California has the largest number of registrants at 103,534. That's what happens when all sex offenders in the state must register for life: only the dead drop off the list. That is, if we can believe that the list is up to date and names are cleared near the time of death.
Texas has the next-highest number of registrants at 87,189 and Florida follows at 68,845.
Those three states are the most populous, so maybe those large numbers make sense. However, if those numbers make sense, how can New York, only half a million short of Florida's total population, have less than a third of Florida's registrants?
What's wrong with Florida? Why does the Sunshine State convict its citizens of sex crimes at the rate of 340 per 100,000 Floridians but New York maintains decorum with only 150 per 100,000?
Even California--the land of nuts and flakes and Hollywood where we all expect crazy stuff to happen--convicts at the rate of only 240 per 100,000.
Does it make sense that Arkansas (515/100,000) or Delaware (503/100,000) has that many more people committing sex crimes? Is there something that makes sex crimes much less likely in Connecticut (149/100,000) or in Oklahoma (160/100,000)?
Oregon is shocking. Quiet Oregon--where tree-huggers occur naturally, like rain--convicts for sex offenses at the rate of 713 per 100,000. What the heck are those lumberjacks and fishermen up to out there on the west coast?
If Americans are supposed to be able to use the registry to decide who the dangerous people are, this map may help them understand that they have been sold snake oil. Cures all ailments! Protects children! Except, no, it does not. Sex crimes still happen though they are committed by people not on the registry.
If the registry were necessary because sex offenders reoffend so frequently, at some point its growth would slow down because the new crimes would be committed by someone already on the list. That is not happening.
New first-time offenders all the time but the laws do not recognize this reality.
Watching the registrant across the street means missing the sex offenses committed by someone not on the registry.
Preventing registrants from living near a school does nothing to prevent first-time offenders from committing sexual assaults inside the school.
If we could advertise how many people are on state registries, who would visit Oregon, knowing that the state has the highest rate of sex offense arrests? Perhaps then, state legislatures would begin to look at the kinds of crimes and the number of crimes that require someone to register.
851,870 registrants, unlikely to commit another sex crime, yet likely to be looked at with suspicion.
It is past time to abolish the registry.