress passed the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, it contained a provision banning registrants with minor victims from obtaining small business loans . That same year, Congress also introduced HR-5618, the Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2010, which included language barring registrants from obtaining an extension of unemployment benefits, but was thankfully rejected in favor of a similar bill without the anti-registrant provision . The FHA Reform Act of 2010 would have denied FHA loans to registrants with minor victims , but it seems this bill stalled in legislation; however it may be revived in the future. For years, HUD has denied Section 8 housing to registrants with “lifetime registration requirements ,” an issue surely exacerbated by the passage of the Adam Walsh Act.
About 30 states have some form of law barring registrants from living within a certain distance from certain places like schools and day care centers, but the city of Wapello, Iowa took it a step further by posting signs around the city proclaiming “pedophile-free zones” in the area . The signs are very reminiscent of signs once used by “Sundown Towns” reminding other undesirable groups they were unwelcome in the city. However, no story on residency laws can top the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami, Florida, where upwards of 100 registrants were forced to live under a bridge before the camp was dismantled in 2010. However, the homeless camp was simply moved to other parts of the city and is making headlines again . The city of Cypress in Orange County, California approved a 2000 foot ban from living near schools and city parks, which would force registrants moving into the city to the northwest corridor by a cemetery (a “sex offender ghetto”). In addition, registrants cannot be within 500 feet of restricted zones for any reason, going beyond mere anti-loitering laws . One Minnesota town spent three years trying to force one registrant to move out of their community, only to have another one take his place. Now that same community anticipates another lengthy battle .
In addition, a growing number of municipalities have passed their own legislation banning registrants from being in areas used by the general public. Albuquerque, New Mexico  and Knox County, Tennessee  are among the locations that ban registrants from entering public libraries. A federal court struck Albuquerque’s ban as unconstitutional .
Are you getting angry reading this article and are thinking of taking a walk in the park or along the beach to clear your head? If you live in Orange County, California, you might want to reconsider. In 2011, the county passed an ordinance banning all registrants from the county’s parks, including beaches, the Orange County Zoo, and Dana Point Harbor (but could get written permission to enter the parks) . While Orange County is not the first place to pass park bans, this law is unique in adding confusion in determining which parks are legal or illegal to use by registrants. Each city in Orange County maintains their own parks, which means each city within the county must pass their own laws. Bans similar to the county law have been approved in Mission Viejo, La Habra, Laguna Hills, Los Alamitos, Westminster and Yorba Linda. In Huntington Beach, the City Council there passed what officials from the District Attorney’s Office termed, “The toughest ordinance in the county.” Irvine approved the ban but focused it on registered sex offenders who targeted minors. In Lake Forest, the city passed the ban but excluded the opportunity for sex offenders to get written permission to enter city parks. The City Council has asked city staff to look at how the county and city can collaborate to prevent sex offenders from getting access to the three county-operated parks in or near Lake Forest . Seal Beach was the latest city to pass the ordinance unanimously and without debate .
If sex offenders are caught in a hurricane in Texas, Louisiana, or Florida, they are corralled into segregated shelters . Sheriff David Gee of Tampa, Florida, told reporters that registrants can take care of themselves and make other arrangements in case of a hurricane .
Homeless shelters like the one on Ottumwa, Iowa , cannot or will not take registrants. A couple of media accounts spotlight the results of denying even basic human needs to registrants. In January 2009, Michigan registrant Thomas Pauli froze to death in the bitter cold because he was not allowed to enter emergency shelters; the shelters were too close to schools . A second person died in San Francisco in 2010 from the stress of being forced to live on the streets . In response to a lawsuit against prohibiting sex offenders from being in downtown homeless shelters, Hamilton County Prosecutor Doe Deters famously stated, “I feel bad for him. I know it’s cold outside, but we have to enforce the law. There is no constitutional right to warmth .”
