The Political Registry

By Voice . . .

It started with a tragic moment. The horrific actions against and slaying of Megan Kanka in 1994. Prior to this year most sexual offenders were only required to do some kind of self reporting to either local jurisdictions pursuant to individual rules or a supervising authority pursuant to its rules. In the case of Megan a sexual offender named Jesse Timmendequas was no longer on supervision and committed his heinous acts relatively without notice until it was too late. He was able to get close to the family, groom Megan, and commit the ground zero of horrifying crimes. His actions would spawn a movement that would lead to one of the most contentious, litigated, and often damaging legal protection schemes every conceived. But is there more to the story? This writer believes there is. In fact I believe that what I think I have pieced together is not only one of the most compelling reasons ever to abolish the registry but might also be evidence of something bigger.

Around 1994 Megan Kanka wasn’t the only child to fall victim to a depraved individual who had slipped through the legal cracks. Jacob Weterling was another. In a time when these two cases were gaining a great deal of national attention it was becoming a rather hot button issue. So, a new Jersey representative named Paul Kramer sponsored a multi part bill that would later become the New Jersey Megan’s Law bill. This was then moved to the national level in 1996 which was a time when Newt Gingrich presided over the House and Trent Lott was majority leader in the senate. This is important in a moment.

First, before I continue I know that some of the facts are over simplified and may have some holes here. Those oversimplifications and holes if filled would strengthen my argument here but for the sake of easier typing I omit them. They do not detract from the main thread in any way if omitted.

Moving along…

If you perform a Google search you might be shocked to note all 3 political players in this dance of doom are of a Republican background. Not surprising. In the 90s a tough on crime approach was extremely electable. So much so that it was employed by the Clinton’s in Bill Clinton’s many actions in office. Not surprising is that in the same years that Megan’s law is breathed into life by 3 strong willed and dedicated Republicans their single political rival in the white house is impeached for a sexual crime. This doesn’t say that Bill Clinton didn’t do what he was accused and found guilty of. But it says a lot about the thunderstorm that was at play. Was this new sensational movement perhaps a political play thing? Time would tell.
It turns out to be far worse from what I am currently gathering.

Lets look at the events of 2006. John Walsh enters the fray. A long time Donald Trump friend and heavy Trump supporter. Notable because he put his entire financial and career into getting passed SORNA and the Walsh Act. These are complex laws but they essentially solidify the registries of all states under a very harsh set of sanctions if a state does not adopt them. Laws that solidly nail down the registry and more specifically keep people on it as long as possible.

Both Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich who both would have been keys to the puzzle of getting Megan’s Law passed are not just Republicans but both do not support any impeachment attempts against Donald Trump but also support Trump and have made numerous comments that seem to suggest that if he were to return to office they would back him. These two individuals had no issues impeaching Bill Clinton for his sexual escapades in the oval office, but refuse to Impeach Trump for not just the crimes of consorting with our enemies, but also making bribes and deals in exchange for political favors, and conspiring to overthrow the US Government via the Jan 6, Insurrection. This is interesting because of one group, Q Anon.

For anyone who has been living under a rock lately. Q Anon is a group devoted to hunting pedophiles. They were formed on a website called 4chan and spread rapidly across the country as a far right Republican backed group dedicated to removing what they see as high level Democrat pedophiles in political offices, Hollywood, and the media. As well as hunting local pedophiles down using things like the sexual offender registry (everyone gasps). I find this interesting. Very interesting in fact because they so strongly back Donald Trump and insist on him being in office. The same Donald Trump backed by the framers of the registry that lets these individuals track and sometimes hunt down anyone who is a high level sexual offender. In fact from an elaborate google search some of the most notable people on the registry currently or who will appear there soon, are prosecuted and often even convicted by judges, lawyers, and district attorneys with ties to the Right wing portion of the Republican party and in many cases I am finding are never ones to denounce the behaviors of groups like Q Anon. I would even go so far in some cases to assert that some of them are big fans of Q Anon. From what I am seeing. Keeping in mind, any judge, lawyer, DA etc must keep a relatively low profile on social media. There is still lots and lots to be found. It took many days and hours.

It is hard to miss this coincidence. Indeed this may in fact be all reaching. I know that you can get into a rabbit hole a mile deep before you realize that you are in it at all. I know that you can look at the information and note that some of the key players were just trying to help children. But I wonder if that is just the lie that was fed to all of us. Because lets face it, does the registry do that?

The answer is a completely flat no. In fact no major study (there have been thousands) has every confirmed that the registry has made a notable elimination of any hazards to young persons from the actions of anyone who is a sexual offender. With or without the registry it is completely on the person to not offend.
The registry is nothing more then an address book of people who have been marked as undesirable to hire, undesirable to live near, and unfit to remain in private.

