Sex Offender registration and notification programs are important for public safety purposes. Sex offender registration is a system for monitoring and tracking sex offenders following their release into the community. The registration provides important information about convicted sex offenders to local and federal authorities and the public, such as offenders name, current location, and past offenses.
According to Masters (2016), the 1994 Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Act, required states to implement a sex-offender registration program. Wetterling amended by Megan’s Law, required all states to conduct community notification, and required the creation of sites containing state sex-offender information. The Pam Lychner Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act passed in 1996. It provides for a national database to track sex offenders. The Pam Lychner Act shores up the provisions of the Jacob Wetterling Act, which requires state law enforcement to transmit sex offender data and fingerprints to the FBI, by establishing at the FBI a national database of released sex offenders to track their whereabouts and movement.
According to the article “Judges reactions to Ohio’s “Jessica’s Law” by Griffin & Wooldredge (2013), here in Florida, Jessica’s Law was created in 2005. It was designed to protect potential victims of sexual abuse, sexual violence, or any other sex crime. The law was implemented to help ensure that offenders of sexual crimes are publicly acknowledged, which is designed to prevent offenders from re-offending. Jessica’s law requires a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for adults who are convicted of raping or sexually penetrating very young children.
In the state of Florida where I reside, according to the Florida Legislator (2016), if you are a registered sex offender in Florida, it will be a first-degree misdemeanor to loiter or hang around within a certain amount of feet of any locations where children frequently gather. It is also a misdemeanor crime for any sexual predators who committed illegal sexual assault against children to approach in public parks or visit childcare or school facilities without notifying the staff beforehand. The law additionally restricts sex offenders from dressing up for certain activities without approval, like dressing up like Santa Clause or a clown which draws the attention of children.
Managing convicted sex offenders in the community poses extremely difficult challenges. That evokes more fear and public outrage and communities do not want sex offenders living in their area. One major challenge is letting these sex offenders in our communities not knowing if they will re-offend again and rape or molest children. Another challenge would be, if they do re-offend and molest a child, it is always possible that the child’s parent will retaliate against the sex offender, then that individual will possibly face criminal charges.
The establishment of publicly accessible registries which alert the community about sex offenders living among us so that citizens can take protective actions to prevent victimization is one of the ways to protect the community. I myself currently receive alerts when there is a sex offender around the community which is amazing because it allows me to take precautions around the area. Possibly, with proper treatment and supervision, many can live productive and stable lives. Unfortunately, I am not one to trust sexual offenders at all.
Christians should not be surprised by sexual offenders. Sex and violence have always been a part of the human condition because of our sin nature. We should also know that things do not seem like they are. As a Christian I want to believe that the registry is life-long but at the same time, we can’t be sure that these sex offenders are being watched. Some individuals re-offend, how, if they are supposedly being watched? If they were really being watched, wouldn’t the government know some way or another what actions the individual was going to take and would know that they were planning to re-offend? Yes, they may be registered as sex offender for life, but your name being in a system does not stop them from re-offending. I would like to believe things are being done right, but in this cruel world, you just must have faith and believe in God.