North Carolina and Georgia banned sex offenders from attending church services, and there were concerns pastors could be charged for letting registrants attend church services . One church in Wisconsin created an adults-only service to cater to registrants so they do not violate parole, but did not publicize the service out of fear of protesters . Perhaps it was the response to a story in Florida of a registered citizen given a pastor role in a church; after the service was made adults-only, members of the “New Black Panthers” protested outside the church in a cheap publicity stunt .
Some states even mark state ID tags with scarlet letters. Since 2005, Alabama has required registrants to carry a special state ID with the words “criminal sex offender” in scarlet lettering . One man was recently arrested for failing to obtain such an ID card; his crime was consensual relations with a 15-year-old girl when he was 18 . Another man was arrested in Florida and charged with “fraud” for marking over the words “Criminal Sex Offender” with a marker . California, Louisiana, Georgia, Kansas, and Delaware have either passed or debated similar legislation .
The past few years has also seen a trend of preventing registrants from participating in Halloween-related activities, including wearing costumes and masks and decorating your home with anything other than a sign stating “no candy at this residence.” Some must even report to jail to watch “educational” videos .
Many people on message boards around the country talk about shipping sex offenders to deserted islands. Washington state ran the last remaining “prison island” on McNeil Island until 2011, citing costs; however, the state kept open the McNeil Island Civil Commitment Center for sex offenders despite the costs .
A growing number of states are forcing registrants to pay registry fees, but since most registrants are unemployed and have little to no income, a hundred dollars is a lot of money. Illinois introduced legislation that would give the “option” registrants work for the state to pay the debt—100 hours of community service . So registrants can work for the state at a rate of a whopping one dollar per hour. There is not a free man in America who works for a mere one dollar an hour.
The segregation and degradation policies are not limited to the legal realm. Private organizations and events routinely exclude registered citizens from participating. A fundraising event involving an attempt to break a Guinness World Record was cancelled because the man attempting the feat was a registered citizen . Registrants are considered undeserving of awards for public service . If you do a good deed like returning valuable lost property to its rightful owner, then do so anonymously or the media will focus on your status as a sex offender rather than your good deeds:
“Milton Delgado, a reader from Delaware who e-mailed the newspaper after reading the initial story, said he was surprised to learn Damone had committed a sexual assault. But, Delgado said, Damone committed one crime, he had a chance to commit another crime, and yet he did not. ‘It leaves a sour taste in my mouth and, obviously, we would like this poor man to be the perfect citizen,” Delgado said. ‘But, in some ways, it makes what he did (returning the check) even more important.’ ‘I’m sort of torn between two reactions,’ said Simon Feldman, professor of philosophy of Connecticut College, who specializes in ethics. ‘There’s something admirable about judging people based on their present lives. But it’s very tempting to then sort of reinterpret everything about a person’s life in light of some new information .”
Feldman’s comments ring true in the case of one registered citizen who rescued a toddler who wandered from his home. The news media found it necessary to refer to the man’s status and remind us that “Tier Three offenders are considered most likely to re-offend .” It comes as no surprise, then, to see the following comments on message boards on this story :
“At least the registered sex offender did something right this time. Although I’m not sure that would’ve happened had the other people not shown up.”
“that dude was all giggles and thought it was xmas i bet when he saw a diaper boy just there in street for the taking bet he thought he was in heaven the other cars that stopped prolly [sic] saved boys ass from being tore up and bloody.”
Even the Occupy Movement debated on segregating sex offenders from participation in their movement. A Feminist movement known as the “Women’s Caucus” tried forcing “Tier 3” registrants out of the group pending a thorough investigation into their pasts by members of the Women’s Caucus. After the proposal was blocked, the feminists walked out. One article commenter added, “The article seems to imply people against it were just a bunch of misogynists, and lets the person proposing it get by with something like, ‘Well, the criminal justice system is not so good, but in this case it’s fine.’ Isn’t that an obvious contradiction? OB is being asked to exclude people based on a classification put forth by the very institutions we’re protesting .”
