There are over 600,000 registered offenders in the United States today. Most of us see the registry as another protection against repeated offenses – if we know who they are, we can stay away from them. However, as author of Knowledge as Power Criminal Registration and Community Notification Laws in America, Wayne A. Logan points out, 600,000 is a lot of people to keep track of. In a recent article by Nina Ayoub in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Logan’s arguments are explained.
The article references a phenomenon happening in Miami, Florida, and around the country. Ghettos of registered sex offenders are forming in odd spots among cities – under overpasses or on the outskirts of town. Because of the constraints on the offenders living choices, they really have no other option. But why should we care?
While it may seem like a good plan, Logan says that registering these people and forcing them into these ghettos really doesn’t provide a solution to the problem for several reasons. Most sexual crimes result from situations where the victim already knows the offender (family, friends…etc), not a stranger. Also, Logan points out that some sexual offenders may even go out of their community to find victims, so the registry is no help when there are tens of thousands of registered criminals across a state and nation.
In the end, it seems, we must learn not to rely on this “hypervigilance” because, as Logan points out, the registry doesn’t provide as much protection as we might think.