Listen to RM191: Is The Sex Offender Registry Immoral with TJump here
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Recording live from FYP Studios, east and west. Transmitting across the internet. This is episode 191 of Registry Matters. Hey guys, different show format this week, we were on TJumps’s debate channel, TJump is a philosopher, where he hosts debates about morality and critical thinking. You can find him over at youtube.com/TJump. You will be able to find the whole raw video where we debated him. Not debate, we had a conversation with him. He wasn’t an opponent of ours. He just he provided us a platform. And we were discussing the morality of the registry. And so I’m releasing to you here, the first part of it with maybe one or two questions that went on. They kind of got a little crazy after that. But if you want to catch all of that, certainly go over to the YouTube channel there and give him a look up. And we’ll see you guys next week. Have a great night.
All right, it looks like we are live. So Larry and Andy, thanks for coming on. I appreciate you taking the time to have a conversation with me. Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your program before we get started?
Sure. Let’s see. I guess the easy answer would be that I approached Larry. Larry is an expert about policy. And this isn’t just about the Sex Offender Registry. He’s an expert about policy, from all aspects. If you want a traffic light in your neighborhood, he’s the guy that will help you get it moved through the legislature so that you end up with a traffic light. Anyway, so I approached him about doing a podcast and he asked me, “What’s a podcast?” And we then built out a program so that on a weekly basis, we would cover issues revolving around the registry, either like as a first person or a second person or third person. I guess I should say degrees, first degree, second degree. Moving out, maybe there’s a criminal justice thing that if we would change that it would impact people that are affected by the registry. And so we’re almost 200 episodes now, which is 200 weeks or so given some breaks for vacation and whatnot. We have been releasing weekly episodes talking about court cases, people that have terrible, minor, minor infractions, and then they get locked up for an infinity number of years and just how really disgusting and overbearing it is that people end up on this, what’s called the sex offender registry.
Cool. So you guys started a podcast about the sex offender registry? And do you have a link or something people can find you? Do you have a website?
Of course. Registry Matters is the name of the program and it’s registrymatters.co. Same pretty much everywhere. YouTube channel is there. But you’ll find all the links at the website, which is registrymatters.co. Don’t ask how it ends in co and not com. It’s a long story.
So I had not researched anything about the sex offender registry until you contacted me, until we talked back in Georgia X number of months ago. (Andy: Yeah.) And you sent me a lot of really good information on our word doc with a bunch of question-answer thingies. Would you mind telling us about the information or the research you’ve done on the topic and why the sex offender registry is bad in your perspective?
Larry, why don’t you go over the history of where the AWA and the Jacob Wetterling Act come from?
Sure. The Sex Offender Registry, the modern Sex Offender Registry, was developed in the larger the 1990s. The state of California had enacted a registry in 1947. But in the larger scheme of things, the states came around to the sex offender registry in the 1990s at the at the behest of United States Congress when they passed the Jacob Wetterling Act in response to the disappearance and abduction of Jacob Wetterling who was missing for many, many years. They encouraged the states to develop means of registering and tracking those who had committed offenses against children. So that is the origin of the modern Sex Offender Registry. It’s been changed many, many times in h the intervening years since the 1994, when the Jacob Wetterling Act passed, and we now have something that resembles nothing like a registration scheme, but more like a punishment scheme. And that’s what our objection is if you want to sum it up, is that the registry is not just an accumulation of a database of names. It’s a way of restricting people in their behavior, what they’re allowed to do. And for the remainder of the their, most for the remainder of their life, even after they’ve paid their debt in full to society. They continue to be punished and restricted.
So my first question would be Larry is about after you serve a prison sentence, it isn’t always the case that you are essentially done, you’ve like paid your debt to society, you’re at zero again. Like there’s many cases where, like you have probation officers. You have a three-strike rule. You have like in many states, you lose the right to vote. So just serving a sentence, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve served your debt to society, you’re back at zero like any other citizen. So, I don’t see that that argument against the sex offender registry is necessarily supported. Because in the criminal justice system, after serving your prison time, you aren’t completely free.
I need to clarify, I’m not talking about just serving your prison time, I’m talking about you’ve served your prison time, and your probation and parole and all your obligations related to your conviction. The registry is unrelated to your… I mean, it is directly related because you have to have a conviction to be required to register, but it lasts beyond your sentence, beyond your probation, beyond your parole, beyond all that stuff. After you’ve paid your fines, it is something that lingers, potentially for the rest of your life in many states.
Is that different from losing the right to vote after you’ve committed a felony?
Well, in our country, there are some states where you’re forever disenfranchised, but that’s a very small minority of states. Most states, your right to vote is restored upon the completion of your sentence. Some states, it’s restored upon the completion of your prison time, not just your sentence. But in more states, the more common thing is after you’ve served and paid your debt in full to society, meaning your probation/parole. But in a few states, particularly in New Hampshire, and I think it’s actually Vermont and Maine but a couple of New England states, you never actually forfeit your right to vote. You can vote immediately. You’re never disenfranchised. But the general rule is after you do your time and pay your debt in full, you’re restored to your normal pre conviction status.
In Vermont, you can still vote while you’re still locked up even, right?
That’s what I was saying. There’s a couple states where you never lose that that right to begin with. But that’s a sliver of the 50. There’s only I think two, maybe three?
That would be why I disagree with your initial argument that simply serving your prison sentence and getting your parole doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re off the hook at that point, because there are cases like voting registration, that losing your right to vote that do extend past your prison sentence and your parole in many other cases of many other crimes as well. But like, the best argument I could make for the sex offender registry is that if sex offenses were a type of crime, that prison is such a risk to society, that they were different from other types of crime, that would justify creating a registry so people can like look up and be aware of the danger around them. But when I did the research after talking to you guys, I couldn’t find any evidence of that being the case. I couldn’t find any evidence that sex offenses had a higher recidivism rate or higher rate of committing crimes again. It actually seems like they have a much lower rate of committing secondary crimes, repeat offenses, as other crimes. And I found no evidence that the sex offender registry prevents future sexual assaults or so little that this is not noticeable by any of the data I found. And so even though I disagree with your first argument, I don’t think that simply serving your time necessarily invalidates some kind of future punishment established by the state for losing voting rights or whatever. I think that the best argument against the sex offender registry is the fact that as far as I can tell, it doesn’t work. And it doesn’t accurately portray criminals. Like because there’s lots of different ridiculous crimes that you can get you on there, like peeing in public in certain states, right?
