Kids on the sex-offender registry: fuelling terror and ruining lives

Lenore "Free Range Kids" Skenazy talks about the insanity of sex-offender registries, citing the case of two fourteen year olds who sat on some other kids' heads and are now on the registry. For the rest of their lives, they'll have to register with the police four times a year, turn off their lights during Hallowe'en, live a set distance from bus-stops, schools and libraries and every potential employer will know that these people are on a list of "sexual predators" but will not know why. What's more, these kids' neighbors will be forever terrified to know that "predators" are in their neighborhoods. Kids as young as 13 have been added to these permanent blacklists, as have people whose "sex offense" was urinating in public or other minor offenses.
"These lists were originally conceived by most of the voters who cheered them on as lists of people who had some sort of psychological compulsion to sexual predation," explains Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. People assume anyone on it is "a permanent menace."

These guys are more like Dennis the Menace, which is why we have to change the criteria that land folks on the registry. These young men were never "predators." And as the years go by, the idea that they pose a danger to children will become even more ridiculous. When you're 20, 30, 40 -- 80! -- you don't do the things you did as a 14-year-old trying to impress your buddies. Why is Megan's Law blind to human nature?

If it were making kids safer, maybe we could overlook how obtuse it is. But a 2008 study found that, in New Jersey at least -- where little Megan Kanka, for whom the law is named, was murdered -- the law showed no effect in reducing the number of sexual re-offenses or reducing the number of victims.

New Outrage: Sex Offender or Teenage Jerk?

(Image: To Offend, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from vek's photostream)


  1. My nephew had a mutual love affair with a 15 year old girl while he was 18. The girl’s family, with the assistance of a now discredited DA, got him sentenced to 5 years in a state pen as statutory rape offender, and 16 years later, it continues to haunt him. He has been forced to move 4 times, once after buying a house and living in it for 5 years, when a day-care center opened nearby. He has never been in any trouble with the law in any other way. His marriage has been threatened by the Sex Offender law’s continuing extreme additions – including the inability for him to adopt his wife’s children from a previous marriage (this is after the original father abandoned the kids). There are true sex offenders and there are kids who made some bad choices while young, who should not have their lives forever destroyed by bad laws.

    1. Your nephew has my sympathies. The laws are broken and no one has the spine to fix them.

    1. That is exactly the kind of knee-jerk response that allowed these laws to become so overblown. I am in favor of the sex offender registries, but in order for them to be effective they should only include people who actually pose a threat to others.

      1. I am in favor of the sex offender registries

        I am not. They serve no purpose except to incite fear and incur costs associated with maintaining them, nevermind the abuses they’re being used for like the one discussed in this post.

        They don’t reduce sex crimes. They should be discontinued.

        1. You probably don’t have kids.

          Do they reduce sex crimes? Probably not. Are they a tool to alert you to possible threats in the area? Yes.

          That said, their usefulness is severely limited when everything is kitchen-sinked. Do I want to know about someone convicted of rape or indecent liberties with kids? Yes. Do I need to know about consensual relationships with minors, prostitutes, johns, or other similar crimes? No. Unfortunately, our approach to crime often lacks any sense.

          1. You probably don’t have kids.

            You haven’t the slightest clue whether or not I have kids.

            You probably kill prostitutes for fun.

            That statement is equally as justified as the one you made about me.

          2. Wow. Touchy. You’re right – I don’t know – and it really doesn’t matter.

            FWIW, I kill prostitutes for profit.

          3. I am touchy because your response to my comment was the *exact equivalent* to responding to an argument in favor of gay marriage by saying to the original party, “you’re probably a homosexual”.

            If you disagree with my position, debate the position, don’t throw out wild speculations about the type of person you think I might be. Whether or not I’m a parent has no bearing at all on whether sex offender registries make anyone safer.

          4. Why do you need to know that a previously convicted child molester lives next door?

            I’m serious — how does it help?

            When most molesters are family, friends, coaches, etc?
            When it doesn’t help against first-time offenders?
            When recidivism rates are actually very low?
            When the police are enforcing distance-based rules?

            Of the hundreds of people I’ve asked all this, they have *all* responded with some variant of “so I can extra-protect my kids” which given the high first-time-offender rates, means they are admitting to under-protecting them now.

