The Sex Offender Registry is ineffective in combating child sexual abuse.
Debate Rounds (4)
First round- Acceptance
Second round- Pro and Con present their case
Third Round- Rebuttals
Fourth round- Closing statements (cannot bring new arguments in final round)
Sex offender- Anyone convicted of a crime on the sex offender registry
Sex offender registry- a purported non-punitive regulatory scheme designed to protect the public by putting anyone convicted of a sex crime on a public list
Ineffective in combating Child Sexual Abuse- meaning not affecting the majority of child sexual abuse cases
In order for my opponent to win this debate, she must prove that there is a compelling state interest in the sex offender registry and that it is effective in combating the majority of sexual abuse cases.
According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old (1). These numbers are staggering and it should be obvious to all that we have a major problem in our society with child sexual abuse. In response to this problem politicians have and continue to enact ever more restrictive laws for sex offenders in hopes it will curb abuse. It is my contention that they are going about it in the wrong way. That this singular focus on the sex offender registry as the main tool against child sexual abuse is ignorant of the statistics of who the actual perpetrators of sex crimes against children are, it gives guardians of our children a false sense of security, and it actually makes our children less safe. I begin by offering three arguments as to why the registry is an ineffective tool in combating child sex abuse.
1) Registered sex offenders are not the biggest threat to your child. The Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that of all sex crimes against juveniles (0-17 years of age) that 34.2% of the perpetrators were related to the victim, and 58.7% were acquaintances of the victim. That means that only 7.1% of the perpetrators are the classic "stranger danger" cases that the sex offender registry is designed to stop (2).
This means that the image our society has of child sexual abusers as the boogie man in the trench coat lurking behind your child"s elementary school is not the typical offender. The typical offenders are people known to children and trusted by them. Family members, family friends, neighbors, babysitters, clergy, coaches, teachers, these people are 93% of who are sexually abusing children. Yet our main tool in combating child sexual abuse is the sex offender registry which is designed to stop the boogie man.
2) Because our government focuses so much on sex offenders and the registry, parents follow suit. When parents hear of a sex offender in their neighborhood they immediately assume the worst. However, crimes that involve rape, extreme violence and murder account for, "for less than three percent of sexual offenses perpetrated the United States." (3)
Parents know they need to check the registry to make sure there are not sex offenders in their neighborhood, but do they have that same diligence used to make sure there kids are not being abused by family members and coaches and clergy and family friends? I would contend they do not have the same sense of urgency in checking out these people that represent 93% of the perpetrators in sex crimes against children.
The general public has very little understanding of the dangerousness of an offender. One study in Hillsborough County, Florida shows that when a sex offender moved into a neighborhood the housing in the area dropped in value by 2.3% and when they moved out it immediately went back to the normal price. This would be normal and expected, what is not normal though is that prices fell regardless of whether the offender was designated a predator (4).
This is what I call bloat. We have increased the number of crimes that require registration and now we do not know who is truly dangerous on the registry and who is not. The assumption is then that all on the registry must be dangerous for the fact the made it onto the registry. This leads to not being able to properly track the 7% of the people who are a serious danger to your child. Not only are we focused on the wrong targets, but in our eagerness to fix the problem by adding people to the registry we are making it harder to track the people that are an actual danger children.
3) The registry can actually make us less safe by not allowing offenders to successfully reintegrate back into society. One study found that sex offender laws may make it less likely for first time offenders to commit an offense, so they may have a very mild deterrent effect. However, total crime is higher though because the registry makes it more likely that a registered person will commit more crime. The study said this could be because of the, "social and financial costs associated with the public release of their personal information." (5)
The registry does a horrific job at allowing people who were previously convicted of a sex crime good opportunities to reintegrate back into society. With residency restrictions making it tough for ex-offenders to find a place to live, and with a felony on their record making it tough to find a job, what do we expect? We are taking stability away from sex offenders, making all but impossible for them to rebuild their lives. My opponent might say that they don"t deserve a life because they took from another person their innocence. I do not disagree with this sentiment but the question is not what I emotionally feel is right but what is going to make our children safer. Not allowing an offender to reintegrate into society does not make children safer.
Let's look at a common scenario that happens relatively often in our country, where our knowing about a sex offender and stopping them from moving in actually makes us as a society less safe. The community gets a flier that a registered offender is moving into an apartment complex, they come together and successfully petition the owner to not move the offender into their neighborhood. The sex offender cannot find housing for this person so they release them onto the streets and say register every month with the police since you are homeless. Are we actually safer now? We would then have an ex-offender the police do not know where to find that has no place to live and will have an incredibly difficult time finding a job. Is this best for the safety of our children, having a homeless sex offender who cannot get a job and does not have much to live for?
Not in my backyard (NIMBY) may work for you but its end effect makes someone else's child less safe.
The registry is an ineffective tool because it does not focus on the majority of perpetrators, it points the guardians of our children in the wrong direction, it does not show us who is truly dangerous, and it makes us less safe by not allowing offenders to successfully reintegrate back into society.
"The registry is a timely viable tool for Law Enforcement when a child goes missing."
I am going address this by breaking the statement down into two parts. First that it is a timely viable tool for Law enforcement. Whether or not it is a viable tool for law enforcement is not what we are debating. However, if we were debating that point, the effectiveness of the registry for law enforcement would be the same if the registry was public or not. As I stated in my opening argument, studies show that a public registry can actually cause more harm by not effectively allowing former offenders to reintegrate back into society (1). So if the registry is indeed a viable and valuable tool for law enforcement, which you have not proved that it is, but for the sake of argument let"s say I concede the point to you. If we assume the registry is a viable and valuable tool and we assume that a public registry actually causes more crime (My study stands unconverted in your opening case), then the only logical thing to do would be make the registry law enforcement only. This would keep the "viable tool for law enforcement" but at the same time allow sex offenders to better integrate back into society which will keep everyone safer.
My next point will be to show that the registry is a red herring when it comes to missing and exploited children. I am using the definitions from the US Department of Justice"s study, National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children so we will have common definitions in talking about this point:
Nonfamily abduction: (1) An episode in which a nonfamily perpetrator takes a child by the use of physical force or threat of bodily harm or detains the child for a substantial period of time (at least 1 hour) in an isolated place by the use of physical force or threat of bodily harm without lawful authority or parental permission, or (2) an episode in which a child younger than 15 or mentally incompetent, and without lawful authority or parental permission, is taken or detained or voluntarily accompanies a nonfamily perpetrator who conceals the child"s whereabouts, demands ransom, or expresses the intention to keep the child permanently.
'Stereotypical kidnapping: A nonfamily abduction perpetrated by a slight acquaintance or stranger in which a child is detained overnight, transported at least 50 miles, held for ransom or abducted with intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.'
'Stranger: A perpetrator whom the child or family do not know, or a perpetrator of unknown identity. '
'Slight acquaintance: A nonfamily perpetrator whose name is unknown to the child or family prior to the abduction and whom the child or family did not know well enough to speak to, or a recent acquaintance who the child or family have known for less than 6 months, or someone the family or child have known for longer.'
This study estimates that there were 797,500 reported missing children in 1999. Of those 797,500 missing children, only 115 were "stereotypical kidnappings". And of these 115 children, 49% (57 children) were sexually assaulted. That means that of all the 797,500 missing children, only 0.014% were "stereotypical kidnappings", and 0.0071% of all the kids were kidnapped and sexually assaulted (2).
I do support a private registry for law enforcement only to support law enforcement in helping these 115 children every year be safely returned to their families. However, to say we need a public registry, that can actually cause more overall victimization, to help 57 children that are sexually assaulted every year by a "stereotypical kidnapper" seems like a giant leap in logic I am not willing to make. Moreover, con"s argument is that the registry is effective in combating the majority of sexual assaults, missing and exploited children who are kidnapped account for only 57 children who are sexually abused each year.
"The Private sector has the ability to access their registry and the information provided allows the public to gauge many aspects that effects them personally."
I agree the public has the ability to access a PUBLIC registry, but to what end? In my opening argument, there was a study that showed that the general public does not understand the difference between a sex offender who is designated as a predator and one who is not. In that study, housing prices in neighborhoods where a sex offender moved in dropped in value by an average of 2.3%. What the study showed though that the price fell by an average of 2.3% regardless of whether the offender was designated a predator (3). This clearly shows that the general public cannot properly gauge even basic aspects of the registry.
"It's a birds eye view of the correctional system,"
I do not know how it is a bird"s eye view of the correctional system. I am defining people in the correctional system as in prison or on parole and probation. According the Bureau of Justice Statistics, State prisons had an estimated 1,314,900 inmates at the end of 2013, only 160,900 or 12.23% were in there for rape of sexual assault (4). The Bureau of Justice Statistics also tracks parole and probation by crime, there were 3,910,600 on probation in 2013, of which 3% or 117,318 probationers were on probation for a sex offense. In 2013 there were 853,200 on probation of which, 10% or 85,320 (5). So all totaled there are 6,078,700 people in the correction system of which only 5.9% or 363,448 people are in for sexual offenses. How is 5.9% of the total people in the corrections system a good representation of the total population?