Sure. Well, the voting, not being able to vote is not a punishment, per se. It’s a collateral consequence, so to speak, but being restricted in terms of where you can live, where you can work, what you can do. Not being able to vote doesn’t restrict you in any way where you can live, where you can work, who you can have an affair with. I mean, it’s just, it’s one small thing, it’s an important thing. But I don’t see that I can agree with your analysis that you continue to be punished. I don’t think anybody ever would argue that, having to report to a police station, and being told you cannot live anywhere, you cannot work, you cannot hold this job. You cannot have a relationship with this person even after you’ve paid your debt to society. All those things can be imposed on you, while you’re paying your debt to society. They can control where you live, they can control where you work, they can control all of those things. But once you have paid your debt to society, you should be able to reintegrate and assume your normal status as you were previously.
My objection here is that the “paid your debt to society” isn’t established by your crime time. Like the debt to society could go far after your prison sentence, like it could be a law could say that your debt to society includes your permanent loss of this right, right X, Y, and Z. And that could be a part of your debt to society if you’ve committed a certain crime, and that is established in many other things like losing your voting rights. So the fact that you served your prison sentence doesn’t necessarily mean you are done with your debt to society in the case of certain crimes and so the fact that your argument that because you’ve done your prison time and you’ve done your parole time, and there’s this extenuating punishment is imposed on you. That extenuating punishment would necessarily be beyond the bounds of what you’re owed back to society isn’t actually a valid argument because there are many types of crimes that do have extenuating punishments. And so the “serve your debt to society” argument doesn’t seem to be a valid argument to me, because there are cases where that debt can go beyond just a prison sentence and parole.
we need to, to iron out what, like, when you get a sentence that you are obligated to serve X number of years, whether that’s in or out with extra supervision. But once that time is over, that’s the end of your sentence, certain people get sentenced to superduper, long times life 10 life sentences, etc. But you end up with someone that has a 20-year sentence at the end of those 20 years. That is, that is what Larry is referring to is paying your debt to society. Yet someone that serves those 20 years will then have all this extra obligation of punishment. As far as I know, Larry, and please correct me if I’m wrong, nobody else has crimes like that. Once you’re done, you’re just done. There’s no extra stuff that goes on after your sentence is finished.
Well, there are some there are some occupational debarments that take place as a result of your conviction. But as far as having your liberties restricted, your movement restricted, I can’t think of a crime that imposes all the disabilities and restraints of the sexual offender registry, I really can’t.
Well terrorism would be one, but that’s not the point. So the point here that like the way this is a bad argument is because your debt to society is determined by the judges, not by your prison sentence. So once you’ve served your prison sentence, they can say you have an extra debt to society, you have to pay to be able to do that.
Ex post facto. No, it’s not.
Well, I was gonna get to that, Andy.
You literally can do that. That’s why people can’t vote in certain states. You literally can have an extra debt beyond your prison sentence. And that’s totally legal. But there are definitely conditions, I don’t think it’s fair, I think it’s wrong to do this. That isn’t a good argument, because there are lots of different crimes where you can have extra rights taken away beyond your prison sentence all the time, like voting rights is an obvious example. Terrorism is an obvious example, losing your citizenship, deportation. There’s lots of examples. So just saying that you’ve necessarily served your debt to society, therefore your debt is paid, and that you’re completely void of any other payment is just, it’s not a good argument. There are far better arguments. I agree with you. I don’t think the sex offender registry is moral. I think it’s a bad thing. This is not one of the reasons, though.
Sure. Well, mean, that’s the great thing about the country, you could have your opinion, but I can’t think of an offense where I mean terrorism, once you pay your debt to society. Again, when you’ve paid your prison and your probation/parole, the judge doesn’t determine… the judge imposes it, but the laws of the land determine what the available sentence is, and if the available sentence is 30 years, and that’s all they can give you. And when you’re done, even if you commit an act of terrorism, you’re free to go. Now they may deport you if you’re not an American citizen. But you would be able… I mean, Arthur Bremer, we talked about this. He’s the one that shot Governor Wallace in ‘72. He served his time and he’s free to go about his life. But anyway, I’m gonna buy your argument for the sake of this discussion. I would agree with you for the sake of discussion, but what about people who had no… You know when you commit a felony, you’re gonna lose your right to vote. What about people who had no idea that they were going to have all these disabilities and restraints that were imposed on them after the fact. They had no prior notice, which is the very essence of the Ex Post Facto Clause. You’re supposed to be put on notice in advance of what your what disabilities will be imposed on you, and what your loss of liberties and what your punishment will be. What about people who committed their sexual offense 30 years ago, and the law was changed, and all of a sudden they find themselves with all these restrictions that was no part of the discussion, that was not an informed decision. Is that okay, as well?
No, that would be illegal. So retroactive laws that apply to people, like if you change the law in the future, and then apply the change to people in the past, that would definitely be illegal.
It’s not in the case of the sex offender registry. It’s done all the time.
It’s still technically unconstitutional. And the Supreme Court has actually ruled on this against a few states who have tried to impose this. And so it is getting better. It’s improving. I definitely agree with you that this is a very unfair thing that is taken advantage from in many states. But the Supreme Court does seem to be moving more towards rejecting those laws.
Which Supreme Court? Not the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court has consistently when they’ve dealt with this – I mean, some state Supreme Courts have – the US Supreme Court has consistently said it’s okay. They said that in Smith v. Doe, they said that in Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe. And those are the two landmark cases, but the Supreme Court has largely said that the registry is okay. And it’s being imposed ex post facto, and they continued to constantly ramp up the disabilities snd restraints. And no matter how far they go, they seem to get away with it by and large, but with a few exceptions. There are some state Supreme Courts that have drawn the line. But that’s our whole point is that it’s never enough. The victims’ advocates and the law enforcement industrial complex, they never have enough disabilities, they never have enough of your flesh. They continue to change the rules. You’ve been on the registry for 10 years, you think you’re gonna get off, they change the law and say, “Well, now we require 20.” And they do that all the time.