            Assuming everyone is at least a *potential* molester is the only rational starting point.

          5. “Why do you need to know that a previously convicted child molester lives next door?”

            Because if I’m considering paying several hundred thousand dollars for a house, I want to know if I should have concerns about my kids being able to play in the back yard in their swimsuits or having a sleepover at the neighbor’s house. Am I prejudice? I suppose. If you have molested a child in the past, I’m not likely give you the benefit of the doubt to be alone with children in the future. Would you?

          6. So what differentiates that from a (former) murderer or burglar? Are you not equally worried about your kids’ life and your property?

            Thing is, either someone has paid their dues and is free or not. What you have now is pretty arbitrary, especially considering that indecent exposure, statutory rape (how’s that for a misleading name?) and in some areas archaic BS sodomy ‘crimes’ seem to be worthy of as much contempt as, you know, actual rape.

          7. No, I’m not equally concerned about a neighbor stealing my lawnmower as I am about him molesting my kids. Should young, single women have any legal right to know if there’s a convicted rapist living in their apartment building? Maybe I’m wrong for saying this but yes, I do think they should have that right. At the same time a person shouldn’t be labeled a sex offender for urinating in public or shooting the moon.

          8. re: “Why do you need to know that a previously convicted child molester lives next door?”

            Literally next door? I wouldn’t have any contact with that person. If I were a woman and he was a rapist, I would have an additional amount of diligence around him.

            Does it keep everyone safe? No. Does it prevent first offenders? No. Does it stop that fact most molestations happen via family members or known acquaintances? No.

            Do I still find it a useful tool? Sure. I am the last person to bubble-wrap the world – but I don’t see the harm in having easy access to who is a sex offender in your area (or violent criminal, for that matter). Of course the way things are set up right now, how good of a tool it is depends on several factors and it is by no means perfect.

  2. Perhaps time to consider that nature starts around 13, rather then think it can be suppressed by law until 18 or later?

  3. Sad but not surprising. Pass vacuous legislation to pander to, or incite, hysteria, then watch it be abused.

    Patriot Act, anyone?

  4. Word. My stepdad recently retired after years as a public defender in a midwestern state. He has lots of horror stories about people categorized as sexual predators for seemingly trivial reasons. Like the teenaged boy who sniffed his stepsister’s dirty laundry . . . he cautions that there are often backstories that make the seemingly trivial acts less trivial, but the consequences of being categorized “sexual predator” are indeed severe and often far out of proportion to the offense.

  5. How about keeping name off for 5 years and always until person becomes 18 while in school for juvenile protection. There has to be someway to distinguish parents get added for 2×15 yr olds vs psychological predators.

  6. This is one of those things that really upsets me. It really gets turned into sensationalism when the media gets a hold of these numbers if a child is missing or a crime has been committed. Like zero tolerance policies and the no fly list, this isn’t working. It’s not working for a number of reasons, the main one being that the list is simply TOO LARGE. That makes people scared/frightened, until some people figure out that public urination gets you put on the list. Still, most just think it was used as they thought it was intended, that is, serious sexual crimes against PEOPLE. Leaving out the morals and ethics of prostitution, being a prostitute or a john ALSO gets you on the list.
    I’m thinking back to the Holly Jones case in Toronto…I remember hearing one news broadcast (probably on others too) that stated there were “about 1000” sexual offenders in that area of Toronto. I thought WOW, that’s an incredible amount for a smallish section of Toronto. Then, I got informed.
    I don’t know what the solution is here. Two lists, 3 maybe? Maybe opening up the list so people can see WHAT people are on the list for. IE, using the earlier example of 1000 offenders, if 950 of them were for public urination, availing themselves of the service of a prostitute/escort, or other ‘low risk’ offenses…then the list is highly inaccurate, and people MIGHT actually call for the registry to be changed to ACCURATELY reflect the situation.

    1. I think a tiny step– that would go a long, long way towards stopping these kinds of abuse– is to simply allow sex offenders the ability to determine how much of their record is open to the general public, instead of having all evidence be completely and irrevocably sealed.

