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Mother: Sex offender registry is overly harsh, ineffective

People who are convicted of a sex offense may be sentenced to jail, their reputation could be destroyed and they could be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. Of all the punishments that people face for a conviction, some people argue that being placed on the sex offender registry is the harshest. 

The sex offender registry gained support as a tool to keep track of sexual offenders that authorities believed would reoffend or pose a threat to their community. However, over the years it has grown into punishment for any person convicted on sexual misconduct charges, whether it was a first-time offense, a juvenile offense or nonviolent offense.

One mother is fighting to change the registry so that it does not unnecessarily hurt people like her son, who has been ordered to register since the age of 17 when he had sex with a young girl at a party.

The mother is one of the many people taking issue with the current state of the sex offender registry, which she says is unfairly harsh to those, like her son, who made a terrible mistake as a young person or are not in danger of reoffending. 

According to research, she states, it is not even a successful means of improving public safety. This is largely because over 93 percent of sexual assault or abuse cases involving children are committed by a person the child already knows, and many of the remaining cases involve a person who is not on the registry.

The registry has ballooned into such an over utilized resource that many of the people on the registry are juveniles or people who made a foolish mistake. They are not the people who are pose an ongoing threat, yet they are paying the same price for their mistake as the most violent or dangerous offenders. This, the mother says, is why changes need to be made.

By including fewer people on the registry, it is argued that authorities will be able to focus more on monitoring the most dangerous people, as opposed to thousands of people who are relatively harmless. This would free up resources and there could be a focus on rehabilitation and crime prevention. What do you think? Should there be reforms to the sex offender registry in Florida to make it more effective?

Source: NBC News, "My Son, the Sex Offender: One Mother's Mission to Fight the Law," Tony Dokoupil, May 6, 2014

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