Right. There’s lots of cases that go against it. But I have read many recent cases, like there is a unanimous ruling, the court said that the state’s requirement that sex offenders must register for life without any opportunity for judicial review violates due process. And so there’s lots of cases that I’ve read that actually have gone towards changing the sex offender registry, as well. Now, obviously, there’s lots that haven’t and have gone in the wrong direction. But there does seem to be progress made more recently going in the right direction.
Yes, yes. We’re making progress slowly through the courts, to challenge. But it’s taken a lot of a lot of years, and a lot of people being deprived of their constitutional rights, with very little recourse.
I totally understand that’s definitely super, super unfair, kind of like Jim Crow laws that was legal for many years in the United States. And it took many years to change that, and lots of activism. And so, I definitely appreciate what you guys are doing in the same vein as Martin Luther King and other activists fighting for the rights of people who do have their rights violated. And so I can definitely empathize with how hard your struggle is, and definitely how unfair the sex offender registry is, in many cases.
Certain states are significantly worse than other ones too that we already spoke about. (TJump: Is it the Republican ones?) I wasn’t gonna go there. Specifically, I was gonna say states in like the Northeast, are significantly easier than those that are in like the Bible Belt, which we talk about it pretty regularly, like the level of hypocrisy that that is of all about some forgiveness and whatnot, yet they have – and that’s just criminal justice in general – that they have the hardest prison sentences, that prisons are crappy, versus other places. Larry, you were gonna say something?
Now, you’re good, you’re doing fine, keep going.
Okay, that would pretty much end it. So is it blue versus red? I, you could probably make a very, very good Venn diagram of it working out that way. I don’t want it because California also has a very, very crappy registry. And that’s a blue, more blue state. So there are exceptions to the rule. But generally speaking, it works out that way.
What is your guy’s interpretation of the reason the registry was put into place when it was put into place? What was the goal of this as a legislation?
Larry will answer way better. But I think it comes down to the handful of super high-profile cases of the Jacob Wetterling and Megan Kanka, and I think that’s how it’s pronounced. I always screw that one up. But I think those are a couple of really high-profile cases, knee jerk reactions, and everyone says, we have to save every kid.
The Wetterling act in ‘94 was purportedly to have a readymade database of names because investigating a disappearance of a child, which was the driving thing behind the Wetterling act, because Jacob disappeared, those moments and hours can be very important. And the thought was that not having to go figure out who the people where that might be suspects – already having a list – would be helpful. So the first generation registries were not that intrusive. Basically, they were just a list where you had to keep your address current, kind of like young men that register for the draft. You have to keep your registration current till you’re 26 years old. But then they realized that they could inflict punishment without being challenged. So they ended up continuing to pile on more and more restrictions. It sounds really good. So the victims of crimes, and the advocates for victims and the law enforcement apparatus, they come forward and say, “Well if we didn’t allow the people on the registry to do X, Y, and Z…” and they just invent new requirements year after year after year. You know, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. And it never stops. And then Congress passed the Adam Walsh Act in 2006. Because of gaps in the Wetterling act. They figured out after nearly 12 years of having all the states with some form of registry, that some of the states really weren’t particularly interested in enforcing the registration requirements. Because if you stop and think about it, and I get hate mail for saying this, but when you stop and think about it, if people who commit sex crimes are as bad as you would like the public to believe they are and as dangerous as you’d like the public to believe they are, when they leave your state, you’d be happy. So what happened prior to the Adam Walsh Act was that states would be celebrating someone who was supposed to register when they concluded to the best of their investigative resources that they had left their state. So when you left Alabama and you went to Idaho, Alabama was happy because you were going to be committed whatever offense and misbehavior in Idaho. Idaho didn’t know you were there, so they couldn’t get your registered. Alabama was happy you were gone. But there was no incentive for them to… why would you want the person back so they could offend in Alabama? So you were celebrating their departure. Well, Congress said that no way to run a system. We’ve got states where they don’t care that the offenders have absconded. And there was purportedly 100,000 who had chosen to move and just quit registering. So therefore, they created a nuance in federal law in the Adam Walsh Act that allows the federal government to go apprehend people who don’t comply with the state registration requirements. So, if you leave Alabama, Alabama reports under the Adam Walsh Act that you’re no longer compliant, then the feds open up an investigating file and the marshals go out and track you down, and they will federally prosecute you. But what’s driving that is the belief that these people, despite the broad list of things that are registered, including consensual activity between folks that are of similar age, but not necessarily of legal age, there are so many people in the registry, but the average citizen doesn’t realize that. In preparation for this program, you probably had no idea that a 19 year old can be on the sex offender registry for life for having sex with a 17 year old consensually in some of our states, because that’s below the age of consent. And they may have a family together. And they may be prohibited from going on school property and interacting with that kid’s teachers and counselors because they’re on the sex offender registry. The average person doesn’t know that.
And there’s a number of things that I found very strange that you get on the sex offender act for. Like one was urinating in public, that just seems ridiculous. Why would you be put on the sex offender act for urinating in public? That doesn’t make any sense. Or taking pictures of yourself when you’re under age and having pictures of your own underage self on your phone can get you on the sex offender registry. That’s dumb.
Larry, remember the case we talked about on the podcast about probably 18 months ago? There was the kid that sent, I think he was 17, and he sent a picture of his junk to his girlfriend. So therefore, he possessed child porn, and was also distributing child porn of himself.