While feminists at the Occupy Boston pointed to an unfounded allegation of someone “slipping a roofie” in a protestor’s drink, the more likely catalyst was the backlash over a Boston Globe article that originally intended to discuss people finding love in the Occupy Movement, and instead gave the rival Boston Herald an opportunity to embarrass the Globe. The Boston Globe admitted that had they known the man in the article was a registrant, “That would have changed the nature of the story… I believe we would have looked for another couple or abandoned the story… Again, it seems like we would be telling a different story .”
Just the sight of a sex offender scares residents of Des Moines, Iowa so much the city is building a one-million dollar wall between the Blank Park Zoo and the Fort Des Moines Correctional Complex because there 17 of the 275 inmates in the minimum security facility are sex offenders. The camp has been around since the 1960s but the plan only came after word a “notorious” registrant was housed at the camp spread . In other words, a wall was built because of fear of an event rather than because of an actual event.
Even this lengthy study on sex offender discrimination cannot cover every instance of segregation and discrimination because they are so numerous and new ones seem to pop up daily.
THE “PEDOPHILE PROTECTION ACT”
Perhaps no greater symbol of the recognition of registered citizens as a separate and degraded class came in 2009, when Congress debated a new version of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Those who opposed this hate crimes bill, which added sexual orientation or perceived gender identity as falling under the targets of hate crime laws, as the so-called “Pedophile Protection Act.”
“King said that the hate crimes bill results in a ‘pedophile protection act,’ and is meant to create ‘thought crimes’ and protect “sexual idiosyncrasies ’.”
The bill allegedly received the derogatory name after an amendment to specifically exclude pedophiles from the hate crimes law was rejected by Democrats; one journalist proclaimed, “Hate crime laws are a child molester’s dream come true .” The American Family Association (a Special Interest group) said since ‘sexual orientation’ nowhere is defined in the law, ‘this law will give pedophiles, voyeurs and exhibitionists special protections, which is why the bill has correctly been called ‘The Pedophile Protection Act ’.” Despite the bill’s derogatory name, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill was attached to a defense spending bill and was signed by President Obama in October 2009. The following provisions were attached to Division E of H.R.2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
SEC. 4702. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The incidence of violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim poses a serious national problem…
(5) A prominent characteristic of a violent crime motivated by bias is that it devastates not just the actual victim and the family and friends of the victim, but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected.
(6) Such violence substantially affects interstate commerce in many ways, including the following:
(A) The movement of members of targeted groups is impeded, and members of such groups are forced to move across State lines to escape the incidence or risk of such violence.
(B) Members of targeted groups are prevented from purchasing goods and services, obtaining or sustaining employment, or participating in other commercial activity….
-Sec. 249. Hate crime acts
`(a) In General-
`(2) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN, GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, OR DISABILITY–
`(A) IN GENERAL- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, in any circumstance described in subparagraph (B) or paragraph (3), willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person—
Opponents of the bill intentionally misled the public into thinking this act protects “pedophiles.” Notice the law states “actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.” In other words, you don’t have to be a “pedophile”, simply perceived as one. As mentioned in many of the examples quoted in this report, “pedophiles” and “sex offenders” are generally believed to be one and the same.
SEX OFFENDER LAWS ARE CONTRARY TO HUMAN EQUALITY
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others“. – From George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”
Every example up to this point confirms the rise of “degraded other” politics. American history has been filled with many atrocities from the Japanese Internment camps to Jim Crow Laws to the Eugenics movement (some had even been upheld in supreme court cases), but those laws fell out of favor with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. A number of court cases have addressed threats rather than actions. Vagrancy laws fell out of favor during the 20th century. Two US Supreme Court cases (Romer v. Evans and Lawrence v. Texas) stated the rights of a group cannot be curtailed on the mere basis of public perception of the group as “different” and “morally undeserving.” A series of laws have determined that a person cannot be punished for status alone (Robinson v. California), and even charges of conspiracy requires concrete action related to illegal acts before one can be charged . The mere knowledge of a person’s past behavior does not justify a belief the person will automatically re-offend .
