(2C:7-16) includes this critical language, which every state should have:
Misuse of Registry Information:
Consistent with this public safety purpose of Megan's Law, the Internet registry law expressly prohibits the use of registry information for the purpose of applying for, obtaining, or denying health insurance, insurance, loans, credit, education, scholarships or fellowships, benefits privileges or services provided by any business establishment (unless for a purpose consistent with the enhancement of public safety), or housing or accommodations.
The law also makes it a crime, punishable by a term of imprisonment between three and five years and a fine of up to $15,000, to use registry information to commit a criminal offense, and makes it a disorderly persons offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, to use registry information to commit any disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense. These charges would be in addition to any charges related to the underlying criminal act committed.
Courts have held, that the purpose of Megans' laws are to protect the public. Following the court's logic, some legislatures began to include that in their statutory findings.
The public on the other hand, has interpreted the courts holding in many contexts, forgetting this, Megans' laws are also meant to protect registered sex offenders, as they too are part of the public!
We need to remember, there are female and juvenile registered sex offenders, who also need protection from other sex offenders. Hence Megans' laws must be read to protect them
To interpret "protect the public" to exclude all registered sex offenders, would raise equal protection arguments in a court of law.
With those facts in mind we reviewed each state's Internet registry to see if legislators added anything to protect the listed registrants, and their families, from vigilantism or harassment.
Our findings have been that states have, all but ignored the rights of families of sex offenders, making them a class of their own. As you read the warnings you will find which states have given consideration to appropriate warnings.
Further, beyond "Warnings" as to visible or open acts of vigilantism or harassment, these classes of folks suffer subtle vigilantism by virtue of the exclusionary methods society applies in every aspect of life. I.e., Housing, Employment, and many others.
Determining a person's future community risk!
Why do risk assessment tools consistently fail communities?
Risk assessment "tools" are used to predict future recidivism, or the likelihood of recidivism. There are dozens of tools, each researcher has his/her own idea of what factors, should and should not be considered.
Researchers study and dissect offenders, they look for characteristics common to all offenders. Then arrive at hypothetical conclusion as to why, this one will recidivate, and that one may not, based upon -Researcher Selected- common characteristics.
The same tools are used to determine whether or not to civilly commit a person at the end of a prison sentence. Without any change these tools are also used to determine a risk level for someone already in the community. That risk level (LOW-MEDIUM-HIGH) then determines the level of community notification.
But they all miss the point, persons who have offended, regardless of the crime type, all originally came from a community, somewhere in our 50 states.
Throughout the United States are all sorts of communities small, medium, and large. They have schools, churches, doctors, dentists, shopping malls, entertainment centers, housing, health care, social services, and all sorts of things that make up communities.
In any community there will be folks who are well off, and others not so well to do. There will be people in high positions, and people in entry level positions; and there will be those who are homeless.
What is it that makes a community and its people grow, stagnate or lose all hope? That common thread is opportunity, a community characteristic. People must have the opportunity to access community services to satisfy their basic human needs.
However, there are some with human frailties, and some who have failed before, these may need the help of others, it is a community responsibility to recognize this too and respond.
What causes recidivism? The lack of, or withdrawal of, opportunity.
Without opportunity, people will resort to survival. This is a very basic human characteristic which cannot be ignored.
Researchers, like politicians and community leaders, stop looking inside the offender, and begin to look at "community opportunities" available to that person. That, will reduce recidivism significantly and make communities safer!
Remember, "If you find a man who is hungry and you give him a fish, he won't be hungry today; but if you teach him how to fish, he will never go hungry again; and, he pays taxes!" Sadly, if a community does nothing, he will survive, but how?
If you look only at the negative things about a person, and refuse to find their positive points, simply ignore them,
could you ever break bread with them, be their friend, or seek their help in your time of need? What does community mean?
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