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Sex offender registry

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A Sex offender registry (SOR) is a database of people who have been convicted of criminal sex offenses.

SOR in the United States

Various jurisdictions have different criteria for being placed on the registry. In the US, each state has its own registry database. Currently, there is no Federal registration database, but legislators are currently pushing for such a registry.

Limitations of Movement and Employment

SORs in the states typically require the registrant to notify their local or state law enforcement agencies whenever they change residency. In most cases, the registrant is not told of the full set of restrictions, rules, regulations or stipulations that might result in violation of the registry and charged with that violation.

Registries also have restrictions on how close registrants may live near places where children congregate. State lawmakers are constantly pushing for the expansion of limitations and movement restrictions, usually measured by feet from such an area.

Some lawmakers are pushing for what they call "Offender-Free Zoning"

Public Perception and Civil Rights Controversy

There is currently no other offense in the US that requires or even has such a database. Burglary, drug use, domestic violence, and manslaughter (to name a few), are offenses which are more commonly carried out repeatedly yet have no database to safeguard the public. The common justification for this is that these other offenses are "curable" whereas a sexual deviancy is not and thus it is needed for tracking.

Civil rights and liberal political organizations are constantly stalling what seems to be an inevitable trend of harsher and more stringent laws against offenders.

Minors on the Registry

Minors who commit sex offenses are increasingly being required to be placed on SORs. This current and controversial trend is making news nationwide, causing a few to rethink current policies regarding registration.

SOR in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom currently keeps a SOR. Whilst the public has no automatic entitlement to access there are already some trials in progress that allow limited disclosure. The News of the World has been instrumental in campaigning for a so-called Sarah's Law that would allow such limited disclosure nationwide. Another register, List 99, that concerns the teaching profession is being replaced by an Independent Safeguarding Authority.

An excerpt from Liberty explains the technicalities:

The Sex Offenders Act 1997, as amended by the Criminal Justice and Courts Services Act 2000 (SOA 1997), imposed a requirement on people convicted or cautioned in respect of sex offences, or found not guilty by reason of insanity, to notify the police of their name and address, date of birth, national insurance number, any change of address and qualifying periods of a stay away from home. This requirement was re-enacted with amendments in Part II of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (SOA 2003) which came into force in mid 2004. The obligations dealt with below are those that arise under the SOA 2003 unless otherwise indicated.
Although the requirement has often been regarded as creating a 'paedophiles' register', the definition of sex offences in Schedule 3 to the SOA 2003 (formerly Schedule 1 of the SOA 1997) is very wide and is not confined to offences against children or to non-consensual sex offences. However, for many of the offences listed, the requirement to notify is dependent on the sentence received. The requirement to notify the police of relevant details lasts for the time of the ‘notification period’ which runs from the date of conviction, order or caution and again, the length of the notification period depends upon the sentence received. These are set as follows:
Notification Periods for Sentences
Imprisonment for life or for more than 30 months or admission to hospital under restriction order
Notification Period: Indefinitely
Imprisonment for more than 6 but less than 30 months
Notification Period: 10 years
Imprisonment for 6 months or less, or admission to hospital without restriction order
Notification Period: 7 years
Notification Period: 2 years
Conditional discharge
Notification Period: Period of discharge
Any other
Notification Period: 5 years
Finite notification periods are halved if the person is under 18 when convicted or cautioned.
A person subject to a notification requirement must generally notify the police with the relevant information within three days of the date of conviction, order or caution. It will be an offence to fail to comply with the notification requirement, punishable on conviction by indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine or both, or on summary conviction, to a fine or a maximum of six month’s imprisonment or both.
The notification requirement has been found not to amount to a retrospective penalty in contravention of rights under Article 7(1) of the Convention. The requirement also arises in respect of sexual offences committed outside the UK where the offence constituted an offence under the law in force in the country in question, and would have constituted a specified sexual offence if it had been committed in England and Wales.
Disclosure and use of information contained on this register will be governed by the same principles set out above and, in particular, the right to respect for privacy contained in Article 8 of the Convention. ...

A breakthrough for British sex offenders was made in 2008, when the high court ruled that lifelong registration without challenge was incompatible with Human Rights legislation.[1]

See also