A blanket law barring convicted drug offenders from entering Cincinnati’s “Over-The-Rhine” district failed constitutional analysis because it went beyond restricting those interests associated with illegal drug activity and restricted a substantial amount of innocent conduct, like living in an apartment, or visiting human services. The law restricted and/or punished behavior not even linked to criminal activity; merely the act of being in the restricted area was enough to get you arrested. Also, the restriction restricted drug offenders from obtaining the assistance or support networks necessary for rehabilitation which was otherwise severely diminished by the restrictions 
In spite of the advances in equality, people forced to register as sex offenders have seen the opposite effect in the past fifteen years—a growing degradation of rights. When Janus wrote “Failure to Protect” in 2006, many of the instances of discrimination, including the Julia Tuttle Causeway and internet or library bans did not exist. It was a scary prediction that begs the question, “How much further will this pattern of degradation of rights continue?”
The evidence of the sex offender as a “second” or “degraded” class in society is overwhelmingly obvious, going beyond many examples listed in this article. At the heart of the degradation efforts is a culture of dehumanization, which must be
addressed in order to turn the tide back into the favor of equality.
The intent of this article was to spotlight the many ways in which sex offenders have been segregated or treated as second class citizens. While this is depressing to those who are affected by these actions, there is hope for positive change. This article is evidence of the growing number of degraded status events. However, a number of these laws and practices have been successfully challenged in court, including library and social networking bans, residency restriction laws, and arresting those who abuse registry information.
Even today, the chances of people suffering the consequences for promoting this discrimination are very low. This needs to change. Part of the reason this discrimination has been allowed to continue unabated for so long is because few are willing to fight back. Every victory against library bans, residency laws, and Internet bans were made possible by those willing to stand up for their rights. If you want the discrimination to stop, it should be obvious what you need to do — fight back.
- Patty Wetterling, “Patty Wetterling: The Harm in Sex Offender Laws.” The Sacramento Bee, Sept. 14, 2007, http://www.sacbee.com/110/v-print/story/377462.html, Retrieved April 12, 2008. A copy can be found at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=1cb_1243104256 as of the original writing date of this article
- Kerry Howley, “Erogenous Zoned: Sending sex offenders into exile.” Reason, June 30, 2006. http://reason.com/archives/2006/06/30/erogenous-zoned, Retrieved March 25, 2012. The quote is from Danny Martiny.
- Eric S. Janus, “Failure to Protect: Sexual Predator Laws and the Rise of the Preventive State.” Cornell U. Press, Ithica, NY, 2006. Pages 4-6.
- Sewell v. State , 181 Ohio App.3d 280, 2009-Ohio-872. http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/1/2009/2009-ohio-872.pdf, retrieved March 25, 2012
- Clifford Ward, “Sex offender gets home monitoring.” Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2011. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-sex-offender-gets-home-monitoring-after-coaching-kids-20110412,0,7896068.story, Retrieved March 25, 2012
- Missouri 96th General Assembly, House Joint Resolution 83 of 2012, http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills121/biltxt/intro/HJR0083I.htm, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- Philip Zimbardo, “Dehumanization.” Lucifer Effect, 2006-2012. http://www.lucifereffect.com/dehumanization.htm, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Derek Logue, “The Fourth Reich: Sex Offender Laws as a Prototype for the Holocaust.’ Once Fallen, 2006. http://www.https://oncefallen.com/the-fourth-reich-comparison-of-nazi-and-american-sex-offender-laws/, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- “Dehumanization and its Effects on Society.” Simply, Christian.com, March 9, 2009. http://www.simplyxian.com/2009/03/09/dehumanization-and-its-effects-on-society/, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Zimbardo, “Dehumanization”