      This would mean that kids who peed on a tree in a park would tell everyone “Yeah, here’s why. Go to the courthouse and see if I’m lying. Stupid huh?” Serial rapists wouldn’t really be able to make use of this though, so no benefits there. And, as a happy byproduct, it would raise public awareness about how abusive the current system is.

      @Pinkerton I think there was a hint of sarcasm in there, mate.

    2. Well, no. There should be one list, and that list should be sex offenders. Prostitutes, johns and people who piss in public are no risk offenders, if we have already stretched the definition of ‘offender’ to include having sex and peeing.

      1. Lousiana puts people on the sex offender registry for being trans.

        A poor womon, arrested and jailed with the men, is often faced with a choice between pleading guilty or facing violence in jail before trial. Add in the perception that being trans is evidence of being prostitutes. Since Lawrence v. Texas included an exception for prostitution cases, prosecutors add sodomy charges and the sex offender registry.

  7. I think the sex offender registries are a good example of why zealous legislation is dangerous. People get in a frenzy and pass a law — which is virtually impossible to repeal once passed — before we actually know enough about causes and effects.

    Maybe laws should be passed with a required probationary period. If the law still makes sense 20 years later, when we have a greater understanding of the situation, then it becomes permanent…or something like that.

  8. It gives huge power to a DA when negotiating a plea deal — when they raise the spectre of Sex Offender status, or when they agree not pursue it, they can get what they want. I guarantee at least one innocent person pled guilty to supposedly lesser charges, simply because he was petrified of Sex Offender status.

    So, not unlike three-strikes legislation, it shifts power to prosecutors and away from judges.

    The registries themselves pose danger in two ways. First — and this is admittedly nebulous — a public registry can give people a false sense of security. It would be dumb to assume there are no predators in your neighborhood just because there are no red dots on the map. I’ve talked with parents, though, who do this.

    Second, in California the public originally had access to the registry, but only when visiting the local PD. Putting it all on the internet was opposed by many of the LE personnel who deal with sex offenders. Now, an offender can go online and look up new friends in his neighborhood. It’s like a dating site for perverts.

    All that said, at least here in California, there are different levels of offenders. High risk offenders get special scrutiny. Low-level offenders don’t appear on the online map. In my neighborhood, a guy was charged with 4 counts of misdemeanor child molesting, and 2 counts indecent exposure. He pled no contest to one count of each and there’s a restraining order to keep him away from his victim (who was 12 at the time). He’s in the database, but because his crimes were misdemeanors, his address isn’t subject to disclosure. In other words, he’s not on the map published online.

  9. It certainly should be the case that non-violent offenses by juveniles ought to be wiped off the record once they’ve done their time.

    There’s a need among legislators always to feel as though they are “doing something.” The sex offender registry (and the need to always modify and expand it) is on going example and the Caylee’s Law nonsense is more of the same. Is there *any* universe in which a requirement that you report a child’s death within a certain time (in some cases 2 hours apparently) going to stop someone who is otherwise intent on hurting their kid? “Oh, gee, I am going to kill my nine year old — oh, wait, it’s a crime to not report his death, so I’ll think it over.”

  10. The Economist magazine wrote an article that really opened my eyes up to this issue. What I remember most about the article is the amount of time, money and attention (think of the teenagers we’re discussing here) that go to relatively less serious crimes. The money and other law enforcement resources are being diverted away from some seriously dangerous people because of a scary lack of realism. Economist article:

  11. The Sex Offender List is every bit as useful and accurate as the No-Fly list!

    Which is to say, NOT AT ALL.

    Without the “Sex Offender” List, how would we know who was caught peeing on a wall in an alley somewhere? This is vital, VITAL information that the government must hold over your head forever!

  12. ” two fourteen year olds who sat on some other kids’ heads”

    I read this article on another website. What you are leaving out:

    They also placed their penis in the boys mouth.

    This happened away from school.

    So they aren’t schoolyard bullies, they are rapists.

    1. @shakespear Around these parts, we don’t mix in new elements to a story without providing a link

  13. The problem isn’t that people are placed on that list for urinating in public, the problem is the list itself. I can’t believe that someone could pass a law that punishes people who already served their time. If you believe the criminal is likely to reoffend, then imprison him for life, if not then you are punishing people who just want to leave their past behind, treating people like monsters is bound to turn them into monsters.

