Monday, July 22, 2013

the sex offender registry fails...again

Hint to reporters: It is not enough to tell us that the suspect in the most recent Cleveland serial killings was a registered sex offender. Do the tiniest bit of research and tell us what the man's offense was. Was it public urination or violent rape? There is a difference. 

If this man did murder the three women found, why did the registry not protect those women? He was one of the nearly 30,000 offenders on the Ohio registry. He was tracked. Law enforcement knew who he was; they knew where he lived. 

News reporters glom onto that one tidbit--he was a sex offender!--about the suspect as if it is significant. It isn't. When reporters take the shortcut of using the label instead of the facts behind the label, they are trying to sensationalize their reporting. They are not providing useful information to their readers.

Over 750,000 sex offenders in the U.S., and this case makes national headlines. Why? It is news when a registered sex offender commits a horrific crime like this because it is so rare

The registry protects no one.

10 comments:

Snow Lover said...

Oh my dear. The registry does protect someone. The Federal and state workers (Hundreds?Thousands?)who maintain these sites and get paid with taxpayer money. More money from the offender...less money for the families. Oh that's right, I forgot. Our system doesn't really care about the families. If they did, there wouldn't be a registry - would there. I saw a man yesterday helping his young son on the side of the highway. Obviously couldn't hold it anymore (and it's not good for our bodies anyway). Think of the possible charges! Any law enforcement out there salivating at the thought? The proof of my theory is in the law itself. Arrest and ruin a life by putting the picture on the S.O.R. However, allow a motorcycle rider to ride without a helmet. But ticket a motorist who doesn't have his seatbelt on. Allow a teenager to have sex with who he wants, but make it illegal to take a picture of him. If God came out of the clouds and angels trumpeted his arrival, I would say "Please! Take me first" You could help those of us who are affected by the S.O.R., by giving us some quick one-liners to people who are brazen enough to ask us why our loved one is there. Thanks in advance

elle said...

You say that "News reporters glom onto that one tidbit--he was a sex offender!", yet only one of the three articles you linked to actually mention that the suspect is a registered sex offender in the headline. You would think if the desire was to use his status as a registered offender, they would mention that fact immediately, in big bold letters.

Furthermore, it takes about 2 seconds on google to find out why this man was registered; it is because he was convicted of rape. Again, if reporters were using his status as a violent offender to bring attention to their articles, they would absolutely include the fact that he had previously been convicted of rape.

While the fact that the suspect was a registered sex offender might not be in and of itself significant, the fact that he was convicted of rape and is now suspected of murdering at least three women IS significant; it is not unusual for serial killers to build up to murder by committing lesser crimes that are increasingly violent in nature before "graduating" to murder. So, his conviction of rape is very significant.

Finally, you say that "Over 750,000 sex offenders in the U.S., and this case makes national headlines. Why? It is news when a registered sex offender commits a horrific crime like this because it is so rare. " This case is not making national headlines because the suspect is on the SOR; it's making the national news because at least three women are dead. Suspected serial killers tend to make the news, regardless of their backgrounds.

Marie said...

elle, if you and I already took the two seconds to find out this guy had been convicted of rape, the reporters could have, too. If they didn't, they are lazy reporters. If they did, then they chose to 'glom onto' the sex offender label.

Identifying a serial killer as a registered sex offender, when that also identifies 750,000 other RSOs--most of whom did NOT commit violent crimes, is akin to identifying a serial killer as a "lover of hamburgers". So what if he loves hamburgers? So what if he's an RSO? You and I are in agreement that if it is significant, the reporters should tell us why. Otherwise, they are using inflammatory language. One need not go around the block very many times before realizing that "sex offender" is a term that inflames emotions.

CJ said...

I got this...I am about to solve the "registration protects no-one" problem.

Lock them up and keep them there. Millions of correctional officers everywhere agree!

elle said...

Marie, as you said, we agree that if a reporter mentions that someone is an RSO, they should also mention why. However, being an RSO and being a "lover of hamburgers" are not even remotely similar things. While one can be an RSO and not be a violent offender, every person on the registry has been convicted of a crime; loving hamburgers is not a crime. When writing an article about a person who is suspected of having committed crimes, stating that they have previously been convicted of a crime is relevant; what type of food they like is not.

sd said...

Do you have any credible sources besides backing up your claim with your emotionally fueled bullshit excuse?

Margaret Moon said...

@CJ
Of course the correctional officers agree! The prison guard union is the strongest in the US right now. It's recession proof employment and the men who are getting these ridiculous sentences are NOT gang-bangers, robbers, murderers, wife/kid beaters and are extremely easy to babysit. They don't start fights and they usually don't argue!

Margaret Moon said...

@elle
CP is only a felony because the legislature made it one. And using "Sex Offender" in a news article is a guarantee that it will get attention. Not long ago an obituary stated "Sex Offender Dies." He didn't get murdered, commit suicide and hadn't committed any crime in decades. He just died. Isn't that a cheap, whoring thing to do to his family???

elle said...

Aren't ALL felonies "only" felonies because legislature made them felonies? And I will reiterate my point above - these articles would get attention regardless of the man's registered or unregistered status; he is a suspected serial killer! I will also reiterate that in these circumstances, the fact that he is an RSO is significant. Those points have nothing to do with the article you referenced. They are completely different things. Perhaps the original blog post would have made more sense had Marie referenced someone being identified as a sex offender for no other reason than dying. The example she used, however, did not help her drive home the point she was trying to make.

Lori Dixon said...

I might have some sympathy if you alleged that your husband had been wrongfully accused, or if someone else had put the images into his hard drive...but you don't deny that he did it, and you spend time painting HIM as the victim here instead of the children. So are you saying that CP should be legal? Or that it is acceptable? If not, what could you possibly mean by saying "it's only a felony because legislature made it one"? Um, that is sort of how law works.