- Kenneth V. Lanning, “Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis,” National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 2001, p. 5. http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC70.pdf, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Timothy Fortney, Jill Levenson, Yolanda Brannon & Juanita N. Baker, “Myths and Facts about Sexual Offenders:
Implications for Treatment and Public Policy. Sexual Offender Treatment, Volume 2 (2007), Issue 1. http://www.sexual-offender-treatment.org/55.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Emily Horowitz, “Growing Media and Legal Attention to Sex Offenders: More Safety or More Injustice.” The Journal of the Institute of Justice & International Studies, No. 7, 2007. http://ncrj.org/resources/info/safety-or-injustice/, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Tim Gurrister, “Husband throws more than mere accusations.” Standard-Examiner, May 28, 2009. Copy of article can be found at http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/2009/05/ut-husband-throws-more-than-mere.html
- Alissa Irei, “Lawyer Says Someone Writing Letters To Sex Offenders In Her Name.” NBC Montana, December 7, 2011. http://www.nbcmontana.com/print/29947419/detail.html, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- Stephen Loiaconi, “Did Aliahna die in a ‘sex offender ghetto’?” HLN, February 17, 2012. http://www.hlntv.com/article/2011/12/28/aliahnas-home-surrounded-sex-offenders, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- “Father of missing Calif. teen Sierra Lamar is a registered sex offender, police say.” CBS, March 21, 2012. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57401601-504083/father-of-missing-calif-teen-sierra-lamar-is-a-registered-sex-offender-police-say/, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- Ben Leubsdorf, “Mailer links Lynch, offenders.” Concord Monitor, October 23, 2010. http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/221603/mailer-links-lynch-offenders, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- Kevin Haas, “Friends of Rep. Ron Wait respond to Tuite’s negative ad.” Rockford Register Star, September 17, 2008. http://www.rrstar.com/news/x510110443/Friends-of-Rep-Ron-Wait-respond-to-Tuite-s-negative-ad, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- “Second Mailing From Police Union Blasts Candidates.” KETV, 2009. http://www.ketv.com/r/18739264/detail.html, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- Leila Brillson, “Sex Offenders Banned From Facebook, Twitter.” Switched.com, August 14, 2009. http://www.switched.com/2009/08/14/social-networking-sites-off-limits-to-illinois-sex-offenders/, Retrieved March 26, 2012. “Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed into law this week a bill that bans all registered sex offenders in his state from engaging in online social networking. The bill defines a social networking site as one containing: “profile web pages of the members,” “photographs placed on the profile web pages,” and “any other personal or personally identifying information.” Taking effect in January, the bill ensures that any registered offender who violates the ban will be charged with a felony.”
- Lauren Wilson and AP, “Sex offenders to be banned from Facebook in La.” KATC 3, June 9, 2011. http://www.katc.com/news/sex-offenders-to-be-banned-from-facebook-in-la-/, Retrieved March 26, 2012. “The measure by Opelousas Rep. Ledricka Thierry would make it a crime to use networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks by anyone convicted of a list of sex offenses against a minor. Probation and parole officers and judges could make exceptions. Conviction of the crime of unlawful use or access of social media would carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.”
- “How can I report a convicted sex offender?” Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=210081519032737, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- AP, “Gov. Bobby Jindal revisits ban on sex offenders from Facebook.” NOLA, March 1, 2012. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/03/gov_bobby_jindal_revisits_ban.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, 111th Congress (2009 – 2010) H.R.5297, Section 3011 (c)(2), “With respect to funds received by a participating State under the Program, any private entity that receives a loan, a loan guarantee, or other financial assistance using such funds after the date of the enactment of this Act shall certify to the participating State that the principals of such entity have not been convicted of a sex offense against a minor (as such terms are defined in section 111 of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.” http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ240/pdf/PLAW-111publ240.pdf, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- eAdvocate, “ALERT: The Senate passes HR-4213, bill without offensive language.” Congress, Courts, and Decisions, July 20, 2010. http://congress-courts-legislation.blogspot.com/2010/07/alert-senate-passes-hr-4213-bill.