That was, I believe, that was out of the state of Maryland. And that’s a blue state. But the Maryland Supreme Court upheld the conviction because they said that they don’t make laws, they just simply interpret them. And that was the law that the people of Maryland chose to enact through their due process of electing their representative senators. And if the people don’t want that, they need to go about changing that law. It’s not for them to legislate from the bench. But that’s absolutely true. And possession and distribution of child porn is a very serious offense in most states, even though there’s no rape. See the average person thinks that this is a registry of rapists and child molesters. There are very few actually child molesters and rapists. There’s an awful lot of people for things like you just described. Urinating in public is kind of a bit overblown. It is a registerable offense. But that’s a very small number of people on the registry. It shouldn’t be there at all. And in fact, the Adam Walsh Act doesn’t even recommend, the feds do not recommend that that be on the list of registerable offenses. States choose to do it. But it’s not one that’s covered by the Adam Walsh Act, or even the predecessor of the Jacob Wetterling act. They never recommended that you register indecent exposure. But there’s so many things on there that you would never imagine that could get you in trouble. The consensual thing: when a parent calls me and they say, “My son, can you believe this? He’s 19 years old, and he was dating his girlfriend that he was seeing in high school, and he’s a little bit older than her. And now that he’s over 19, he’s charged with a sexual crime because her parents got mad.” I said, Yep, I can believe it. And, “well, that’s just not right.” I said, isn’t it the law of your state? “Well, I guess it is.” Well, you were for those who took advantage of children until it happened to your child, weren’t you? And it’s usually from lack of knowledge. Of course, that person would not have been for that had they known it, but the average person doesn’t know the breadth of what all is listed on the sexual offender registry. They have no idea that it’s not just rapists. Most of the rapists are actually in prison. They have no idea the kind of people that are on the registry,
Do you have like a percent of how many actually violent crimes are a part of the registry?
I wish I did. I struggle with that because of the way they define violent crimes. A lot of states will call something violent simply because the age of the victim, but yet there was no violence. But they list it as a violent crime. So it’s very difficult to really compose that data that you and I are looking for. Because they deem it violent simply because it’s the age. I mean, if you have sex with a 16-year-old, that’s a minor and you’re an adult, that’s a violent. No, it isn’t a violent crime.
Don asked, is it dangerous to be a part of the registry due to targeting?
Absolutely, there are people who are beat. There are people who are killed. There’s been a number of high-profile killings. And they do everything they can, they being the law enforcement, to disconnect from saying we don’t have any conclusive proof that it was because of the registry. But occasionally the person will announce that they’re doing the heinous act because the person is on the registry. I think the most recent thing we talked about was out in Nebraska, I think two or three episodes back where a person was sentenced to prison for targeting a person on the registry and killed the person. Wasn’t it just two or three episodes back Andy?
Yes, it was. The guy, well, it’s like six months ago that he killed him, but he just got sentenced to 40 to 70 years for killing. It was just a vigilante kill. A registrant moved into his neighborhood, and he didn’t like the way that he was looking around and went up to the door, had a confrontation with him, pulled out his gun and killed him.
So yes, it’s a dangerous thing to be on the registry, with the home addresses with such specificity. It’s essentially a target on your face and your forehead.
Is there anything that you think the registry could be used for? Like, if it was done well, what would it accomplish or could it be accomplished well? What, how would you change about it to make it better?
The reason why I’m laughing is because Larry and I talk about this pretty regularly of what a constitutional registry would look like. And that’s why I’m laughing.
I always worry about being constitutional. And therefore, you can do a limited registry, as long as you don’t impose punishment. So a constitutional registry would look like this: You would take their name, their biographical data, maybe their DNA, and you would tell them like you tell young men who have to register for Selective Service, that you have an obligation to report any change of your residence with us. Report that to us within X number of days after any changes. The people would be free to go and live their life, to be employed, to have relationships. And if they offend again, we would do what we do with any other crime, we would arrest them again and prosecute them again, and generally sentence them more harshly. The answer is, we would do what we do with other criminals. If you sell drugs to a kid, we lock you up. If you get out from prison, and you pay your debt to society, and you get off probation and parole, and you sell drugs to a child again, we lock you up again. That’s what we would do. So what I would do is make the registry a database of people. I don’t support it. But if I had to design a constitutional registry, I would have the database for law enforcement use only. We would not disclose addresses, and we would not impose any disability or restraints on people after they’ve done their time and after they’ve served out the duration of their sentence. While they’re paying their debt, if they’re on probation, you can have significant restrictions on your liberty, that’s a given. But a constitutional registry, you can’t do that. And you would not be changing the rules and enhancing the requirements after people have begun the registration period.
Don asks, what does it take to get off the registry? Do you know anyone that should be on the registry because they are so bad?
I’m sure there are people out there that are that are pretty bad. But again, if they paid their debt to society… I don’t use that as my standard. If they’ve paid their debt, they should be free to go about their life. So I don’t I don’t know what would justify who would deserve to be on the registry. The registry would end when your sentence ends in my world. And if you did any more than that, it would be merely an accumulation of names and biographical and maybe DNA and identification-type information. And best-case scenario, you would keep your address correct. But there would be no additional requirements on the person. That would be a constitutional registry. Did I get the question, right, because I think I might have missed a part of it.
Yeah, that was the second part. The first part was, what does it take to get off the registry?
What does it take to get off the registry? Well, it varies. Some states, there’s no way off. Like the case you referred to in South Carolina, that’s the state I think you’re talking about where the decision came down without due process. You can’t get off, it’s a lifetime obligation. But in states where you can get off, it’s a petition process where the person has to serve X number of years. And they have to file a petition and the standard is generally on the offender to show that they do not present a danger. That petition is served on the prosecutor of that jurisdiction where they were convicted. And the victim oftentimes has a say. If it’s not a victimless crime, the victim would have a say. If it’s a victimless crime, like for example, an internet sting where there was not an actual victim, then there would be no one to be notified. But if there was an actual victim, they would be notified. And they come in and tell their story. And a judge either grants the petition or denies it and then the person may be able to file again after a period of time, couple of years, up to five years before they can file again. So it usually involves hiring an attorney, expending money for a psychosexual eval, going to court and waiting for an answer. That’s what the process looks like if it exists at all.
So most sexual assaults usually happen between friends and family. Correct? And so simply knowing that there is some random person down the street who you don’t have any interaction with happens to be a sex offender wouldn’t likely prevent any sexual offenses anyway. So it doesn’t seem like in principle, the registry is going to be able to accomplish anything, except maybe in the cases of informing friends and family. But they would presumably know anyway, right?