"the increased or decreased security of the neighborhoods,"
I would ask that if you are going to say if sex offenders moving in or out increases or decreases the security of a neighborhood that you would cite an academic study that proves your point.
"the effectiveness of local law enforcement,"
How does having a sex offender in your neighborhood reflect on the effectiveness of local law enforcement? Please cite your studies that show this.
"the direct impact of property values in relation to those who have a vested interest in those values."
If you want to know the value of your property get an appraiser or talk to a real estate agent, the sex offender registry cannot tell you the price of your home.
"Most important, it allows those who are most targeted by these crimes the ability to determine the proximity of those who have been convicted of sexually based crimes."
The people that are most targeted by these crimes are children. As I said in my opening argument, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 93% of the crimes against children are perpetrated by people known to the child. Stranger danger accounts for 7% of all sexual crimes against children (6). This sex offender registry is designed to keep strangers away from children, thus it is not effective in the majority of sex crimes against children.
"It has been determined that only 38% of the general public have accessed their immediate registries."
Again please cite your sources so we can have a proper debate. I would refer back to my earlier point that the general public does not understand the difference between dangerous offenders and non dangers offenders on the registry.
It is your assumption, not mine, that the "public registry" actually causes more crime. Various International Private studies have published that offenders do better under a public registration system. They are made more accountable for their actions and the offenders concede that the "victims" have a right to know of their presence in society. Offenders who have been mandated to go thru "private" treatment programs have been quoted to recognize the public registry as a helpful tool in controlling impulsive behaviors.
I personally do not find your references to the "Department Of Justice" and or their statistics a very compelling weight to your debate. I notice you add them frequently as a link in an attempt to substantiate your position. Due to my long involvement, research and observation with this issue the DOJ in my opinion, is the last link of reference that I would use as a valid and non partial reference for this subject. It has been my experience that the DOJ and other government agencies publish data in an attempt to implement social policies that are based on budget concerns, first and foremost. My conclusions are drawn from the correlation of the funding practices to the researchers themselves. I have not to date found a published reference from the DOJ that was not also "funded or subsidized" by the DOJ in the form of taxpayer grants or subsidies. With that being said, your statistical data from that particular source carries no weight with persons as myself.
You presume wrongly to take my position as one who leans on "stereotypical kidnappings" as a basis for my stance. But I do take offense to your minimization of ""only 57 children" were kidnapped and sexually assaulted. In real terms that is more than one a week which in itself warrants public notification despite your insistance that it does not.
Your argument that the "general public" cannot properly gauge even basic aspects of the registry, is not without some merit. I have long advocated that the "public" should better educate themselves on the various definitions of the registry. It is my contention that a better informed public would go on to advocate for harsher repercussions, longer sentencing guidelines and more inclusive residency restrictions, if they fully comprehended the daily release of some very serious criminals who pose a substantial danger to the community. I included the "bird's eye" term as a reference that allows the public to analyze the over sight and enforcement of their particular communities Law Enforcement and Correctional agencies as it relates to their neighborhoods. I personally have been woefully disappointed in the Department of Probation's abilities to perform and adhere to the most basic of supervisory duties and responsibilities they have to the public. I can only "cite" my multiple personal experiences with the DOP as it has related to my particular zip code.
Your question "increases or decreases the security of a neighborhood that you would cite an academic study that proves your point." That question is ludicrous at its most basic level . A neighborhood who has a disproportionate amount of sex offenders/predators in relation to the general public has a higher "risk factor" than a neighborhood that does not. The same "risk factors" are heightened whether we are debating drug dealers or toxic waste dumps. The same "risk factors" applies to property values when perspective property buyers are looking for areas to raise their families. It has been my observation that first time home buyers and or renters are also young families who look at schools, parks and other aspects of a "family setting" prior to investing or setting up residence. Often the neighborhoods are in multiple zoning areas that include numerous rental properties with single residential real estate combined. Sex offenders often gravitate to these same communities due to the affordable aspects of these rentals. In my opinion that's a recipe for disaster and an unacceptable risk.
Your comment "This sex offender registry is designed to keep strangers away from children, thus it is not effective in the majority of sex crimes against children." That is simply not true. The Registry is not "designed" for anything other than a tool to inform the public of who has been convicted of sexually based crimes. The Registry is not "designed" to SAVE our children or envelope them in a protective coating to eliminate sexual abuse. It is a database that should be accessed by the public to educate them as to who may pose a higher risk factor to themselves and or their families. No more, no less. An informed public is a safer public and with that knowledge they can act accordingly.
