The sex offender registry (which is actually multiple lists, typically one per jurisdiction) has gotten a lot of bad press lately. Even on this board, there are a lot of mixed feelings about whether the registry provides the right balance of community safety and rehabilitation.
How would you reform the system? Be specific. There are plenty of screeds against the registry and how it’s supposedly destroying the lives of people who made one mistake. How can we work to alleviate the problem and let low-risk offenders reenter society while protecting the community from dangerous serial rapists and molesters?
You can’t just say “get rid of it, and that’s it”. You can propose reductions in severity or additional ways that an ex-offender could get off, but if you want to completely remove the concept of the registry from the law, you have to propose something to replace it. E.g. longer mandatory minimum sentences, more onerous probation terms (be specific), increased community screenings for sexual issues, etc.
Be reasonable. The concept of a sex offender registry is a reasonable one, and makes sense. The problem is that it has gotten a little out of hand and is being applied in cases where it doesn’t make sense. A 12 year old who “played doctor” with his 11 year old sister doesn’t need to be on the sex offender registry at age 40 and be barred from going within 1000 feet of a public park.
One obvious way of reforming the system is adding or enhancing individualized evaluations to cases whereby less-dangerous offenders are routed off the registry. The problem, of course, is defining rules for adjudicating cases that can be used fairly. What sort of criteria might be usable? Psychiatric evaluations? Time free with no offense (e.g. ex-offenders get off the registry automatically if they can go ten years with no additional sexual charges, or any felony)? Education (get a degree, get off the list)?