Well, that’s a discussion I try to steer clear of to some degree because of that very reason. It’s hard to prove the absence of something of being a benefit. I don’t know how many people who have a neighbor on the registry who have taken extraordinary precautions and kept their kid away even if the person didn’t have a child victim. I don’t know that how many relatives have someone who might not have known but do know because they’re on the registry, and they’ve taken precautions. But statistically, it’s not measurable. We know that. Your research revealed that and we know that. We know that there’s not a way to verify that it does any significant deterrence. But it’s hard to say it doesn’t save one. But if that’s the argument, I mean, we could do a lot of things that would save one. I tell people over and over again, if it’s about saving one, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you some examples, that would save at least one if you want to trample the Constitution. If you’re okay with trampling the constitution to save one, we could start looking at gun restrictions. If you were to slow down the rapidity of firepower, these mass shootings, the number of victims would drop if you can’t shoot as fast. So that would save at least one. But people don’t want to do that. If you wanted to have routine random searches at night in people’s homes without any probable cause; just knocking at the door and saying we’re gonna come in, you don’t mind us looking around and bringing our dogs in to sniff for drugs. There’d be a massive amount of drugs flushed. And if you did that, for a period of time, you would have a significant diminishment of drugs. But that’s not a society I want to live in. And I don’t wanna live in a society where they impose punishment on people after they’ve served their sentence. But that’s what we do here.
Now, you said that a constitutional registry is one where they just record their names and data and say not to move or every time they have to move, they have to inform people that they’ve moved. But no form of this would be accessed by the public. No one else would have it other than the government. Correct?
I think that would clearly be a constitutional registry. How much beyond that we can go that’s for the courts to decide. But I think clearly, that would be a constitutional registry, if you went no further than that.
What do you think would be a good deterrent or something that would help deter sexual assaults that we could add to the registry?
Well, I’ve never really thought about that because I don’t want to use the registry as a deterrent. The registry to be constitutional, it can’t be punishment. That’s one of the tests of the US Supreme Court is it can only be used as a regulatory scheme to not impose any disabilities or restraint. So I don’t sit around trying to think of ways that we can deter people with the registry. That’s not what it’s for. It was designed to help law enforcement to investigate and eliminate the wasteful time trying to figure out who the possible suspects would be. So, I don’t I don’t think I’m really going to be a good one to answer that question. What could we do to deter people with a registry? Because I would never support anything in that direction.
You said that there’s different requirements and effects of the registry in different states. So if someone goes from a state where it’s very stringent to a state where it’s not as stringent, is that a way to evade some of the consequences of the unfair registry?
Yes, it is. And people do that, people do that very thing. They do state shopping, and they compare the terms of registration and the restrictions in the various states. And if they have that option, they move. The way to look at it is the state that you are registering in, since it’s a civil regulatory scheme, it would be like you taking your car from one state to the other. When you take your car from a state that is very lax on registration requirements, maybe they don’t inspect your car for emmissions, and they don’t worry about that type of thing, and you take it to a state that’s much stricter. The state where you go with stricter requirements would take over and they would be the controlling requirements. Well, the same thing happens in reverse. When you go from a state where the registry is lifetime with no way off, that no longer goes with you because that’s a regulatory scheme in Florida. If you go to another state that has a removal process, then they control that. So yes, people do that. It would be nutty if you didn’t do that if you had the option to get off of those restrictions and you had the option and the ability financially to move. I don’t know why you wouldn’t.
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One of the reasons that I wanted to bring us together though was to discuss about that if it is in a moral place because TJump often has conversations with folks about the morality of it. And we often talk about on the podcast of the overarching impact that the whole structure of it has on how people live. And only recently in the last about 18 months or so with people being isolated, people not being able to go out and about and people start screaming about all of their rights, and they start screaming about how the mental health aspect of being isolated away from everybody is so horrifying. And everyone that I know that is on the registry, they’re like, man, this is just another day in my life. So imposing all of these social structure restrictions, work structure restrictions, where you can live, who you can associate with, there is a huge impact on your psyche. And it seems like it then moves into a moral discussion about how much this is damaging for people to live. We are social creatures, but you make them completely ostracized from even like walking outside the door.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely immoral. Most of the things the government does is immoral. I think the important question is like, is it pragmatic? Kind of like the TSA. The TSA is complete garbage, it does absolutely nothing, protects no one from anything ever. But it makes people feel safe. And that safety that they feel does have an economic benefit. The fact that people feel safer at the TSA makes them buy more tickets, which causes the economy to grow. And so even though the TSA is a gigantic waste of money for the government, and does absolutely nothing to protect anybody, it does benefit the economy which is why we waste so much money on it. And so there could be an argument that maybe the registry does the same kind of thing where it gives people comfort, and makes them feel good. Kind of like religion does, it’s just complete arse, but it makes people feel more comfortable, which then has some kind of an economic benefit. So religion, even though religion is complete nonsense, it does make people comfortable, which has lots of positive psychological influences. So do you think that would be a potential argument for the registry is the fact that it makes people in society feel safer, even though it doesn’t work at all?
Do you get to squash my constitutional rights to make you feel good? (TJump: That’s what the TSA does.) I think that ends up to be different though because you are not required to fly. And that is something of a privilege. You can get there other ways by taking a bus or drive. And I realized that going from New York to California would be very challenging if you want to hop in your car for the 3,500 miles or whatever that is. But outside of that, just a person that is on the registry that is then… I don’t want to use Facebook as the example. But you can’t be on Facebook. Facebook’s a cesspool, but that is where everybody is, and you can’t be there. So now that is one level of ostracization. And then you move into where you can and can’t work and where you can and can’t live.
You can’t be on Facebook if you’re on the registry?
Facebook has, and most social media sites have a clause written in there, however you want to word it, it says if you’ve ever been convicted of a sexual offense, you can’t be here. Something like (TJump: Oh, wow, did not know that. That is, that’s definitely ridiculous.) But that’s private company. And I did a video on our YouTube channel that talks about this because somebody called and asked me about it. They were like, they shut down my Facebook account. He was running a Facebook marketplace thing. So he’s buying and selling, swapping goods, whatever. And that was the only way that he could figure out how to make money. And they kicked him off of there. But from my point of view, Facebook is a private company. I think it’s an a**hole decision. But they can do that if they want to because they’re a private company. It’s not a government-controlled entity. But could the government say you can’t use a road because you’ve been on the registry? You would have lots of problems then. But Facebook, like, okay.
