Children getting life destroyed for committing a sex offense

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Children getting life destroyed for committing a sex offense

Nový příspěvek od simgiran »

This is a horrible thing.


C. was 11 years old and living in Michigan when he was tried in juvenile court
for touching, without penetrating, his sister’s genitals. Found guilty of
one count of criminal sexual conduct,[1] Jacob was placed on Michigan’s sex offender
registry and prevented by residency restriction laws from living near other

This posed a problem for his family—
Jacob’s parents were separated, his father lived in Florida, and Jacob could
not live in the same house as his little sister. As a result, he was placed in
a juvenile home. When Jacob was 14—and still unable to return home—he
became the foster child of a pastor and his wife. According to Jacob, the
couple helped him to “deal with the trauma” of growing up on the

Since his offense fell under
juvenile court jurisdiction, Jacob was placed on a non-public registry. But
that changed when he turned 18 during his senior year in high school, and his
status as a sex offender became public. Parents of his schoolmates tried to get
him expelled and he had to “fight to walk across the stage” at
graduation. Jacob attended a local university in Big Rapids, Michigan, but
ended up dropping out. “ harassed for being on the registry,”
he said. “The campus police followed me everywhere.”

In February 2005, at age 18,
Jacob left Michigan to start a new life in Florida and reconnect with his
father living there. Jacob worked for his father’s company for a few
months. He soon fell in love, married,
and had a daughter. A year later, he and his wife divorced, and Jacob was
awarded joint custody of his daughter. During this time, Jacob tried to follow
Florida’s sex offender laws, but continually ran afoul of residency
restrictions that required him to check-in with police on a daily basis and
provide them with a home address. At one point, for example, Jacob’s home
was too close to a school and he had to move. Another time, he failed to
register a new address after a period of homelessness and was arrested and
convicted of the felony of failure to register.

While court documents
describe Jacob as a doting parent to his daughter, Jacob’s wife came
under investigation by Florida’s Department of Children’s Services
in 2009 for not having electricity in the house. However, when the court in
that case learned of Jacob’s felony conviction for failure to register,
the judge denied him custody of his daughter, citing Florida’s Keeping
Children Safe Act and the fact that Jacob had a criminal felony conviction for
failure to register. Jacob continues to fight for custody and visitation but
cannot afford a lawyer because he has been unable to find a job. Now age 26, Jacob was
removed from the registry in Michigan in 2011, but remains on the registry in
Florida, and his life continues to be defined by an offense he committed at age


Jacob’s story is not
unique. Throughout the United States, people who commit sex offenses as
children (also referred to in this report as “youth sex offenders”)
must comply with a complex array of legal requirements that apply to all sex
offenders, regardless of age.

Upon release from juvenile
detention or prison, youth sex offenders are subject to registration laws
that require them to disclose continually updated information including a
current photograph, height, weight, age, current address, school attendance,
and place of employment. Registrants must periodically update this information
so that it remains current in each jurisdiction in which they reside, work, or
attend school. Often, the requirement to register lasts for decades and even a
lifetime. Although the details about some youth offenders prosecuted in
juvenile courts are disclosed only to law enforcement, most states provide
these details to the public, often over the Internet, because of community
notification laws. Residency restriction laws impose another layer of control, subjecting people convicted of sexual offenses as children to a range of rules about where they may live. Failure to adhere to
registration, community notification, or residency restriction laws can lead to
a felony conviction for failure to register, with lasting consequences for a
young person’s life.

This report challenges the
view that registration laws and related restrictions are an appropriate
response to sex offenses committed by children.
Even acknowledging the considerable harm that youth offenders can cause, these
requirements operate as, in effect, continued punishment of the offender. While
the law does not formally recognize registration as a punishment, Jacob’s case and those of many other
youth sex offenders detailed below illustrate the often devastating impact it
has on the youth offenders and their families. And contrary to common public
perceptions, the empirical evidence suggests that putting youth offenders on
registries does not advance community safety—including because it overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of
people to monitor, undifferentiated by their dangerousness.

