Your friendly neighborhood pervert
Check out this excellent column by my friend Lenore Skenazy on those registered sex offender lists. I don't know a mother who hasn't put her Zip code into one of those to find out how many sex offenders are in the neighborhood. In her typical contrarian fashion, Lenore (the creator of the Free Range Kids blog and book) suggests you knock on the door and have a chat with the fellow.
What you'll likely find is that there are tons of people on those lists that don't represent a real danger to our kids. The list includes 16 year olds who had sex with their underaged girlfriends and ended up on a lifetime registry. As she reports, "in 13 states you can end up on the registry for peeing in public. In five states, you can get on it for visiting a prostitute. Another 32 states register streakers. All in all, a study of 17,000 registered offenders by the Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board concluded that five percent of the people on the list were "clearly dangerous." It also determined that just over 100 of the 17,000 (1 in 170) were actual "predators" -- people who feel compelled to commit sex crimes."
It makes me angry when I think about how they have completely diluted the list to a point that's useless for parents and ruined lives in the process. Wouldn't it be nice if they limited the registries to, you know, actual predators?
This issue is coming to a head in Florida where the law limits where sexual offenders can sleep at night. In some counties, they can't live within 2,500 feet of a school or day care, leaving the registrants nowhere to live except under a bridge in Miami.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne