What registration laws do is make it nearly impossible for those listed to find or keep jobs and housing, advocates say. Residency restrictions in California have created a housing crisis for convicted sex offenders. According to the California Sex Offender Management Board, the number of homeless registrants has increased 217 percent, to 6,500, over the past eight years.
In 2010, Lindsay was attacked in his home by a young man wielding a sledgehammer. David Jordan Griffin, 21, found Lindsay’s address on a Megan’s Law website. “He hated sex offenders and wanted to kill me,” Lindsay says.
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When providing clarifications about the lower than generally acknowledged rates of recidivism, we must be careful not to oversimplify. Recidivism research is as difficult as it is important. For instance, although average rates tell us what percentage reoffends one or more times, we also need to be aware that a subset reoffends at a frighteningly high rate. In addition, there are reasons to think that published findings underestimate the true rates. Most research necessarily omits those offenders who were not detected and arrested or whose victims did not report the crime. Further, many sex offenders plea-bargain down to a nonsexual offense.
my coworker is a registered sex offender — Ask a …
The first law requiring sex offenders to register publicly and for life was passed in California in 1947 and targeted gay men, according to Andrew Extein, executive director of the Center for Sexual Justice. But many of today’s laws have their origins in the late 1970s, when feminists and social conservatives worked together to publicize high-profile “stranger danger” attacks on children, says Roger Lancaster, anthropology professor at George Mason University and author of “Sex Panic and the Punitive State.”
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Lancaster, the George Mason professor, says the criminal-justice system should overhaul how it approaches sex offenses. “Punishment is a poor instrument for reducing these occurrences,” he says. “If you want to reduce child abuse and domestic violence, the solution is to enhance the economic standing of women and children” so that they could more easily leave abusers.
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To help curb sexual abuse, some advocates point to programs like one in Germany that offers free and confidential treatment for adults who have “sexual fantasies directed toward children.” Germany, unlike the United States, does not require mental-health professionals and others to report to law enforcement anyone they suspect has touched a child inappropriately. In the United States, several hotlines offer “confidential and anonymous support” but are legally required to turn over information to authorities if callers disclose identifying information. That fear keeps some potential assailants from confiding in therapists or seeking treatment, says Extein of the Center for Sexual Justice, who has worked as a therapist with convicted sex offenders.
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Frank Lindsay, 62, is a father, small-business owner and avid surfer. He’s also one of 105,000 people in California — and 760,000 nationally — listed as a sex offender. In accordance with federal law, his name, photograph and home address appear in a public, online offender registry. In 1979, Lindsay, then 27, was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14.