Human Rights Watch undertook
this investigation because we believe the time is right to better understand
what it means to be a youth offender raised on the registry. Sex offender laws
that trigger registration requirements for children began proliferating in the
United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s. They subject youth
offenders to registration for crimes ranging from public nudity and touching
another child’s genitalia over clothing to very serious violent crimes
like rape. Since some of these state laws have been in place for nearly two
decades, and the federal law on sex offender registration is coming up on its
eighth anniversary, their effects have been reverberating for years.

A Policy Based on a Misconception

Sexual assault is a
significant problem in the United States and takes a huge toll on survivors,
including children. According to the US Department of Justice (DOJ), there were
an estimated 125,910 rapes and sexual assaults in 2009 (the most recent year
for which data is available). In an estimated 24,930 of these cases, the
victims were between the ages of 12 and 19. The DOJ study did not examine how
many of these incidents involved an adult or youth offender. Thus, we do not
know how many were similar to the vast majority of the cases investigated for
this report—that is, cases of sexual offenses committed by children
against another child. Nevertheless, the public and lawmakers have
understandable concern, even understandable outrage, about sex crimes. Sex
offender registration laws have been put in place to respond to those concerns.

The overlapping systems of
sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restrictions
were initially designed to help police monitor the “usual suspects”;
in other words, to capture the names and addresses of previously convicted
adult sex offenders on a list, which could be referred to whenever a new
offense was committed. In theory, this was a well-intentioned method to protect
children and communities from further instances of sexual assault.

In reality, however, this
policy was based on a misconception: that those found guilty of a sex offense
are likely to commit new sex offenses. Available research indicates that sex
offenders, and particularly people who commit sex offenses as children, are
among the least likely to reoffend.

Available research indicates that
sex offenders, and particularly people who commit sex offenses as children,
are among the least likely to reoffend.

In 2011, the national
recidivism rate for all offenses (non-sexual and sexual combined) was 40
percent, whereas the rate was 13 percent for adult sex offenders. Several studies—including one study
of a cohort that included 77 percent youth convicted of violent sex
offenses—have found a recidivism rate for youth sex offenders of between
four and ten percent, and one study in 2010 found the rate to be as low as one
percent. These rates are so low that they do not differ significantly from the
sex crime rates found among many other (and much larger) groups of children, or
even the general public.

A 2006 study of
approximately 250 Philadelphia youth sex offenders stated, “ex
offending as a juvenile does almost nothing to assist in predicting adult
sexual offending.” The study concludes that if the goal of registration
is to identify likely future sex offenders, it would be more effective to
register youth with five or more contacts with law enforcement for non-sexual
offenses than to register youth found guilty or delinquent of a sex offense.

Long-Term Impact on Youth
Sex Offenders and Their Families

When first adopted,
registration laws neither required nor prohibited inclusion of youth sex
offenders. However, by the mid-1990s, many state sex offender registration laws
were amended to include children adjudicated delinquent of sex offenses, as
well as children tried and convicted of sex offenses in adult court. The
resulting policies swept children into a system created to regulate the
post-conviction lives of adult sex offenders.

Children accused of sexual
offenses were caught at the convergence of two increasingly harsh “tough
on crime” policy agendas: one targeting youth accused of violent crimes
and the other targeting persons convicted of sexual offenses. In an effort to
protect children from sexual assault and hold sex offenders accountable,
lawmakers failed to consider that some of the sex offenders they were subjecting
to registration were themselves children, in need of policy responses tailored
to their specific needs and circumstances.

The harm befalling youth sex
offenders can be severe. Youth sex offenders on the registry experience severe
psychological harm. They are stigmatized, isolated, often depressed. Many
consider suicide, and some succeed. They and their families have experienced
harassment and physical violence. They are sometimes shot at, beaten, even murdered;
many are repeatedly threatened with violence. Some young people have to post
signs stating “sex offender lives here” in the windows of their
homes; others have to carry drivers’ licenses with “sex
offender” printed on them in bright orange capital letters. Youth sex
offenders on the registry are sometimes denied access to education because
residency restriction laws prevent them from being in or near a school. Youth
sex offender registrants despair of ever finding employment, even while they
are burdened with mandatory fees that can reach into the hundreds of dollars on
an annual basis.