  14. I remember a programming design class I took. One of the slides stuck with me.

    Principle of Use: Programs will be used by people.

    Principle of Misuse: Programs will be misused by others.

    Principle of Evolution: Programs will change.

    Principle of Migration: Programs will move to new environments.

    Why did it stick with me? Well, in part, because it occured to me, the same principles, more or less, apply to laws:

    Principle of Use: A law enacted will be used. There’s no sense enacting a law that’s not intended to be used. This includes all the normal ramifications of the law – if the law allows charging a child who takes a nude picture of themselves and sends it to a boy/girlfriend as a child pornographer, it WILL be used to do that, at some point.

    Principle of Misuse: A law enacted will be misused by people for their own agendas. In this case, sexual offender registration laws can be misused to bully people into plea deals even when innocent, because the alternative is a lifetime black mark (even if what they want to plead guilty to ISN’T a horrible vile crime, but rather something like prostitution), and it can be used to preferentially discriminate against a class of people (transgendered people, as stated above). A good law should be structured to avoid this as much as possible (a good program does not necessarily have this restriction, as ‘misuse’ can simply mean using it in a way it wasn’t intended, and can be value-neutral).

    Principle of Evolution: Laws will change in ways that are not always predictable. For example, a law to make sex offenders register can be amended with different laws that add things to the class of “sex offenses”, and the rules can change for what people on the list can or cannot do. Each individual change may not seem like much but over time they can make big differences, not just in who it affects, but enforcement (a well-meaning law comes into effect requiring police to check once a month on every sex offender. There are thousands of sex offenders thanks to lax rules on what it takes to become one. It’s a small police force. The police are therefore required to spend a good deal of their time just checking sex offenders).

    Principle of Migration: A law enacted in one place will spread. Sex offender registries weren’t independently thought up in every place that uses it. They saw a law, and thought it would be a good idea. This applies to laws good and bad… people will not always see all of the consequences of the law, or ways in which their area may be different.

    I think the world would be a bit of a better place if people kept these principles in mind when making and amending legislation.

  15. I worked with some African refugees in Oregon couple years ago. One boy pushed another girl on the bus, his hands to her chest. He was charged and plead guilty to sexual assault on the advice of his public counsel. He was 13. Having spent literally his entire life in a refugee camp, he is now a sex offender in the US, land of opportunity. The system has no balance nor reason. Judges don’t judge, they rubber stamp.

  16. It would do a lot of good if people were to cease referring to it as ‘the sex-offender registry’ — this includes you, BoingBoing — and instead call it ‘the list of rapists, horny teenagers [who sext racy photos to one another] and people who pee in public‘.

    People who know what the list actually contains have, I think, a duty to educate the rest of the public to what the list truly is: a farcical solution to a serious problem.

    If people truly want to know who the rapists and child molesters are, they should be petitioning their elected representatives to have a list that specifies who the rapists and child molesters are. Included in those petitions should be the fact that nobody gives a FLYING FUCK who got caught peeing in public.

  17. It has been my experience that any law named after a past victim and passed in a flurry of emotionalism as was “Megan’s Law” is bound to be flawed and often creates new problems without solving the original one it was intended to rectify. This case is a good example. Another is a Jersey law named for a girl who was killed when a car full of kids crashed that now forbids teen drivers from having other kids in the car, and mandates a sticker saying they are teens so cops can stop them. So far this law has prevented no accidents and has been a source of harassment of young people.

    The boys who sat on the other kids should be soundly punished for what they did, as it was mean and stupid, but not forever. This law does not work, It does not really protect children, and it is too broad in application of who constitutes a danger of future sexual assault. I would say to look very closely before advocating the passage of another law named for a victim which is too broad in scope and does not actually prevent future crime.