Law enforcement as an effective tool in combating child sexual abuse:
I agree that LE plays a role in combating child sexual abuse. I am not saying they do not, what I am proving with my opening and rebuttal positions is just how much of a role does LE actually play in stopping child sexual abuse, which is not very much. Your example of how LE can help stop child abuse is the classic stranger danger scenario. Statistics prove most children are not sexually abused by strangers, but by people they know and usually know quite well. In fact 93% of children are not abused by strangers (1). I have also shown that most runaway children are not "stereotypical kidnappings", less than 0.0014% are (2). All you have shown to prove your point is anecdotal stories which you have not even cited and you have not provided any quantitative data from any reputable source to back up your claim.
You also have not shown why the registry needs to be public if it is going to be an effective tool for law enforcement.
First of all I have used several sources outside the Bureau of Justice Statistics to prove my points. They stand completely uncontested because you have not shown any studies to back up any of your claims.
"With that being said, your statistical data from that particular source carries no weight with persons as myself."
Are you a recognized expert in the field of criminology? I can only speak for myself when I say I am not, I rely on people who have made it their careers to study this information and I base my opinions off their research. This research that I am quoting is peer reviewed, meaning that others critique it. If there are good arguments against the BJS data you shouldn't have a hard time finding it. Instead you are calling all the research I am providing into question because you disagree with it and doing so without providing even one counter study to prove that any of your ideas have merit.
Con"s "Proof" that a public sex offender registry works:
"Various International Private studies have published that offenders do better under a public registration system."
What studies might these be? You have not cited any studies thus far that proves anything, nor have you shown anything but anecdotal stories that you have not even cited to bolster your claim.
The need for a public registry:
"You presume wrongly to take my position as one who leans on "stereotypical kidnappings" as a basis for my stance. But I do take offense to your minimization of ""only 57 children" were kidnapped and sexually assaulted."
You have not shown any evidence that the people who are kidnapping these children are already on the sex offender registry.
Nor have you provided any evidence that shows how the general public knowing about sex offenders in their area stops a majority of sex offenses. I have shown evidence to show that a public registry can actually cause more offenses because the offender cannot properly reintegrate back into society, my evidence stands uncontested (3).
Moreover, 57 children is a drop in the bucket to the total number of children who are sexually abused each year. I do not mean to be crass with this nor am I trying to minimize these crimes, but why are these 57 children so much more important than the rest of the children who are being sexually abused by people they know and their family trusts? We are spending an inordinate amount of money on these "stereotypical kidnappings" and a very little amount on the 93% of victims. This is a bad investment on our part if we are trying to affect the majority of sexual crimes against children.
You are also using faulty logic here by assuming everyone on the registry is on it for sexually abusing children. This is simply not true.
Sex offenders decrease the security of neighborhoods:
"A neighborhood who has a disproportionate amount of sex offenders/predators in relation to the general public has a higher "risk factor" than a neighborhood that does not."
Even if I conceded this point, the children in these neighborhoods are still in greater danger from being sexually abused by people they trust! Stranger danger type crimes accounts for 7% of all child sexual abuse situations (1). The ironic part of all of this is that if you believe that sex offender clustering causes more victims, then your past stances on advocating for tougher residency restrictions actually makes it more likely that sex offenders will cluster thus one could say in reality you are advocating for more victims!
Sex offenders causing risk by living in areas where children live:
"Sex offenders often gravitate to these same communities due to the affordable aspects of these rentals. In my opinion that's a recipe for disaster and an unacceptable risk."
Again, children are more likely to be sexually abused by people they know and know well (1).
What the registry is designed for:
"An informed public is a safer public and with that knowledge they can act accordingly."
What evidence do you have that shows an informed public is a safer public? I have presented evidence to the contrary. That an informed public leads to less safety not more. A public registry does not allow for offenders to successfully reintegrate back into society (3). They are forced away from natural familial support systems if their family lives within 2,000 yards of anything child related. This leads to sex offender clustering, which by your very argument is a danger to society.
The evidence I have shown in this debate stands uncontested. Con has not brought up any competing sources to debate my points. As such you must find in favor of Pro. I will quickly go through the points that stand uncontested by Con.
1) The majority of perpetrators are not strangers but are known to our children and the families of the children that are sexually abused (1). The registry is not focused on stopping these types of criminals. The registry actually points parents and guardians down the wrong path, which is dangerous for our children. Instead of looking out for the most likely perpetrators of sexual crimes against their children, the registry focuses parents attention on trying to stop strangers from kidnapping and sexually abusing their children.