No empirical evidence exists to show that the registry justifies the money invested, the time spent, or the privacy violation and enhanced danger it brings about. In fact several website ranking tools that are able to get passed the registries noteworthy bot blockers will tell you flatly that website traffic to the registry tanks to a very low number from time to time and you can actually line that up with (get this, ready to smile?) strongly conservative news networks who do a “local” story on the 5 o-clock news about viewing the registry to “protect” your loved ones. We have all seen this sort of story. it makes no sense. But look at the website traffic reading and compare the dates. Its like a clock. Its very odd indeed. The registry will then see a traffic spike in that area or state and for a while will pick up as a social topic in a wide range of circles. This keeps the magic of the spell alive.

If we really do live in a society that is now awake again and aware of the danger that we allowed into our political offices why dont we look at this again? Why dont we consider abolishing it? Why do we continue to allow something that costs so much money, violates so many peoples rights, and doesn’t even do what it claims to do at face value?

The easy answer? Because the money runs too deep…. is this truly a registry for the people? Or is it something more sinister for people operating just out of sight? Someone in an authority position really needs to look at this. If the registry did all it claims to do and is free of political shenanigans then it should be police only and not as restrictive. Anything else from that….I am calling bs.

  1. STOP with the Dems vs. Reps B.S! If the Dems were the ‘party of common sense’ then we’d see massive reductions in S.O. Laws in Dem controlled states But we don’t.

    BOTH parties are trying to create public fears so they can appear to ‘protect’ the public.

    1. Bill Clinton signed the entire thing into law. I think I made that clear. But you cant say that you can ignore facts. Each Senator to push the next phase of the law forward was a devote conservative and now Donald Trump supporter. In fact of all the people mentioned each ironically believes the women who accused Trump are all liers and have made public affirmations of that.
      To be clear Democrats are the party of massive prison growth. The prison industrial complex is a movement funded by and pushed by Democrat lawmakers. So yes, both parties are at fault.

  2. I would love to clarify that I have worked with NARSOL on an alternative version of this for the NARSOL originals page. It has the same title. Some of you may like that more. It sticks to a different line of thought.
    This is the Author just clarifying.

  3. Have you seen this?

    AMERICAN LAW INSTITUTE ADOPTS REVISIONS TO MODEL PENAL CODE THAT INCLUDE MAJOR CHANGES TO SEX OFFENDER REGISTRIES
    June 9, 2021

    [Ira Ellman of ACSOL – 6/9/21]
    On June 8, 2021 the membership of the American Law Institute gave its final approval to a revision of the Model Penal Code’s (MPC) chapter on Sexual Assault and Related Offenses. This project was initially authorized by the ALI Council in 2012. The appointed Reporters, Professors Stephen Schulhofer and Erin Murphy of the New York University School of Law, began work immediately, preparing drafts for discussion with the appointed project Advisors and the Members’ Consultative Group. As is normal with ALI projects, these groups included practicing attorneys, judges, and scholars who are experts in the subject. Portions of the project were presented to the full membership at the annual meetings in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. The ALI Council agreed on January 22 to recommend the membership’s final approval of the completed project. Tentative Draft Number 5 was then considered and approved by the Membership at the 2021 annual meeting held on June 8. The Reporters will now prepare the final published version reflecting the discussion at the Annual Meeting as well as editorial improvements.
    The complete Tentative Draft, 600 pages long, addresses the substance of the full range of sexual assault crimes. It contains the Blackletter provisions setting forth the code’s statutory language for each section, official Comments interpreting and explaining each section, and Reporter’s Notes providing background and citations to sources relied upon by the Reporters in the draft. The original version of the Model Penal Code was published by the ALI in 1962. It was and remains highly influential. According to Wikipedia more than half the states enacted criminal codes that borrowed heavily from the MPC, and even courts in non-adopting states have been influenced by its provisions. It was a forward looking document. One important and influential contribution of the 1962 MPC was the removal of noncommercial sexual acts between consenting adults, such as sodomy, adultery and fornication, from the criminal law. In 2001, however, the Institute concluded that revision of some portions of the 50-year-old MPC had become necessary. This project, revising the portions of the MPC addressing sexual assault, is one of three separate revision projects on different portions of the code. The original MPC contained no provisions on a sexual offense registry; the inclusion of that topic in the MPC is among the most significant revisions to it now approved by the Institute.
    The MPC’s registry provisions are contained in 11 sections. Including an official comment providing an Executive Summary, they are set forth in the final 120 pages of Tentative Draft No. 5. While the MPC adopts something called a registry, its substance departs significantly from existing registry laws, federal and state, as the Comments acknowledge. Key differences are:
    Many sexual offenses that are registrable in the federal and most state laws are not registerable under the MPC provisions, which provide that no offense is subject to registration other than those it specifies as registerable. Only these five offenses (as defined by other sections of the MPC) trigger a registration obligation:
    Sexual Assault by Aggravated Physical Force or Restraint
    Sexual Assault by Physical Force, but only when committed after the offender had previously been convicted of a felony sex offense.
    Sexual Assault of an Incapacitated Person, but only when committed after the offender had previously been convicted of a felony sex offense.
    Sexual Assault of a Minor, but only when the minor is younger than 12 and the actor is 21 years old or older.
    Incestuous Sexual Assault of a Minor, but 1 only when the minor is younger than 16.
    There is no public notification that individuals are on the registry, whether through a public website or any other means. Access to the registry is limited to law enforcement personnel. The knowing or reckless disclosure of registry information to others is a felony.
    The maximum registration period for the small group who remain on the registry is 15 years, but those who do not re-offend, and comply with parole, probation, or supervised release conditions, are removed after ten years. Failure to register cannot be the basis of parole or probation revocation; it is punishable only as a misdemeanor offense.
    General rules that required location monitoring of persons convicted of a sexual offense are barred, as are most restrictions on residency, employment, access to schools or the internet. Judges could impose such restrictions in particular cases, but only on persons currently required to register, and only upon an evidentiary showing that there are special circumstances in that particular case that justify it, and only for a limited period of time. In no case may a judge require public notification.