I want to get back to what he said if you don’t mind about the TSA, and I don’t really want to divert the conversation to TSA, but it’s a great comparison because I think there’s merit to what he says. The registry does make people feel good. The average person, they’re so misinformed or uninformed that they think that the registry is doing all these wonderful things. And the same thing with the TSA. The TSA, I will never say it hasn’t saved anything. But I can say this, that with no TSA, there will never be another 911 done the way 911 was done because the passengers will never tolerate that again. They will never allow themselves to be a missile and flown into a building if someone tries to take over an aircraft. With or without the TSA, that won’t be allowed to happen again. But it’s a lot of theater there in terms of I mean, I have been fondled and groped at the TSA, probably more than any middle-aged white guy that I can think of. I get this because I wear gloves at the airport because I have a skin condition that makes me very susceptible to bruising. So, grabbing luggage, and being in places where I’m likely to bump my hands, I’m going to be bruised, and they take weeks to heal. And so therefore, I wear gloves. And I get randomly selected every time I’m at the airport to be groped and fondled for extra security. And they always tell me it’s random and I know it’s not random. Somehow or another, at some point down the line, they’ve noticed I’ve got these gloves. And I try to ditch them by the time I get to the screening point, because I know that I’m going to get singled out. But I get that special treatment and it doesn’t do anything to make the traveling public safer. All that theater that they do of having people basically strip and they go up and down your pant leg and behind your back and on your stomach. And all this stuff is theater. But it makes the people that are in the rest of the line feel wonderful. They think you’re a villain. And they think that they have just saved the aircraft they’re about to get on from an inevitable catastrophe. So, I agree with you on that. And that’s what the registry is. There’s a lot of people who feel good that there’s all these things. When the cops go door to door checking to see if you live where you say and they make all this commotion banging at your door making sure every dog in the neighborhood is barking. And if no one answers, they leave these bright orange flyers saying the sex offender unit was here. And they talk to the neighbors and say, “Have you seen this offender? We haven’t been able to make contact with them for at least three weeks now. And we’re kind of a little bit worried.” That makes people feel good. But the person hasn’t committed a crime in 34 years. Their crime happened in 1990. And they’ve been living a law-abiding life. They never expected to be on the registry until the law was retroactively changed. They’ve got a family. And yet they’re going through all this theater and that is exactly what it is. It’s good for public consumption. Okay, that’s enough rant.
Is there any other interesting points or topics that we haven’t talked about yet that you guys wanted to bring up?
Well, we did have a lot of stuff that was on the list, but I think you’ve covered a fair amount of it. Andy, do you see anything that wasn’t on the suggested list?
I do not think so. Why don’t we beat around about what registration goes over as far as the information that you have to give to the man, the Popo, depending on where you are and what your level is that you might go in… So many people, they just go in annually. And it’s just like you’ve been booked for a crime. I’m pretty sure that your fingerprints don’t change. Maybe in your lifetime, maybe from the time that you’re a wee young kid to the time that you’re an adult, your fingerprint probably modifies, but otherwise it doesn’t change. But you have to get your fingerprints taken. And you have to have your photo taken. And you have to give your address updates. And you often give your vehicle and so forth. And you give relatives, like you give a whole bunch of information for, as Larry was just describing, a crime that may have been committed in 1990. Here it is 2021. And now you’re still giving this information up.
So well, it’s really a humiliating experience because unlike a true civil regulatory scheme, where you would go… Most people, the worst experience of their life is going to motor vehicles. The average person hates that. The average person on registry, they would be delighted if that’s all they had to go through in the registration process is what you got through at motor vehicles, which is a bureaucrat that tells you you don’t have the right paperwork in order. But it’s so designed to humiliate. And to remind you that you’re a creep, that you go through that. But the more important thing to me, I mean, that is gross enough. But the more important thing to me, is the ex post facto that you may have not had any idea of what’s coming. A lot of people are on the registry where their crimes predate the existence of the registry, or the registry has had the requirements enhanced multiple times during their registration period with a continuation of adding more and more restraints on their liberty. That’s the most egregious thing about it. They continue to pile on, and pile on, and pile on, which is what the courts were beginning to look at. They’re saying, hey, you can’t keep doing that. That’s what happened in Michigan, with the Does v. Snyder, Snyder I and Does vs. Snyder II. Those cases were saying, hey, you just can’t keep changing the rules and putting more and more disabilities and restraints on people in a supposed civil regulatory scheme. So that’s what bothers me. And then these risk levels, they don’t really do a risk assessment. Very few states actually look at your individualized risk, because the Adam Walsh Act, the federal legislation in 2006 no longer encouragas that. They used to encourage you to look at the individualized risk, but now they look at your crime. So it’s based on the crime. And most states don’t even tier them correctly. But your tier three level may be inappropriate because your crime actually was not recommended by the feds to be at a tier three. But at a tier three, the public thinks you’re the most heinous criminal, and you may have simply had sex with a minor by consent. And that makes you a tier three offender because the person was under a certain age. And most states, they use a higher age than what the actual tier three requirements are. There are so many things where the registry, even if they were following the strict requirements that the feds have in their system for you to be deemed eligible for your precious federal funding, the states go way beyond that. They put requirements in like, for example, we talked about the indecent exposure. That’s not even a sex offense that the feds care anything about the states’ registry, but yet they do.
Don asked, can you talk about the restrictions the registry has on living areas near schools, churches and Halloween restrictions?
Great question. Now there are some states, like my state, where there are no such requirements. You can live anywhere you want to here and you can work anywhere you want to if they’ll hire you. And you don’t have those disabilities. But in most of the states there is some level of prohibitions. Now, your offense may not have anything to do with children. And the overwhelming majority of offences don’t have anything to do with children. I mean, I can’t give the percentages. But I’m satisfied from the 20 years I’ve been in the legal business that there are a lot of people on the sex offender registry that never offended against a child. But anyway, those are the typical restrictions. It would be schools, anything that they can consider daycare, or a school or place where children might congregate. They would be prohibited against loitering, which they define loitering very broadly merely being present. So, you end up where you can’t go to McDonald’s because there’s a playground there. Most McDonalds have the play land for the children. So therefore, you’re technically, in some of the states you’re in violation if you go to McDonald’s and want to eat inside the restaurant. But I mean, have you ever heard of anyone being molested at a McDonalds? I haven’t. Some of the school prohibitions prevent people from voting, because their precinct is at a school. So they have to vote absentee, because they’re not allowed to vote. It goes on and on.