2) The registry is ineffective because it does not show who on the registry is the most dangerous. A study shows that the general public does not know the difference between a predator and non-predator (5). Con even agrees the public does not understand the registry very well. The sheer size of the registry itself is also a problem for it being effective. All of these less dangerous offenders are on the same registry as someone who is a lot more likely to offend. LE has to spend time focusing on people who may not pose any threat to your child, while not spending enough time tracking the people who are an actual danger to your child. By expanding the registry and what crimes must register as an RSO we are allowing truly dangerous offenders to hide in with people who are not a danger.
3) Not allowing offenders to successfully reintegrate back into society actually makes our community less safe (3). Pushing offenders away with residency restrictions and NIMBY campaigns leads to sex offender clustering, which by Con"s own argument is a threat to children. It also leads to homelessness for offenders who cannot find housing. Homelessness makes it tougher for LE to track these offenders which would make it less of a "viable tool"
Con has not taken met her burden, nor cited any source to prove any of her points. You must vote Pro.
Why do you take an assumption on your part and infer it as fact on mine? Not once in this debate did I even suggest All Registrants crimes were against children. Your habit of wrongly assuming my position and stating it as fact is disingenuous at the very least and distorted to the point that you ultimately end up debating against yourself at the very most. While the cheer leading section of the daily Strength group may hail your eloquent presentation on this page and careful placement of paragraphs and spell checks, at the end of the day our interacting with one another is based on bias's that is representative of both sides. IT IS MY OPINION that the voting deck is stacked by your supporters and I don't place nearly the importance or the time in this conversation that I normally would if I were preparing for a town council meeting to express my concerns. I quite clearly prefaced on more than one paragraph that my reactions to this issue are based on opinion and observation thru many years of dealing with this issue. I also was quite clear that I put little stock in the DOJ and many of their published studies. I am not quite sure how I can express that any more clearly.
The pro offender groups have a habit of using speculative studies and quotes numerous times a day when it is "useful" for their debates. If any one group" should be" more cautious about the Department of Justice and their findings, it would be the pro offender members.
My reference to the attempted abductions of late would hardly be considered "anecdotal". I am rather confused that you would think my lack of a link to those stories is a "win" for your side, considering they have been front and fore center in the daily papers.
At this moment in time my family and my connections are attempting to disprove a false attempted sexual assault charge against a very close friend of ours. Its a first for us and I must state I was (am) appalled by the criminal justice system and their attempts at prosecuting our friend. It has given me more of an insight to this issue than I previously appreciated. The reason I have not responded to you earlier, was the very real fact we appeared in front of the judge yesterday morning. this was the third time and I was flabbergasted at the dysfunction of the criminal justice system?? I believe that has had an effect on me, but not as hard-hitting as the Daily strength would have liked. While sitting in that courtroom I also took note of some very disturbed persons that were re-released back out onto the streets. I have spent many hours on registrants in their attempt to remove themselves from the registry and to date have been successful every one of those those attempts.
In as much as your interpretations of me as the "devil incarnate" I do make the efforts to right a wrong on more occasions than your aware of. I do that under the condition that I remain anonymous because I would rather be known as a hard hitter against these crimes than those simpletons you hang out with all day long on daily strength.
We can tit for tat all day long on citations, links to references and stats and who did better on this debate than the other . That's redundant to me. My stance is and always will be that we do not use our vulnerable as sexual vessels. We don't use the pressures of drugs, alcohol or stresses of our jobs as a "excuse" to use those who have no concept of a healthy sexual, adult relationship as an outlet for sexual release. If we tolerated the various "excuses" as to why we molested, raped and basically "got off" with those who were not old enough or cognizant enough to give a valid legal consent, what does that make us? I have higher hopes for a healthy society and those who do not adapt to those "hopes" I personally have no patience for and prefer they be segregated from those who cannot grasp that ideal from the rest of us. I am now tired and bored of this game . The reason your post were not published on my blog was due to the fact they were angry, derogatory and the language you used indicated what a true deviant you are, I appreciate the fact you decided you would go toe to toe with me on this forum (without the horrible language you used towards me in the blog , but at the end of the day I KNOW who you are and how disturbed your thinking on sex crimes really are. You may get high fives from the daily strength group but we both know who ultimately wins this debate..We both KNOW this debate isn't going to change the way either of us get up in the morning and drink our coffee, but we both know I have more power than you do and that is why I am such a threat to you and your groups...I think I win...
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.