  18. A friend of mine went to prison for 4 months on a plea deal for allegedly abusing his stepdaughter. He didn’t so it (he was the one who reported the inappropriate behavior of the stepdaughter) but took a plea deal rather than risk 15 years in prison under a law going into effect before his trial. This was 15 years ago. A few months ago, someone who didn’t like the school superintendent he was working for found him on the list and ruined his career. He can’t find work in the state now. Even people who are nominally convicted are not necessarily dangerous predators, or even guilty of what they plead to. It’s like branding someone, and it ruins lives without helping anyone. The tiny minority of people who are dangerous threats to the community need to be dealt with and followed closely. Many things I’ve done could have got me on the list, if I’d been caught or the wrong person didn’t like me, and I’m not a dangerous offender. I just had a typical young adulthood.

  19. I feel two sides of this issue.

    There are some crimes where a one-sentence summary doesn’t begin to give you all of the information you need to form an appropriate opinion (see Shakespear’s comment above). Still, the case of someone urinating in public, unless they’re trying to expose themselves, seems pretty clear. Similarly, I had a friend when in college who thought it would be hilarious, one night during a drunken naked party, to go get a Naked juice from the cafeteria, while naked. Could children have seen him? Yes, although he didn’t consider it. Was it inappropriate? Yes. Was he trying to intimidate or in some way upset or degrade another person? Not at all. Was he placed on the sex offender registry for life after being arrested during his on-campus one-block walk at midnight? Yes. From my perspective that’s unbelievable.

    At the same time, I would never do away with the sex offender registry. We have a large population of very sick people that we don’t know how to cure. They prey on the most vulnerable members of our society. One piddly research study means little to me at this point, because the benefits of knowing which of your neighbors has been convicted of a sex crime are obvious. If Cindy reads that the guy next door assaulted minors, you better believe she’s going to handle her children differently. This is an important tool, regardless of whether it keeps offenders from reoffending elsewhere. Furthermore, we’re experiencing a new age of openness about sexual violence against minors, an increase in reporting which these studies fail to account for. We need to account for problems associated with people being unfairly added to the list, not remove the list altogether.

  20. Laws that make no distinctions between transvestites, teenage romances and pedophiles are instruments of terror.

    Mobocracy: (n.) soccer moms and fundies trying to turn my country into Iran!

    If it hasn’t happened already, it’s only a matter of time before a single-digit aged child gets put on these lists.

  21. > You probably don’t have kids.

    I have a kid and I was also raped when I was 10. Sex offender registries are a terrible idea.

    Obviously we all (or at least most of us) want our children to be safe- but even if sex offender registries worked the way they were supposed to, didn’t give prosecutors too much power when plea-bargaining, and didn’t ruin the lives of people who had committed minor non-dangerous offenses, they still don’t keep kids safe and they promote a social atmosphere of hysteria in which it’s nearly impossible for sex offenders to seek help because the social stigma is too great.

    Want to take a truly powerful step towards keeping your children safe? Teach them not to tolerate violence or non-consensual touch, and don’t just give it lip service. Lead by example: don’t touch your kids when they tell you not to, even if it seems benign to you (like tickling) or is disciplinary (like spanking). Stick up for them when other people are violent with them, even if the person who was violent is someone you love (like their other parent) or if you encounter official obstruction or indifference (as often happens with bullying at school). Don’t tolerate violence in your own life. And don’t minimize or justify violence in general. As the cliche says: “children learn what they live”.

    > “two fourteen year olds who sat on some other kids’ heads”
    > I read this article on another website. What you are leaving
    > out:
    > They also placed their penis in the boys mouth.

    So here’s an example. Reading through a couple articles, it seems unclear whether the perpetrators penis went “in” or only “on” the victim’s lips, but either way, it’s sexual assault. Cory, I absolutely support your point that the sex offender registry is bad news. But I’m wondering if maybe it’s possible to amend your post in a way that still makes that clear without minimizing the violence that occurred?

    If you do decide to amend your post, here’s a link with a more in-depth account of what the court actually found:

  22. California’s registry has a photo, a detailed description and a list of offenses. The listings give you a pretty good idea of what you’re dealing with. If it were limited to serious criminals and the listings expired after a reasonable amount of probation, it wouldn’t be a bad tool. But then, I don’t favor releasing violent criminals.