There was a conference several years ago, there was an attorney that brought up a map of North Carolina. And they had, I guess, there were probably 1000-foot restrictions. And these are presence restrictions. These are places that you are not allowed to be present. And so one of them, maybe like at the legislative office, there was like an in-house daycare place. You can’t be 1000 feet from a daycare. But that’s the legislative office. If you wanted to go to talk to your legislator, that’s where they would be, and you’re not allowed to be in that space. I’m pretty sure I characterized that right. Did I get the details right on that, Larry?
You did. There are people who… one of your fundamental rights is to petition government for redress of your grievances. But the capital is off limits in some instances, because the proximity of the Capitol to that list of exclusions that you’re not allowed to be present in. Now, I would totally do what Rosa Parks did. I would say the day is not going to come when you’re going to prohibit me from going to my Capitol, so you’ll just have to arrest me. But most people are not willing to face the significant criminal act, which is a felony in almost all of our states. And it’s subject to habitual enhancement in most of our states. So you end up with a with dozens of years, or maybe 20 years for violating the registry, because that’s one of the places you’re not allowed to be. But if you can’t go to your Capitol and petition for redress of your grievances, then we’re in a sad state of affairs.
Want to be clear about something over on the discord side that someone’s asking about. We’re not talking about whether how long the punishment is, we’re not trying to necessarily talk about reducing that side of it. We’re talking about the registration side, you could be sentenced to an infinity number of years. That is what your legislative body has ordered you to do for the crime that you’ve committed. The argument, the topic, and the idea that we’re trying to present is that after you’ve served your time, that all the extra garbage that you go through is where the line gets crossed.
The registry is not a part of your sentence. It’s a collateral consequence. You are told that you will have an obligation to register as a result of this offense. But when you stand before a judge, the judge does not say, I am sentencing you to 10 years or 20 years on the registry. That’s not the way it works. The registry is an afterthought, and it’s a civil requirement that has nothing to do with it being pronounced upon you by a judge. The judge merely apprises you at the time of your sentence, if it was in existence, that you must comply with registration. But so we’re not arguing about your punishment, although I think the sentences are too long in America. We are the incarceration capital of the world. We have 5% of the population, and we have 25 plus percent of all the incarcerated individuals. There’s something wrong with that picture. But that’s a discussion we’re not having.
Yes. I mean, overall, I think I would agree with your position that the registry itself is horribly immoral, definitely, for sure. Way overblown. It doesn’t work, doesn’t prevent future sexual assaults. Most of the sexual assaults aren’t by people on the list. So, it’s not a good way to try and find arbitrators when a crime has been committed. So as far as I know, it doesn’t have any positive benefits. There are definitely some people in the chat who disagree fervently, apparently. But I think they’re probably wrong. Was there anything else you guys wanted to talk about? Anything else we missed?
I think I’m clear. Larry, is there anything else that you wanted to touch on Before we move on?
I think we’ve done a stellar job. And I appreciate the opportunity to be here.
Absolutely. Appreciate you guys being here and chatting.
Are we going to do any Q&A, though?
Yes. So, people in the audience, raise your hand if you want to come in the thing and chat, ask questions and stuff.
I know that there’s two or three or four people that have pretty interesting positions.
Nova has been bugging me on the YouTube chat for like an hour. He’s like, I want to come chat.
What do you mean, I’ve been bugging me for an hour? I’ve only been here for like 10 minutes. (TJump: Same thing. It’s like biblical hours, it’s fine.) Good evening, guys. Sorry, joining quite late. I’ll introduce myself. I’m part of the, of an online group called the International Investigation Central, which stands for the IIC. Basically, what we do is we catch predators online, and try to actually sentence them, which has been quite a success. Now the sex offender registry, now on one hand, I do agree with it. But on the other, I do get that it’s kind of rough, and can actually quite affect your life. But do you think it’d be any different if it wasn’t there?
Will what be any different?
Like, if the registry didn’t exist, do you think it would just continue?
Like, what are you asking would continue and what are you asking would be different?
What would be different if it wasn’t there?
Well, it destroys their lives. It wouldn’t damage their lives, that would be one thing that would be different.
We would be following the United States Constitution would be the biggest difference. And, as I said earlier, in the podcast, perhaps before you joined, what would be different, if people offend again, after they’ve gotten in trouble, we have ways of dealing with them. But we don’t do predictive behavior and we don’t restrict people’s liberties because of what they might do. We punish them for what they have done for a period of time. When that punishment ends, they get to go about their life, and we have to take the chance that they may commit another infraction. Like the person I mentioned that sells drugs to get on the outside of school grounds. We don’t restrict that person after they’ve paid their debt to society. They can live where they want to, they can go where they want to. If they choose to sell drugs again, and we catch them, we will lock them up again. But in terms of the thing about the, I guess you’re talking about internet stings. I vehemently oppose those. I think it’s a solution looking for a problem in my opinion. I’m in the criminal defense business. So I probably have this view from my experience of what I’ve seen. There are so many of these that are entrapment where the person thought they were an adult room, the person posing as an adult magically transitions to become a child, and they tantalize the person and convince them by pretending that they’re a minor. There are very few minors that are trying to have sex with adults. When you look at where there are really adults soliciting minors, where they’re soliciting a real child. Doesn’t happen. Very rare. But what does happen day in day out is we spend gobs of taxpayer resources, setting up these elaborate stings so that these guys that’re mostly men, very few women, but mostly men who are carrying on conversation thinking they’re looking for an adult date. And then what was an adult magically transitions to become a child, and they don’t believe it, but they’re tantalized enough by the very skillful adult that is misleading them that they show up for a meeting, and then all of a sudden, they’re charged with this crime. But that’s a solution in search of a problem in my view.
I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying in this case. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Chris Hanson. Do you agree with him?
I’ve seen many episodes of Chris Hanson. I’ve defended cases like what they do, what they did on that program. Absolutely. I’ve seen many cases,
So you would agree that that is a form of, you know, that that is a good thing by setting up these elaborate stings to try and actually get them off the internet and make it slightly safer?
