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Posted on Sun, Dec 27, 2009 : 8:07 p.m.

Sex offender registry laws driven by fear, not reason

By Letters to the Editor

It is heartening to know that Matthew Freeman ("Pittsfield Twp. man struggles with sex offender label" - Ann, Dec. 15) and others with similar stories are coming forward, and that members of the media are telling of their plight.

Sex offender registries in Michigan and nationwide are growing by leaps and bounds. Sex offender laws implemented in recent years cast a wide net and catch many fish that are awarded equal status with the shark. It’s a system that offers no measurable gain, but creates substantial loss.

Taxpayer dollars are lost to pay for implementation of sex registry laws and oversee compliance. Taxpayer money is lost to fund prosecution, incarceration, or to manage the probation of “offenders.” We’ve lost a controlled and focused sex offender list to a watered-down version that makes it harder to target and prosecute true offenders. We’ve lost rationale and logic to what often amounts to a whipped-up frenzy of fear.

Most sad is the human potential and emotional health lost or diminished when individuals are unfairly demonized and penalized by inclusion on a sex registry. The stigma and restrictions put on anyone who appears on a sex offender list are creating a growing under-society of people who face serious employment, residential and social limitations, and who can do little, if anything, to rise above their circumstances.

Think of the craze to catch “witches” during the Salem Witch Trials. Think of all the “communists” of the McCarthy Era. Sex offenders - regardless of whether they truly are or not - are the latest demons to fear and persecute. One can only hope that more and more “offenders” follow Matthew Freeman’s example . . . that they step out of the shadows and work to bring understanding and change to the emotional force driving unjust and costly victimization.

Nancy Byers Saline


Neil B Fisher

Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:31 p.m.

There are over 1,000,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. California was the first State to start tracking offenders 1n 1948 and now in the year of 2010 California now has 88,000 personS in their Dept.of Justice sex offender registry. Now here is the meat of this comment; If anyone was to take the time and use any internet serach program such as Yahoo search, or Google, or Dogpile and type the heading "Sex Offender Myths" and then read through some of the sites there you will find a great many science proved truths relating to sex offenders. And then you will notice that after you read through some of the sites that give and show the true stats and true facts relating to sex offenders you will in turn figure out that the major majority of most of what we the people have been made to believe by persons in our state governments and through the media was was NOT! true and is NOT! true. We have been put through what is termed as scare tactics and fear factors to cause panic,fear,fright and hast in making and allowing for laws to be made and the only thing I can come up with for a government to cause to be made and or to allow to be made these laws is not to protect us and our children its more of making the state to appear not to be soft on crime (and sex crime of course)and by putting the more serious offenders with the lower type threat offenders in the same basket so to speak it makes the state to appear to be in need of more and better funding and new programs,and private donations and allows during election years for the get hard on crime platforms. My summry is for any and all persons to look at all the MYTHS,FALSE INFORMATION, MISCONCEPTIONS AND LIES using your internet search program under as I stated above sex offender myths and tell someone and for them to tell someone. Lets get laws made through the use of real information and truth and you can bet you and I and our children will be much safer and at the same time reasonable and proper justice and laws will also provaile to all thoes persons in the system be it a low, med,or high on the scoreboard sex offender. PS Here are a few examples of what you will find in sex offender myths; 1.The major majority of sex crime are committed by a family member of the victim NOT! some stranger jumping out of the bushes. 2. The major majority of sex crimes are NOT! being committed by registered sex offenders. 3.the major majority of all sex crimes are NOT! with and by the use of any force, fear, violence, injury, or threat. 4.The real and true dangerous sex ofenders are termed as "predators and pedophiles. 5.Only Three (3) percent of all sex offenders are termed as predator and or pedophile. 6.Only one (1)percent of all sex crimes are committed with a severe injury or death and are very rare. 7.Sex crimes are going down each year NOT!up 8. the major majority of sex offenders due to their crime being low threat and low profile did not have to go to a state prison. 9.Sex crimes are the least repeated crime. 10.The major majority of Sex offenders who vilated their probation or parole was NOT! due to a repeat sex crime. These truths are just the tip of the ice burg with regards to the amout of false info and myths relating to sex offenders.


Sun, May 16, 2010 : 10:06 a.m.