  23. In Amerika it’s far preferable to pee your pants than it is to pee in public. At least around people.

    1. Thank you, Shakespear. I remember the case in the news because we had similar incidences of teabagging in the locker room at the middle school where I used to teach. It was very difficult to convince people that it was an act of sexual aggression. They would agree that would be so if it were girl who was the victim, but not if it were a boy.

  24. Registries are easy to avoid. 1) Have lots of friends. 2) make sure you travel for work. 3) Set up a “Residence” that you visit every so often throughout the year. Just enough to check the mail. Travel the country the rest of the year. Stay with friends or maybe have multiple properites. Get out, live life, see the world. This registry shit only scares those that aren’t creative enough to see ways around it.

    1. You make it sound like a no brainer. Most folks dealing with these laws don’t have the luxury of multiple residences or to cherry pick their jobs. Also, good luck getting a network of friends willing to have a sex offender live with them that much. Not to mention you could be charged with abetting a crime by letting them skirt the law. I don’t support these extreme laws but that is the screwed up system we have now.

  25. Life aint fair gumdrop.

    Also to, the reasons to move out of America are really racking up.

  26. Many common sense thoughts here — but how many of you will continue to march to the polls and vote for a politician who supports the draconian thinking that is not-so-slowly killing our quality of life?

  27. Since there’s no such thing as a worse crime than any and all forms of sexual assault (cause hey, everyone has the most emotive reactions to those, right?) – there’s no such thing as a penalty too harsh for these subhumans, yeah?

    All good Christians will agree that sexual predators are utterly beyond redemption and deserve a lifetime of their status tatooed on their forehead. Any innocents unfortunately thus branded for life as an inescapable consequence of a flawed justice system are just sad but necessary collateral damage.

    Us unthinking fuckwits need to ensure the hysteria is constantly cranked to fever pitch, or some folks might actually start putting their brains in gear and threaten our bronze age moral code.

  28. There was no sexual element to the kids unruly behavior. They should no be on the register. But if you get caught speeding (a danger to adults and kids alike) then you should go on the reckless driver register. And if you drink, you should go on the potential alcoholic register. And if you draft laws that “catch” the people you are trying to protect, you should be banned from practising law for life, and placed on the stupid lawmaker register.

    1. There was no sexual element to the kids unruly behavior.

      I don’t have the link because it was in the old comments, but yes, there was a major sexual element to their behavior.

  29. I think the real question is, why have judges allowed this law to be applied so broadly? It’s their duty to interpret the law. Aren’t judges suppose to have common sense?

  30. Actually it was stated differently, that it MIGHT have happened.

    The main thing they set out to do was sit on the kids head.


    “The trial court found that while the boys placed their buttocks on (or
    above) the victims’ faces, at least one of the boys’ penises touched the lips of
    a victim and might have parted the lips. Although that contact was unintended,
    it raises the act from horseplay and bullying to a more serious offense.”


    This was not someone being held down and forced to participate in oral
    Was this a stupid stunt?  Yep
    Should they be sex offenders? Most likely not.
    Will ruining these kids lives for LIFE make the world a safer place?
    Is that what the victim wanted?
    Did they need to end up doing a bunch of community service, and taking classes explaining to their underdeveloped brains that this was really stupid?  Yes.

    This most likely won’t be seen as you can no longer register on BB, or post Anon and all of the other comments from this thread are lost in the transition.

    1. “It just popped in, your honor! I was only trying to do some forced head-sitting, honest!”

      1. And I am guessing the victim of this was able to give his statement, and the court still found that it was not the intended action.

        The registry’s are a new scarlet letter, we are not happy that they have been in jail.  We need to continue to punish them and keep them out of society and then feign surprise when they don’t fit in.
        We add more and more things to the requirements to get on the list, giving DAs powers to get convictions to show they care, rather than actually protect society.

        Yes there are dangerous predators out there, but there are not as many as the hype would have you believe.  We currently live in a society where a father can not take his children to the park because he must be a pedophile!  (See the case of the woman who decided a father was stealing his own daughter in broad daylight and maced him.) 

        I think someone peeing in an alley, or mooning people need a ticket, not a life ruined by being labeled a sex offender.  We are a society terrified of our children seeing a body part and them becoming warped freaks.  The case of the woman walking her child to school, they walked by a house where the homeowner was in his own home and went to make coffee and was not dressed.  The mother flipped our and reported him as a pervert.  He was nearly convicted…  because he didn’t notice the curtain was open and because her SON saw another penis.

