Only 10 percent of young offenders will re-offend, according to the Center for Sex Offender Management. Yet young offenders who commit crimes against even younger peers are stuck in the most serious category.The sex offender registry is touted as a way to keep children safe, but does it?
Those opposed to lifetime juvenile registration suggest that it does not prevent future offenses, since sexual abuse is most often committed not by strangers but by someone in, or close to, the family. “Registration gives people a false sense of security, a false sense of hope,” says Randy Smith, who reviewed adult and juvenile sex offenders for courts in Chicago and Ohio.
But despite the efforts of advocates, the futures of young offenders like Anthony are in the hands of elected officials unlikely to oppose a law that claims to protect children from sexual abuse. Smith says, “A lot of sex offender laws come from the six o’clock news, from the random person who buries the kids in the woods.”Legislators like to look tough on crime, even when they admit the laws are wrong.
Iowa State Senator Jerry Behn, who authored the state’s original residency restriction in 2002, admits the law overreached when it applied to all sex offenders, rather than only dangerous pedophiles. But, Behn says, “anyone who votes to fix this now is going to be viewed as light on sexual predators.”Behn is despicable. To know the laws are wrong and to refuse to change them is wrong. This man has no place in public office.