Sex Offender Registration Laws

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Sex offender refers to a person convicted of crime or crimes involving sex which can also be rape, sexual molestation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, and unlawful pornography production and distribution. In some cases depending on culture and legal jurisdiction, consented sexual contact or activity between adults of the same sex is criminal and constitutes a punishable sexual offense.

Rape refers to forcible or sexual relations against one will or consent or unlawful sexual intrusion.

Sexual molestation refers to sexual acts or sex-related engagements with children less than 18years old.

Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome sexual advances, solicitation of sexual favors, or even verbal sexual utterances in a working environment.

Sex offender registration is an enactment put in place in various countries to keep track of the residence and activities of a sex offender. It is a requirement for every convicted sex offender to register with this body to ensure government authorities keep track of their movements and engagements. The registry keeps databases of all convicted sex offenders and makes them available to the public either through the internet or any other possible means including local community notifications and newspapers though in some localities the list is only made available to the police to ensure the general public is made aware of the danger posed by any engagement with these people. In the United States of America, convicted sex offenders are banned from living in schools and children’s daycare center vicinities and even subject to further restrictions like housing preferences.

The Past Present and Future of the Registration Laws

This body has been in operation for some time now in the country and California is believed to be the pioneer of this enactment. The program was passed in 1947, but information on released sex offenders which included; their photographs, age, and their residences, was never made public until 1994 when the federal government passed an enactment, which came to be referred to as the Jacob Wetterling Act in honor of its proponent, requiring all the states to pass legislation mandating all convicted sex offenders to register with respective sex offender registries in their states of residence.

In 1996, Megan’s laws were enacted aimed at punishing the sex offenders and reducing the probability of a repeat of the heinous act. This would be achieved through the provision of certain information on sex offenders to the public, and it has since been affirmed by the supreme court of the United States.

In mid-2006, the then president of the United States of America signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act into law. The law organizes sex offenders into levels 1, 2, and 3. The three levels have different conditions of registration and failure to honor the conditions is tantamount to a felony under the law and may result in lifetime imprisonment. The third level is deemed the most serious level, offenders and is required by the enactment to update their whereabouts after every 3 months and lifetime registration with the offender’s registries, the second level should update their whereabouts after every six months and a 25 years registration with the registries while level one offenders are supposed to update their whereabouts after every year and fifteen years registration with the registries. The law also seeks to mandate all states to adopt a uniform way of posting the offender’s details on the internet and also create a nationwide sex offender registry to ensure the information is available to every citizen in the United States of America.

California voters passed the preposition 83 in 2006, aimed at enforcing lifetime monitoring of convicted sexual predators and creation of predator-free zones (California election results, 2006), though it was challenged and found not to apply retroactively by the Central District of California Court in Sacramento.

There is a strong likelihood of a bill in the general assembly being passed then, registered sex offenders could be banned from more places since the bill seeks to change the existing rule that keeps them 300feet from places primarily dealing with children like children daycare centers and schools (Hartness, 2009).

The bill also seeks to lessen restrictions on convicted sex offenders who have children, to make it possible for them to drop or pick their children from schools however it has not been established yet how near or longer they should stay at these restricted areas.

Supreme courts in Hawaii and Missouri have had varying opinions about the enactments and argue that their threat or danger to society should be predetermined before they are condemned to public disclosure. For people convicted before the enactment of these laws, the state of Missouri views it unlawful to include their names in the sex offenders registry list and the state’s constitution still prohibits enforcement requiring registered sex offenders to move from their homes simply because they are located within 1000 feet to a school.

The magnitude of implementation of these laws vary in each state for example if a convicted sex offender moves into Kentucky, the law requires they register with the state for life irrespective of whether they were registered in their state of origin.

The state of Missouri has restricted registered sex offenders from attending Halloween parties or taking any part in Halloween-related contact with the children.

In some states like California, there are other crimes whose punishment is equivalent to the sexual offenders’ like drug offenders dealing with either heroin or Marijuana sales to minors in school compounds but their registration is somehow lenient compared to the latter’s for it expires 5years after completion of probation or parole period.


The progression of the sex offender laws remains controversial and seems to alienate people who have undergone corrective rehabilitation thus does not give the ex-convicts a chance to be integrated back into society.

The main purpose of having the registries is to reduce sex offenses and make societies safer, but there is enough evidence that the sex offender registry has grown beyond the expectations making it hard for the authorities to manage. This has been attributed to petty registration in that, the list is said to include people who had a consensual agreement for example prostitutes, underage teenagers having agreed sex, or even the under age exchanging nude photographs of themselves.

There are instances where public disclosure of the sex offenders has led to death, though the registration is made to make the public aware of the dangers posed by the former. I strongly feel if only the police were being made aware of the list, these kinds of inhumanities would not re-occur in the future.

The listing of offenders has rendered them lesser in the community for it reduces their chances of employment considering they have to stay away from children, looked down upon by the communities they choose to live in and worse still in some cultures once found guilty of this kind of offenses you are put on death, either through immolation, drowning, decapitation or even through hang, all this have no aspect of rehabilitation. Studies show some programs are effective in helping convicted sex offenders from recidivism through the application of behavior analysis which instills a change in behavior (Marshal, et. al., 1991), it is, therefore, appropriate to adopt these programs to uphold the core principle of incarceration which is rehabilitation and avoid subjecting convicted sex offenders to inhuman treatment and alienating them from the society.


California 2006 Election Results, preposition 83.

Hartnes, E., (2009). Registered sex offenders could be banned from more places Chapel Hill.

Marshall, W.L., Jones, R., Ward, T., Johnston, P. & Bambaree, H.E.(1991). Treatment of sex offenders. Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 465-485.

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