        We like the sausage of feeling safe protected from these perverts with every conviction reported, but we don’t look to see that the person we think is a horrible child molester…. yeah it was a 15 yr old who shoved away a 14 yr old girl and happened to push a breast.

  31. I was caught urinating in an ally. I had finished and zipped up but the puddle was still forming. I fought the charges and every time I didn’t take a plea deal, the charges were increased. 

    1. Urinating in public2. Attempted lewd conduct. WTF?3. Lewd conduct4. Indecent exposure (he never saw my junk)5. And then 6 months later, the police suddenly remembered there were “children in the area”.6. If I didn’t agree to the original charge, then it would have increased to “indecency with a child”, gone to trial and I would have been charged and registered as a sexual offender. 7. I agreed and had to pay a fine of $200.00 and entered a diversionary agreement not to walk through that particular ally for a year and then it would be erased. The  problem is, THE ARREST RECORED DOESN’T GO AWAY, NEITHER DOES THE STATE PATROL RECORD AND NOTHING STOPS THE REPORTING AGENCIES FROM STORING IT AND REPORTING IT. This happened in 1999 and I didn’t get a job in 2009 because the ARREST showed up in a background search.  All applications that ask “Have you ever been arrested” should be illegal. ANYONE can be arrested for ANYTHING, it could be mistaken identity, false charge, and you may be found not guilty later; but the ARREST still exists.

  32. some interesting comments were lost during the blog software switchover.. damnit I was following some of that.

  33. I can see both sides of this. My daughter was assaulted on a school bus at 13 by a 16 year old male. It was just tittie twisters and we thought, why make a big deal out of it and ruin his life, so we agreed not to press charges as long as he left her alone. He was already on probation for some other minor offense and right after that ended he broke into a home and stole a semi-automatic gun (similar to an uzi) and brought it to my place. I took it away from him after a struggle (don’t mess with a Mama bear) and called the sheriff. We put him in jail for the sexual offense til he was 21, and he’s on the registry (which helps me feel safer cause I can track his location).
    Sometimes these laws are to remove a dangerous person from society because it’s so hard to get long sentances for the stuff that’s REALLY scary, like laying in ambush with an uzi. I didn’t want to wait til he killed one of us to put him away.
    I think what that kid really needed was to get away from his crazy, bible thumping family. So the time in juvenille detention was actually good for him. He’s been out for many years now and we’ve had no problems, and it really helped me to know that he was closely monitored after his release.
    I hate to see such a useful law abused. Kids need to be allowed to be kids. When I was a girl, my Dad would have just beat the shit out of the guy, but you can’t act that way now.

  34. The fact is that there are 14 year olds who do belong on the list. Maybe the judge did a bad job of interpreting and thinking about the consequences of his actions, but these laws themselves aren’t wrong. A 14 year old who babysits and violently sexually assaults like 5 different kids DOES belong on a list. The simple message here is don’t do violent, evil sexual stuff.

    Also, I love BoingBoing, but this was framed in a misleading manner. Obviously if you just sat on someone’s head, it would be overboard to call it sexual. Upon looking into it it’s obvious there was a lot more to it than that…

    I’m actually pretty disappointed by this article – I feel it’s deliberately misleading and sensationalized – something I would expect from FOX but not BB. You’re violating a journalistic standard that you frequently write about here on BB. For shame.

  35.  While I agree that someone can be a rapist at 14, I think a lot of teenagers have unresolved rage issues paired with raging hormones that make them particularly dangerous at that age. That being said, there’s no reason someone that young can’t work past their problems and should end up on a sex offender registry for the rest of their lives.
    We really need to rework these laws. It is idiotic for people to be put on these lists for urinating in public or streaking and it actually dilutes the intended use of the law as people become aware of these unoffensive crimes landing on the sex offenders list and thus, stop taking the lists seriously.

    1. If the list program did have to be kept, I think it would be a lot more fair to have it listed a set amount of time, and for that time to be decided as part of the verdict. Like parole and probation.