Youth sex offender
registrants often cannot find housing that meets residency restriction rules,
meaning that they and their families struggle to house themselves and often
experience periods of homelessness. Families of youth offenders also confront
enormous obstacles in living together as a family—often because
registrants are prohibited from living with other children.

Finally, the impacts of being
a youth offender subject to registration are multi-generational—affecting
the parents, and also the children, of former offenders. The children of youth
sex offenders often cannot be dropped off at school by their parent. They may
be banned by law from hosting a birthday party involving other children at
their home; and they are often harassed and ridiculed by their peers for their
parents’ long-past transgressions.

Onerous Restrictions

Some restrictions imposed on
the lives of registrants are so onerous and labyrinthine, it is surprising that
registrants actually manage to adhere to them. Many do not. The consequences of
running afoul of sex offender registration laws can be severe. The crime of
“failure to register” is a felony in many states, carrying lengthy
prison sentences. The complex rules and regulations that govern the lives of
sex offenders on the registry are particularly difficult to navigate when youth
offenders, like the majority of those interviewed for this report, first begin
registering when they are still children.

Many youth sex offenders
never learn that they will have to register until after they accept a plea deal
and often after they serve their time in prison or juvenile detention. This is
especially likely to be true of children in the juvenile system, where there is
no clear legal obligation that they be informed of the consequences of their
admissions of guilt. Youth sex offenders are also sometimes subjected to
retroactive registration requirements for offenses committed decades in the
past—even after years of living safely in the community. Recent laws,
like the Adam Walsh Act, reserve the harshest punishments for those who target
children. Yet this means that it is often children themselves who experience
these harsher penalties, because their crimes almost always involve other kids.

It is unknown how many
persons are subject to registration laws in the United States for crimes
committed as children. However, in 2011, there were 747,408 sex offender
registrants (adult and youth offenders) in the country. What proportion of
these people committed sexual offenses as children is impossible to determine
from publicly available national data.

Human Rights Watch tried in
various ways to obtain this information, but to no avail. We requested data on
offenders registered for crimes committed as children from all 50 states. Two
states responded with aggregate counts but we were unable to determine the
percentage of total registrants these individuals represent. Our attempts to
use public registries to obtain counts were stymied by the fact that states and
the federal government do not independently track the age of registrants at
offense; moreover, state data may undercount the reality. Since the family members
of youth sex offenders often must abide by residency restriction laws if they
want to live together, the numbers of people in the US affected by these laws
is significant.

Faulty Assumptions About Youth
Sex Offenders

Faulty assumptions about
youth sex offenders’ tendency to recidivate are but one set of flawed
assumptions underpinning registration laws. Registering sex offenders and
publicizing information about them is predicated on the idea that sex crimes
are committed by strangers. However, evidence suggests that about 86 percent of
sex offenses are committed by persons known to the victim. According to the
Justice Department, 93 percent of sexually abused children are molested by
family members, close friends, or acquaintances. Registration will not protect a victim from a family member.

Moreover, early thinking
about juvenile sexual offending behavior was based on what was known about
adult child molesters, particularly the adult pedophile, under the mistaken belief
that a significant portion of them began their offending during childhood.
However, more recent clinical models emphasize that this retrospective logic
has obscured important motivational, behavioral, and prognostic differences
between youth sex offenders and adult sex offenders and has therefore
overestimated the role of deviant sexual tendencies in people convicted of sex
offenses as children. More current models emphasize the diversity among
children who commit sexual offenses, who in the great majority of cases have a
favorable prognosis for never reoffending sexually.