No, I don’t agree with that. I just got through saying that. I said, I believe that it’s a solution in search of a problem. These are entrapment. But by and large, these are adults who are doing a bait and switch with guys who thought they were chatting… this is generalization. There are some creepers out there that’re looking to have sex with minors, and I don’t condone that. But I do not condone spending vast amounts of law enforcement resources and taxpayer resources to come in and convince a person that’s not looking for our child, that you really do want to have sex with me because I’m a child. But yet you were an adult when you started. I don’t agree with that. I mean, you have the right in this country to say that that’s a great thing. I disagree.
So would you be for legitimate online things that don’t pretend, like start as adults, and then entrap people by then transforming into children? If they are legitimately acting as children and don’t manipulate, would that be fine as an organization? If you could actually demonstrate that and had complete recordings of the entire conversation?
What we do is, most of the time, we keep it as safe as possible. We keep it as platonic as possible. We never engage a person, they always engage us. And if it does happen, we keep the conversation as natural as possible, and do not try and trap them into a corner where they are forced to say sexual things. Now, in case there is any imminent danger, or him mentioning something that might involve a minor close by, that’s when we do take action. That’s when we do pass along their information towards the law enforcement wherever they are at. Now, if they ever do something with that, I’m not entirely aware, because we never get anything back. But yeah, to be fair, I get where you come from. But internet sucks. I’ll be quite honest, there’s a lot of creeps on here. And then again, I do understand that not everyone is going to have sex with a minor. But on the other hand, don’t you think that enticing that even over the computer is slightly like not very normal and shouldn’t actually happen?
Was that a question you were asking?
Hitting on a minor and trying to entice them is bad. Don’t do that.
Well, it would depend on the age of the minor. If the minor is of the age of consent in whatever the jurisdiction is, then you need to change your law. If you think that I mean, most of your parents or your grandparents would be sexual offenders under today’s rules, because the age of consent has increased in recent decades. But I don’t want to be the moral policeman that says to a 16-year-old if that is in fact, the age of consent, in a particular state, I’m not going to be the one that tells you that you cannot have sex with a 24 year old. That’s not for me to determine if it’s a lawful activity. That’s for you to determine if it’s a lawful activity. But it’s like, I’m not the moral police.
So, in general minor was referring to people who is below the age of consent. If it’s above the age of consent, then it’s legal, and so you couldn’t prosecute them or do anything on them anyway. So by minor, we’re just colloquially referring to below…
And by minor, we usually mean around the age of 13 to 14.
Yes, that is young and it’s mostly under any minor restrictions.
I would agree with you on this. If If a person magically transitions from being an adult to a 13 year old, every person that’s engaging in a conversation should disengage from that conversation immediately. Unfortunately, they don’t do that. (Nova: It doesn’t happen.) It doesn’t happen. A lot of times, they don’t believe that the person’s a 13-year-old because they’ve been too mature to be a 13 year old. They’ve talked at a level that the person… I mean, they put on their act to try to sound like their 13-year-old. They say my mom is not here right now and all that kind of stuff. But most of them can carry on a conversation because they’re adults pretending to be 13-year-olds, but you should disengage. I agree with you on that. You should say you’re 13 years old. Now you’ve magically transition from being 24 to 13. I can no longer have a conversation. Well, you should block the person. That’s what you should do
And sadly, it doesn’t happen. And most of the time, it actually… not most of the time, but sometimes it does involve into actually acting up on sexual conversations, which is awful to read. But I do want to point out, we are not, most of the time, the people that we do use are actually around those ages, maybe one or two years older. But it’s not like fully adults. The only thing we actually do is we do look onto those conversations. Like we have accounts that you know, are just there for that. But it’s not as if we’re like, suddenly, you know, from a 24-year-old man to a 13-year-old girl. From the start on, it is already you are 13. And the person knows that within the first like 10 messages.
I think that’s a legitimate point. Not everybody who does the online stings is going to start as an adult, and then lie about their age and transition. That’s, I think that would probably be a minority of the people who actually do that. But it would obviously be bad if they did do that. That’s clearly entrapment. But I don’t think that would be all or the majority of cases.
No, I have seen it where actually a 23-year-old acts as 14 year old boy, and as you get closer to a victim, or to a person… It’s like, if someone says they’re 13, even if you’re a 14-year-old boy, or if you’re a 23 year old guy, just disengage. But some people will actually fake their age as a 14-year-old guy, simply to get close to that girl for whatever reason.
I got a Super Chat from Ethan. “I agree. Immoral. Should be limited in time and commiserate with the penalty crime also contradicts our laws against discrimination in hiring.”
I mean, on one hand, I do agree with that. Like hiring shouldn’t be affected by that. But it should be known that the person that you are talking to does have a past with that. Because if you hide that, and you know, it happens again, you could have like, prevented that if you knew.
Just out of curiosity. You said it’s 2am. So you’re somewhere over here across the pond? (Nova: Yes, I’m in Europe. Yes, that’s correct.) So you’re doing this over on your side, not over on this side? (Nova: Could you explain what you mean by that?) You’re doing it over on the Europe side of the Atlantic and not the US side of the Atlantic.
We have people that are also US based. I, myself, have a house in the USA as well.
Larry, are they breaking laws by doing this?
I don’t think so. But and if they’re doing it the way he’s describing, I don’t have any problem with that. If they’re starting out as being minors and there’re people as adults that are hitting on minors. I’m just not experiencing that in the work that I do. But if that’s the case, that’s not a problem for me.
It happens a lot more than you think as well. And it’s, it’s very sad to see. I wouldn’t even let my sister on the internet at this moment in time. Not on social media. Because there are a lot of people just don’t have the right intentions. And you never know what’s going to happen. And I agree that not everything is sexually related. Especially not everyone’s an 18-year-old guy that wants to you know, get close to a girl that’s like 13.
Anybody else wanted to ask anything?
I commend you for doing it the right way. I don’t see that on this side of the pond being done the right way. Of course, I guess since I’m in defense business, I only see the bad cases. But I’m not aware of the operations in my state or in my region being done the way you’re describing. So I appreciate that.
I have to go actually. I have another debate to go on. You guys can continue to hang out for however long Frank stays and keeps the room open. Thanks again for Andy and Larry for coming on. Really appreciate you guys taking the time to have a conversation. I will see you guys later.
I really appreciate being here.
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