I am not a sex offender. I am an EX offender. I committed a sex offense in 1991 for which I agreed to pay for with 4 yrs incarceration and 6 yrs parole/treatment.I did. Released 2001.Since my crime in '91 I have not reoffended. Never will. In fact, have rebuilt a life as an artist and became known by peers as a positive contributor to the community. I will be a registered sex offender for life. Sometimes friends/associates fade away. Regardless of talent/contribution/efforts my success will always be limited. What gallery will represent me? What Arts organization will have me as a member? Sex OFFENDER implies I am still offending.


Thu, Dec 31, 2009 : 4:50 p.m.

There are a host of problems with the entire system to start with. Is there a list for people who stole at one time and now live near you? They might take my property again. Where is the DWI registry for those who made the CHOICE to drink and drive and now I need to worry when the next door neighbor is coming home from work if he is going to kill somebody in my family. Also, does where you live matter to committing the crime? If I live in say Brighton and am a sex offender, wouldn't the smart thing be to go to Ann Arbor and do your next crime? Tell me how that protected your kid. The fact is the state labels people sex offenders for many reasons and most of them are unjust. If you read the law, you could actually check id that says your partner is of age, and then find out they used a fake id and you are still a criminal. I also want to know if you are 17 and unable to make adult decisions in a contract, it would be criminal to have sex with a 15 year old. According to the law you both can not give contractual consent to anything. Finally, here is something that never gets mentioned. Why should you be punished further after you have paid your debt to society. Murderers do not have to do this.


Tue, Dec 29, 2009 : 9:51 p.m.

common sense, can't determine if your son is a good sex offender or a bad sex offender or whether he is even guilty of a crime. The age of consent in Georgia used to be 14 but was raised several years ago to 16. The age at which someone can consent to sex is different from the age they can be solicited on the Internet, usually 18. Georgia does have a Romeo/Juliot clause in their statutory law, but instead of allowing teens to have sex still makes it a misdemeanor. They kept it a criminal offense because of the Wilson case. GOOGLE Wilson in Georgia.

common sense

Tue, Dec 29, 2009 : 3:59 p.m.

Due to some high profile cases, a lot of misinformation, and many politicians willing to jump on any bandwagon to keep themselves in office, the sex offender laws and registry have grown to the monster we have now. Weve lost a controlled and focused sex offender list to a watered-down version that makes it difficult to monitor dangerous offenders. Weve lost rationale and logic to what often amounts to a whipped-up frenzy of fear. Taxpayer dollars are lost to pay for implementation of sex registry laws and oversee compliance with no proven effectiveness. Here is a personal story AND some hard facts. My son is in prison, and he will be listed on the sex offender registry in Georgia. It will be almost impossible for him to get a job, complete his education (he was a senior in college) or find a place to live. This was his crime: When he was 21, he went to a legal (must be 18 years or older) chat room and agreed to consensual oral sex with an undercover detective who portrayed herself as "a few years younger" than him for most of the conversation, and then stated, one time, that she would be 16 "in a month or two." My son stated, on the transcript, that he didn't want to do anything illegal, or with anyone too young. He went to the city where he was supposed to meet the female, but he thought better of it, and decided he really wasn't sure of her age, so he never went to the meeting place. My son has never been in trouble before, but, for all effective purposes, his life ended at age 21, because the state of Georgia will treat him just like they would treat someone who raped an 10-year-old. FACTS: 1. Georgia can expect to incur significant costs if the state implements the Adam Walsh Act. 2009 estimated costs = $15,481,191, Byrne Money Received in 2006 = $5,594,288, Bryne 10% funding = $559,429 2. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that only 5.3 of sex offenders (On the registry) released from prison reoffend. 3. Most people who commit sex offenses are first time offender In other words, they are not on the registry and could, therefore, never be considered a threat. 4. The MacArthur Found found that 9 out 10 times the arrest of a youth for a sex offense is a one-time event. 5. Registering people for consensual, nonviolent, and statutory offenses and activities overloads the registry and distracts law enforcement and the public. 6. Georgias Sex Offender Registration Review Board found that just over 100 of the 17,000 offenders could be classified as predatorsor, put simply, classified as dangerous and posing a significant risk to society. 7. Treatment works Washington State said that 2.7% of the sex offenders who did not receive treatment and released from prison were convicted of a sexual felony within six years while only 1.8% of those who received treatment were convicted of a sexual felony within six years. The registry is ineffective, causes terrible damage to men/women and their families and does not create a sense of safety for our communities.


Tue, Dec 29, 2009 : 2:46 p.m.