Registering youth sex
offenders is bad public policy for other reasons, including the fact it
overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor,
undifferentiated by their dangerousness. With thousands of new registrants
added each year, law enforcement is stymied in their attempt to focus on the
most dangerous offenders. Sex
offender registries treat very different types of offenses and offenders in the
same way. Instead of using available tools to assess the dangerousness of
particular people who commit sex offenses as children, most sex offender laws
paint them all with the same brush, irrespective of the variety of offenses
they may have committed and in total denial of their profound differences from

Not all states
apply sex offender registration law indiscriminately to youth offenders. In
Oklahoma, for example, children adjudicated delinquent of sex offenses are
treated in a manner more consistent with juvenile sexual offending behavior. There,
a child accused of committing a registerable sex offense undergoes a risk
evaluation process reviewed by a panel of experts and a juvenile court judge.
The preference is for treatment, not registration, and most high-risk youth are
placed in treatment programs with registration decisions deferred until they
are released, at which point they may no longer be deemed high-risk. The
programs and attention provided by the state to high-risk youth means that very
few youth are ultimately registered. The few children that are placed on the
registry have their information disclosed only to law enforcement, and youth
offenders are removed once they reach the age of 21.

Accountability That Fits

The harm that
people convicted of sex offenses as children have caused to victims of sexual
assault must be acknowledged, and justice often requires punishment. As a human
rights organization, Human Rights Watch seeks to prevent sexual violence and to
ensure accountability for sexual assaults.

accountability achieved through punishment should fit both the offense and the
offender. Good public policy should deliver measurable protection to the
community and measurable benefit to victims. There is little reason to believe
that registering people who commit sexual offenses as children delivers either.
Under human rights law, youth sex offenders should be treated in a manner that
reflects their age and capacity for rehabilitation and respects their rights to
family unity, to education, and to be protected from violence. Protecting the
community and limiting unnecessary harm to youth sex offenders are not mutually
incompatible goals. Instead, they can enhance and reinforce each other.

Human Rights
Watch believes that unless and until evidence-based research shows that sex
offender registration schemes or other means of monitoring youth sex
offenders have real benefits for public safety, persons convicted of sex
offenses committed as children should not be subject to registration, community
notification, or residency restriction requirements. If some youth offenders
are subject to these laws, they should never be automatically placed on
registries without undergoing an individualized assessment of their particular
needs for treatment and rehabilitation, including a periodic review of the
necessity of registration. Society’s goal should be returning them to the
community, not ostracizing them to the point that they and their families are
banished from any semblance of a normal life.
Naposledy upravil(a) Kasz dne neděle 5. 5. 2013, 22:33:41, celkem upraveno 1 x.
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Re: Children getting life destroyed for committing a sex off

Nový příspěvek od Tabitha »

Terrible shame.
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Re: Children getting life destroyed for committing a sex off

Nový příspěvek od Kuba »

Sad story. But in my opinion, this is not only about very bad law. Somebody had to tell police, that 11yo boy commit sex crime on his sister. Who did that? His own parents? How can that person live with that?
Světlo mého života, žár mých slabin. Můj hřích, má duše.
- Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (přeložil Pavel Dominik)
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Re: Children getting life destroyed for committing a sex off

Nový příspěvek od Kasz »

This is unbelievable, mad and horrible example, that victim is not the child who was "abused", but the child who "abuse"... Thanks, simgiran.
Československá pedofilní komunita – již 13 let s Vámi! ❤️💙
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Re: Children getting life destroyed for committing a sex off

Nový příspěvek od Tabitha »

Keep Juveniles off the registry.
Offenders can face decades of stigma in addition to serving prison or juvenile detention sentences, the report says.

The laws cover offences from the very serious, such as rape, to consensual sex between minors and public nudity.

The report says there is no evidence that listing youth offenders on such registries improves public safety.

Some of those on the registry were listed for offences committed while they were as young as 10 years old, says Human Rights Watch.

The Raised on the Registry report says that publicly listing under-18-year-olds who commit sexual offences violates their rights, so US authorities should exempt them from such registers.