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- eAdvocate, “ACTION ALERT: More on denying certain sex offenders, mortgages..” Congress, Courts, and Decisions, July 17, 2010. http://congress-courts-legislation.blogspot.com/2010/07/action-alert-more-on-denying-certain.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- eAdvocate, “Are ALL sex offenders prohibited from living in federally assisted housing?” Sex Offender News and Research, September 1, 2008. http://sexoffenderresearch.blogspot.com/2008/09/are-all-sex-offenders-prohibited-from.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Melissa Regennitter, “Tracking sex offenders takes lots of time.” Muscatine Journal, May 9, 2008. http://muscatinejournal.com/news/local/tracking-sex-offenders-takes-lots-of-time/article_9c8ce2d8-1173-5848-8ee4-2a92da4afef9.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Derek Logue, “The sequel no one wanted: Bookville II, return of the Miami sex offender camp.” The Examiner, March 13, 2012. http://www.examiner.com/crime-in-cincinnati/the-sequel-no-one-wanted-bookville-ii-return-of-the-miami-sex-offender-camp, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- MICHAEL MELLO, “Cypress approves strict sex offender rules.” THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, Feb. 28, 2012. http://www.ocregister.com/news/offenders-342248-city-new.html, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- “Community Fights To Keep Sex Offender Out.” WISN 12, Marxh 26, 2012. http://www.wisn.com/r/30765628/detail.html, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- “Libraries Ban Sex Offenders.” KOAT 7, http://www.koat.com/r/15493567/detail.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Mike Donila, “Knox bans registered sex offenders from county libraries.” Knox News, September 12, 2011. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/sep/12/knox-bans-registered-sex-offenders-from-county/, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Jamie Davis, “Federal appeals court strikes New Mexico sex offender library ban.” The Jurist, January 21, 2012.
http://jurist.org/paperchase/2012/01/federal-appeals-court-strikes-down-new-mexico-sex-offender-library-ban.php, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- Victoria Kim and Sarah Peters, “Orange County bans sex offenders from some parks, beaches.” LA Times, April 6, 2011. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/06/local/la-me-sex-offender-ban-20110406, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- ERIKA I. RITCHIE, “Rancho bans sex offenders from parks.” THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, Feb. 9, 2012.
http://www.ocregister.com/articles/city-339581-county-sex.html, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- ROXANA KOPETMAN, “Seal Beach OKs sex offender ban for beach, pier and parks.” THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, Feb. 28, 2012. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/law-342254-county-offenders.html, Retrieved March 28, 2012.
- Derek Logue, “Rock you like a Hurricane: Former Offenders Segregated in Hurricane Shelters!” Once Fallen, 2010. http://www.https://oncefallen.com/natural-disasters-and-registered-citizens/, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler, “Hillsborough shelters shut out sex offenders.” St. Petersburg Times, June 16, 2005. http://www.sptimes.com/2005/06/16/news_pf/Hillsborough/Hillsborough_shelters.shtml, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Mark Newman, “Come in from the cold: Men’s homeless shelter opens.” Ottumwa Courier Online, November 13, 2009. http://ottumwacourier.com/local/x546297960/Come-in-from-the-cold-Men-s-homeless-shelter-opens, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Jessica Leffler, “Man found in snow had no place to turn.” WOOD-TV 8, January 28, 2009. http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/Man_found_in_snow_had_no_place_to_turn, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Lauren Smiley, “Better Off Dead? Did Jessica’s Law kill a homeless sex offender?” SF Weekly, March 31, 2010.