The problem with the sex registry is the net it encompasses is way to large. The intent was to keep track or clearly dangerous people. Namely adults that have committed some kind of serious illegal sex act with a minor. The way sex acts are defined though encompass things like urinating in public, having consensual sex in public, running the naked mile, and consensual sex amongst minors. Every person I have ever met is a sex predator by this standard. You can't tell me that a minor who has consensual sex with another minor roughly the same age should be ruined for life and is the type of person we as a society should really be afraid of. It is ridiculous that someone who gets caught using the bathroom in public should be ruined for life as well. THe laws are a modern day scarlet latter. People get labeled sex offenders regardless of the circumstances of their infraction, and all the sudden these people are doomed.


Tue, Dec 29, 2009 : 10:05 a.m.

I keep reading post where people seem to think there's a way to separate harmless sex offenders from "real sex offenders." And that the way the laws are written it includes too many harmless sex offenders mixed in with the real sex offenders and that waters down the purpose of the law. Well Maybe this is OK as some of the real sex offenders want this to happen so they are not made to look so bad. Let's see if a line can be drawn between good sex offenders and bad sex offenders. Before I even give any instructions as to how to do this I want to see someone else try. Good luck! Does anyone even know what a Sexually Violent Predator is? Ever heard of Civil Commitment? GOOGLE it. Would you believe in some states in American a person can be locked up for life for his/her thoughts? Wouldn't you think being locked up in prison for life for your future sex crime is far worse than being able to play basketball near a school or being restricted as to where you can live?


Tue, Dec 29, 2009 : 9:40 a.m.

I read the posts here and shake my head as I see myself three years ago before my son got into this nightmare over teen consensual relations and due to laws was listed as a assessment, no individual case bais, no laws based on facts and research just ignorance, hate and revenge with a one shoe size fits all policy! Folks please educate yourselves its truly how you protect fear a SO living next door? Well the registry will not tell you the story behind the face nor the damage being subjected to their family when they are complying to the laws...with men like my son (who is now off due to laws I fought and passed)on there how do yu as a parent know who to truly wach>? Who are the real predators? Can you tell? No its a simple fact because you are being misled to think all are monsters which is not true..I do not condone their crimes but they do deserve a second chance if not violent IMO..many may not agree and I understand but I too was scared and when I was forced to get educated and research this to save my son I learned the facts from therapists, DOC workers etc...visit read the file library or We have youths like Brandon doing sixty years in prison realize if we allow this to be civil law then more registries are coming as they will control all felons by civil law regulations and even me for more info thru my Talk Radio Thanks


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 10:07 p.m.

Sounds like another great category that Michigan is a leader in. But also so typical of the attitude in this state. "It's not my fault", has to be the system"

Alan Benard

Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 8:03 p.m.

It's so awesome how can let commentators libel one another and it's okay for them thanks to the law! Keep up the fantastic work increasing your page views.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 7:22 p.m.

"and aren't writing an unbiased letter." You realize brucea this is an opinion piece right? I would have however, appreciatted if the author would have included that info in the piece originally of course. I think this could have given a different angle then the usual posts of people on here who just talk to talk. Of course hiding that fact seems a little shady, but it's still an interesting piece.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 7:09 p.m.

@sha As you can tell by the comments here we don't agree with your position. And obviously you have an agenda and aren't writing an unbiased letter


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 7:02 p.m.

The fact that my son is on the sex registry does not negate anything I wrote in my letter. Our involvement with the criminal justice system, specifically as it pertains to sex offenses, has made me question a system I previously accepted, albeit with little knowledge. I hope my letter to the editor will discourage the same blind acceptance I had and stimulate an educational and insightful dialogue. Change is in order and this is where it can begin.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 4:18 p.m.

Sorry this "letter" is disingenuous at best. Check the last name of the author against the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. Surprise, the writer's son is on the list and for what? A conviction of Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree ( Incapacitated Victim) and Child Sexually Abusive Material-Possession. Now Mr Freeman may have a valid case to call for reforms. To have our writer liken this to McCarthyism or the Salem Witch Trials is preposterous and insult to this community and State. As to the conclusion "to change the emotional force driving unjust and costly victimization" I would certainly hope that the convicted off spring of the writer is not who she is alluding to. Would the victim of this crime agree? Please do not lecture me about victimization when the writer's son perpetrated an act that has been ajudicated and must now pay the price.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 3:11 p.m.

