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Among the Sex Offenders

Louis Theroux has spent the last few months filming a series of documentaries titled “LA Stories”, this particular film “Among The Sex Offenders” is the final episode to air. Louis takes a look at how California deals with sex offenders who have just been released from prison and how these particular individuals adjust to living in the outside world whilst being under constant scrutiny from law enforcement and now with it being so easy to find offenders in areas such as this via the internet, the public too.

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  1. My comments are as it pertains to Registered Sex Offenders. By stating the following, I am in no way diminishing victims’ rights or horrendous experiences. All victims have a right to be restored or made whole to the fullest extent possible. With that I continue: Some may not think there is another side, but that’s where closemindedness and a condemnation mentality become the driving force for new laws, revised laws as well as other policies which do not provide the intended result. Of course, if they do accomplish what they intended, they do so at the violation/infringement of the offender’s basic human rights. If it’s possible, please also consider the the registrants’ position.

    I am a registered sex offender (I openly recorded two minors, who were 16 years of age having sex). I was convicted of child enticement and received a prison requirement and extensive term of supervision. I wholeheartedly regret what I have done.

    I feel that I have paid my debt to society. I have served my prison sentence, made all applicable restitution and have been released from supervision/probation. However, I still have to register in my state for 15 years post discharge. This is where the sex offender registration becomes problematic. Sure, most would say that I only think it’s, “problematic,” because it’s affecting me adversely. That kind of statement is not considering multiple facts including but not limited to; The sex offender registry is overbroad, unduly administered, and frankly continues punishment for offenders even after they are discharged from their civil responsibilities.

    The registry, when first introduced was meant to keep track of sexually violent offenders, reduce recidivism, dictate where such individuals may live and what they can and cannot do. However, it has morphed into this beast that oppresses those who successfully complete their court ordered obligations. While arguments can and have been made that the registry is effective in reducing recidivism, counter-points and peer-reviewed studies have shown how the registry unjustly punishes registrants. Ultimately, fostering a mentality in offenders which effectively punishes success.

    There are no effective review processes officially set up in the sex offender registry. Instead, the states leave any form of reprieve up to the court (and not every state offers said reprieve). This ultimately, will cost the registrant tens of thousands of dollars should they desire to seek a review of their case with the court after they’ve completed their sentence. The lack of a review process adds to the burden which offenders face. As a result of not having a review process, there is virtually no delineation between offenders based on offense. Sure, California and other states have implemented a 3-tier system, but still a majority of offenders may be forced to register for life or pay exorbitant amounts to apply to be removed from the registry. This does anything but incentivize rehabilitation.

    The registry also does not take into account the offenders’ success while under the Department of Corrections purview, whether incarcerated or while under supervision. Again, this does nothing to incentivize rehabilitation.

    Countless laws are being passed without due process or consideration of how people governed by such laws will be impacted. In America, it is often the case where when something horrific happens, new laws are passed to prevent that thing from happening. These new laws aren’t being fully reviewed by professionals in the field. They simply get support from lawmakers, and a lot of the time are passed because who wants to vote for a lawmaker who’s soft on sex offenders—After all, we are all monsters.

    It is dangerous and unproductive to look at all sex offenders the same way. This is what causes the passage of under researched laws. It is vital to give someone who has completed—with success-their court ordered obligations most of their rights back. I’m not advocating for the right to bear arms for convicted felons here, but I am stating that certain constitutionally protected rights such as the right to travel should not be infringed upon. Yet that’s exactly—although unintended—what International Megan’s Law does.

    International Megan’s Law, signed into law in 2016, requires those convicted of a sexual offense against a minor and required to register in their jurisdiction to have an endorsement on their respective passports. Registrants are also required to notify their local registry of any intended international travel at least 21 days prior to their departure. At that point a series of contacts are made through many agencies throughout the US, which announce the intended travel of the registrant to the destination country(ies).

    Having said endorsement on one’s passport is the United States essentially saying;

    We can’t stop this dirt bag from travelling (because they have constitutional rights), but you don’t have to let them in your countries’ borders if you don’t want to. Oh, and by the way, if you want to interrogate them for hours on end and separate them from their travel companions, that’s totally fine too. We just ask that you let us know when sex offenders from your respective countries are travelling to the United States. Not so we can deny them entry, just so that we can keep an eye on them.

    I never considered—during the commission of my crime or through my court proceedings—that I would be effectively giving up my right to travel to certain countries. How could I have known. In fact, IML was not even in force during the commission of my offense.

    International Megan’s Law is a violation of Ex Post Facto policies set forth by our constitution. It does impose continued punishments on offenders post release by virtue of its notification requirements. These advance notifications, cause offenders to be denied entry, effectively restricting a registrant’s right to travel.

    The registry is also interpreted and enforced differently in each state. What one registrant can one state, they cannot in the next. The registry and its restrictions should be implanted fairly (considering the circumstances) and with uniformity.

    Finally, the registry has allowed local communities to impose restrictions on where sex offenders can live. Not just registered sex offenders, but those who have been removed from the registry. Study after study has proven no correlation to proximity to protected zones to an offender’s likeliness to reoffend sexually. Yet, for some reason most communities have all but banished sex offenders. In the past few years, a federal judge had ruled a Wisconsin municipal’s residency restrictions on sex offenders unconstitutional. I feel that this is the beginning of some major reform. But not if we aren’t able to find someone to speak for us.

    Please know that Registrants aren’t looking to be propelled to a stage and championed for our accomplishments in successfully completing sex offender treatment, or court ordered obligations. I’m not saying that sexually violent offenders shouldn’t be tracked/registered. The enactment of laws which inadvertently infringes upon our rights, is what I’m looking to change. We simply ask for the same rights to which other offenders are privied after they too are released from the court’s jurisdiction.

  2. This demonstrates that all people must not be classified the same. I hope that the programme makers do assist those who have assisted them in making money.
    I would not condone any sexual offence….but a criminal justice system that refuses to allow judges proper discretion in sentencing is a system where those who could be rehabilitated are denied justice.
    A pedophile will always be a pedophile. A person who has un-characteristically engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour is another thing all together.