  4. OK. Let me start by saying I agree with you on the uselessness of the registry. It has never done what it was purported to do (i.e., enhance public safety) and never will. It needs to be abolished. It is a horrible waste of taxpayer dollars and completely misses the point that almost all new sex offenses are committed by people who are *not* on the registry. The time for action, lawmakers, is to PREVENT trouble before it can occur, NOT endlessly punish those who made poor choices. It’s too late then – the damage has already been done. Prevention through education, outreach, therapy without retribution, etc. is the correct tact to take in order to reduce sex crimes.

    Now, the rest of your story sounds like a conspiracy theory to me. Sorry, I don’t understand it nor do I understand why you posted that. All this legislation that has been passed that endlessly adds more restrictions to those on the registry have been, for the most part, bi-partisan efforts. Punishing those who have been convicted of a sexual offense has always sold well to the public and therefore politicians of ALL flavors jump on the bandwagon.

    Victor

    1. Just curious, what part do you think is a conspiracy?
      Almost all bills to toughen sex offender laws are sponsored by Republicans. Don’t take my word for it, look it up yourself. It’s not hard to find.

      1. I don’t doubt that, but those bills are usually passed with Democratic support too, correct?

        I guess I really don’t understand what the point was trying to pin all this on Republicans (apparently).

        We have a Democratic President and Congress now. Does this mean things are going to get better for us now? Are you trying to infer that perhaps we should never vote for a Republican again? What is the message you are trying to convey here?

        Victor

      2. I don’t see any Democrats in the current U.S. Congress pushing for tougher sex offender laws. Do you?
        Pay attention to the state level. That is where all the activity is.

      3. Ok. Well I guess you’re trying to take a different approach to reforming sex offender legislation. I’m not sure. You didn’t answer my question – what are you trying to accomplish by highlighting that it appears that mostly Republicans have sponsored bills to make life hell for registrants? Are you trying to influence our vote? Something else? It was a Democratic President (Obama) who signed into law the International Megan’s Law.

        I don’t really care whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat (or whatever) who sponsors a bill. I agree that most action takes place at the state and local level. We have to get at public opinion and get the public to change their minds about this before politicians of any stripe will listen. Politicians, generally speaking, are supposed to do what their constituents elect them to do. The public, by and large, has demanded, and still does demand, tougher and tougher laws against people who commit sex crimes. I believe that we need to convince the public before we can convince politicians that the real answer lies in prevention, NOT endless punishment after-the-fact.

        Victor

      4. Yes I am, and fully expected you to bring up IML.

        IML was sponsor by Republicans and rammed through a Republican controlled Congress. It wouldn’t had mattered if Obama vetoed it. It received zero opposition in Congress and they would had easily overridden his veto. Which was the whole point. They hoped to get Democrats on the record opposing the bill. It would had been a waste of time and political suicide for Obama to veto it.

        That is how the game is played. For instance, in Michigan, both the Governor and the Attorney General spoke out against the registry, but Republicans rammed through a new sex offense law, combined with other things that Democrats support. It was a bundled bill and the sex offender legislation was only part of it. The goal was to put Democrats on the spot and force them to support the entire package. That is why Michigan’s SORA law has not changed as ordered by the court, because Republicans passed a new law that was basically the same as the previous one.

        There are Democrats at the state level actually on record speaking out against the sex offender registry, whereas Republicans had to be fought all the way to the Supreme Court where the lower courts ruling was affirmed. They were ordered to change the law. Instead they passed a new law that is basically the same as the previous one.

        So yes. If you are a registrant and you vote for Republicans, you are voting against your own interests.

      5. Our votes aren’t going to change things about the registry. It has to start in the court of public opinion. You’ve seen the surveys where the public is overwhelmingly in favor of tougher and tougher laws against registrants, right? That’s the root cause of our problems.

        Don’t get me wrong. I HATE being on the registry and I think it’s the most ridiculous, draconian thing our country has done to its own citizens in recent memory. But voting for democats instead of republicans is not going to help us, in my opinion. Once we convince the public of how useless the registry is, THEN we can expect to see more gains on the political side where laws might actually change in our favor.

        That’s my view of the world anyway.

        Victor

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