@bruceae whether you "want" him living next to you or not is completely besides the point.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 3:09 p.m.

Well, if Nancy is so worried about him maybe he can go to Saline and live with her. And being poor is no excuse for not being responsible for any of your actions.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 3:04 p.m.

bruceae: If you know anything about the juvenile justice system, you will know that once a young person gets involved in that system, especially if they come from a poor background, it is almost impossible for these young people to " get out" of the system without committing some other offense. Matthew certainly committed some other type of offense that will no doubt prolong his stay on the registry. What we are talking about is the fact that this young man should never have been included on the registry in the first place.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 2:54 p.m.

The writer "conveniently" forgets to mention that this criminal (Matthew Freeman is still on the registry due to his parole violations for theft. And I don't want him living next to me


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 2:45 p.m.

I would encourage anyone who is interested in this topic to read the article that Nancy referenced in her Op Ed piece. It provides a very good summary of the core issues with the current legislature,the cost associated with enforcing this type of law and the consequences the burden it places on law enforcement to truly supervise people who do pose a threat to our children. For those of you who need facts, it provides a very good statistical data. It is unfortunate that we have laws that are designed by their very nature to "criminalize" otherwise law abiding citizens and these laws become a feeder system for the corporate penal system in our country. I don't think anyone is talking about not protecting our children against people who are sex offenders and should be put into an environment where they cannot harm our children or anyone else. I think there need to be a national movement to change these laws so that people who otherwise would not be involved in crime are not criminalized by our laws.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 2:18 p.m.

I thought the sex offender registery was supposed to be for rapists and pedophiles. Not a high school romance gone bad. This is what is wrong with the justice system. Men should take the attitude they did at Michigan State about 15 years ago when date rape was so popular, don't date, don't be alone with women. If you are not alone with them it is not a he said she said. They should cancel school dances, sports and other things so that the "precious girls, who we know do nothing wrong" don't get hurt. Need to tell the boys this is what could happen if a high school romance goes wrong.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 1:46 p.m.

weather the laws "keep our children safe" is a theory with no way of testing it's validaty. You could say it "makes us feel better," which may be true but you don't know what it actually does. And again the bigger point, what if this persons crime had nothing to do with children? Then why do you feel better knowing he lives next to you?


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 1:42 p.m.

I think the title of "sex offender" is way too braod to have a blanket set of rules attached to it (if in fact that is true, whch I believe it is). What is to say someone who has a 3rd degree sexual crime against his wife shouldn't live next to a school or have to tell John Q. Public that he is a sex offender if he moves in next to him? What is the point of are these 2 things related?

Top Cat

Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 1:42 p.m.

No Sarcastic1, you are not crazy. You are a concerned and responsible parent. While the law may have its defects, it helps protect our children.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 12:50 p.m.

OK, let's look at this from another viewpoint. I don't have children and don't want children living next door to me because they cause problems and damage property. Therefore, let's pass a law that makes it illegal for children to live within 1000 feet of candy stores, malls, bars, golfcourses, singles appartments, roadways, and intersections. All children must register and attend school until 12th grade. If they fail to attend school they must be placed in state custody for treatment. Give me an adult sex offender for a neighbor anytime rather than a destructive child. Pets are a problem too............


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 12:03 p.m.

@Sarcastic No one would disagree with your sentiment. The problem is that the laws are written very poorly by legislators that have no other agenda than "being tough on criminals." They do not take the time to understand the unintended consequences but only worry about bashing their opponent so they can be reelected. If they insist on having these lists of offenders I would rather know where the 2nd and 3rd offense drunk drivers live. All of us are in much greater danger from them than we are from someone convicted of urinataing in public.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 11:52 a.m.

@Sarcastic Did you know that you can be added to the sex offender registry for urinating in public? A lot of those people are no threat to your children at all. But don't let that stop your fear and ignorance.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 11:25 a.m.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I want to know if a sex offender is living next to me, expecially when I am raising children. I suppose some like to live with their head in the sand, but I'm not one of them.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 9:18 a.m.

Please read the cover story of the Aug. 6, 2009 edition of The Economist (America's Unjust Sex Laws) and the "Briefing" section in the same edition (Unjust and Ineffective). These stories give an insightful overview of the situation in regard to sex offender laws.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 7:31 a.m.

Amen Nancy.


Mon, Dec 28, 2009 : 7:20 a.m.

Well as history has shown, it's easy to have rights taken away. Getting them back is really hard.