http://www.sfweekly.com/content/printVersion/1920236/, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- “The meanest guy in the state.” Cleveland Homeless, February 20, 2007. http://clevelandhomeless.blogspot.com/2007/02/meanest-guy-in-state.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- BONNIE ROCHMAN, “Should Sex Offenders Be Barred from Church?” Time, October 19, 2009. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1929736,00.html, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- “Church offers adults-only service for sex offenders banned from being near children.” UK Daily Mail, March 21, 2012. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2118230/Church-offers-adults-service-sex-offenders-banned-near-children.html, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- Jeff Brumley, “New Black Panthers will continue protests against Jacksonville pastor convicted of sex crimes.” Florida Times-Union, http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2012-02-06/story/new-black-panthers-will-continue-protests-against-jacksonville-pastor, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- “Alabama’s sex offender law goes into effect Oct. 1.” Decatur Daily, August 7, 2005. http://archive.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/050807/offender.shtml, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Jean Cole, “Lack of ID card sends sex offender back to jail.” Athens News-Courier, June 26, 2010. http://enewscourier.com/local/x383284172/Lack-of-ID-card-sends-sex-offender-back-to-jail, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Wendy Victora, “Sex offender tries to hide status on driver’s license.” NWF Daily News, January 26, 2010. http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/sex-25129-offender-line.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- See http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/search/label/DriversLicense
- Derek Logue, “Tricks-Not-Treats: Halloween Predator Panic Laws.” Once Fallen, Oct. 15, 2008. http://www.https://oncefallen.com/halloween-sex-offender-laws-tricks-not-treats-by-once-fallen/. Retrieved March 26, 2012
- Jennifer Sullivan and Christine Clarridge, “McNeil Island prison to close next year.” Seattle Times, November 19, 2010. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013474479_mcneil20m.html, Retrieved March 26, 2012
- “Rep. Hammond Passes Legislation Allowing Community Service if Sex Offenders Can Not Pay Annual Registration Fee.” Illinois House Republicans, 2012. http://news.ilhousegop.org/2012/03/rep-hammond-passes-legislation-allowing-community-service-if-sex-offenders-can-not-pay-annual-registration-fee/, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- Rodney Thrash, “Safety Harbor cancels sex offender’s Guinness World Record event.” Tampa Bay Times, August 14, 2010. http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/article1115043.ece, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- “Community angered after sex offender receives award.” WWMT 3, November 12, 2011. Link no longer available
- DEBORAH STRASZHEIM, “Man who returned $185,000 check is a registered sex offender.” Norwich Bulletin, Jan 04, 2008. http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/x107967919, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- “Sex Offender Rescues Wandering 3-Year-Old.” ABC 7 Denver, October 24, 2007. http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/14411132/detail.html, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- Comment board at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=abd_1193238272, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- Liz Pelly, “As Occupy Boston struggles with a sex-offender ban, its weaknesses have been laid bare.” The Boston Phoenix, January 18, 2012. http://thephoenix.com/boston/news/132752-as-occupy-boston-struggles-with-a-sex-offender-ban/, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- Craig Silverman, “Boston Globe mistake raises questions about how media cover sex offenders.” Poynter.com, January 18, 2012. http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/regret-the-error/159849/boston-globe-mistake-raises-questions-about-how-media-covers-sex-offenders/, Retrieved March 27, 2012
- William Petroski, “Barrier separating zoo, offenders nearly finished.” Des Moines Register, March 25, 2012. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120326/NEWS/303260026/-1/SPORTS09/Barrier-separating-zoo-offenders-nearly-finished, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- Michael O’Brien, “Rep. Steve King slams hate crimes bill as protecting ‘sexual idiosyncrasies’.” The Hill, October 9, 2009. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/62451-rep-steve-king-slams-hate-crimes-bill-as-protecting-sexual-idiosyncrasies, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- Olivia St. John, “CHILD MOLESTER’S DREAM COME TRUE.” WND.com, June 22, 2009. http://www.wnd.com/2009/06/101773/, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- Bob Unrah, “CONGRESS PASSES ‘PEDOPHILE PROTECTION ACT’.” WND.com, October 22, 2009. http://www.wnd.com/2009/10/113788/, Retrieved March 28, 2012
- Janus, “Failure to Protect,” p. 100-101. See Lawrence v. Texas, 539 US 558 (2003); Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996); Robinson v. Cali, 270 US 660 (1962); US v. Cintolo, 818 F. 2d 980, 1003 (1987)
- Tot v. US, 319 US 463 (1943)
- State v. Burnett (2001) 93 Ohio St. 3d 219, Johnson et al. v. City of Cincinnati, 2002 FED App. 0332P (6th Cir.), cert. denied, US Supreme Court case no. 02-1452