  36. jimbell – While putting him on the list might have been a good thing in the end, I think the larger issue should have been how the hell he got a weapon.  I think there is something hugely wrong with a system that a tittie twister gets a longer sentence than laying in wait with a weapon.  There could be great debate about is the system working, and does it need an overhaul.Rather than the firm stance that every “criminal” needs to be thrown into jail and warehoused for as long as we can to keep us safe, we might need to look at alternatives for certain things.  In your case, he showed up with a gun… he needed serious help that it is very possible he would not get in the standard jail setting because the system is overflowing with people having pot and other “minor” things.Chas Warner – Judges do not always have the latitude we think they do.  Laws are passed “for the children” that have nothing to do with keeping kids safe, but use that as the awesome cover of being able to flog anyone who questions it as being pro-child molester.

    There was an interesting story on torrentfreak talking about copyright lobbists who use “protecting the children from being exploited” to push internet filters and other draconian measures into law that do nothing to actually make kiddy porn harder to get, but allows them to stop people sharing movies and music.

    ““My friends,” Schlüter said. “We must filter the Internet to win over
    online file sharing. But politicians don’t understand that file sharing
    is bad, and this is a problem for us. Therefore, we must associate file
    sharing with child pornography. Because that’s something the
    politicians understand, and something they want to filter off the
    “We are developing a child pornography filter in cooperation with the
    IFPI and the MPA so we can show politicians that filtering works,” he
    said. “Child pornography is an issue they understand.” Schlüter grinned

    Why do we think the Patriot Act got reupped even after the massive abuses of these laws against people not even remotely considered terrorists out to blow up America?  Because if you stand up and ask a question the media reports your a terrorist loving sympathizer, and the people who want the office for their own agenda will beat you to death with daring to wonder if this really was a good set of laws.

    We tack more things onto the the registry laws because we only hear its “for the children”.  Crack cocaine is prison, powder cocaine of the same quantity is not.

    Jill Harness – I think maybe there needs to be a system in place to see if this was a 14 yr olds hormones getting the better of the brain, or if this is truly someone who has real issues.  I think younger offenders should be allowed to have their record cleared at 18 or 21 if they are shown to be not a threat any longer. 

    boingboing – can we have back the other 56 comments on this topic please?  They are not showing up and we have lost a great deal of conversation.

  37. If me and a co-worked went into another co-worker’s office, pulled down our pants, pulled down our underwear, held them down, sat bare-buttocked/anused on their face, (and my penis breached the lips????) trust me, I would be arrested for some sexual crime. 

    When someone is doing something that I might do in the privacy of my home with another consenting adult, but they are doing it against that person’s will then that my friend is a sexual assault.The minute the undies come off (and the other person in the room does not want them to come off) a sexual crime is not far away.It is like watching cops.  If a shirtless suspect shows up they are going down hard.  Like a red-shirt on Star Trek…

    1. @boingboing-719d2ccacb8e04f0e1b815ae23479b33:disqus – you and your coworker are not 14 I hope.  This was horsing around between kids that went to far.  You have a concept of cause and effect, a 14 yr old can’t think that far ahead.  The comparison fails when you compare an adults actions to a childs actions.  This was horseplay, not 2 boys who stalked and held down another and then forced sex acts to be preformed.

      Should there have been punishment, by all means.  But that punishment should not be a scarlet letter on their chests that says Sex Offender.  No one will look past that designation, they will assume the worst that they sexually abused a baby.  But there are people on the list who – peed on a wall in an alley, cheerleader who mooned out a bus window, 16 yr old who was dating a 15 yr old and the parents objected, and a whole host of “offenses” that are not serious.

      Would you like your entire life judged by something stupid you did when you were 14?

  38. “f it were making kids safer, maybe we could overlook how obtuse it is.”

    You had me until you got to that sentence. No, we can’t overlook how obtuse it is no matter what other effect it may have.

  39. As, I think, Instapundit put it: “Any law with a dead child’s name on it is a bad law.”

    1. Actually, the real quote reads:

      But that’s a safe bet for pretty much any law named after a dead
      child. Not that this is stopping the geniuses in our political class:
      “The proposed law is now under review in over 30 states.””

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