Sex offender registries were created as a free and public educational tool; however, is that assessment entirely correct? Since 2006 when states were mandated with implementing registries, society has watched the registry, and all its strange collection of information become stale and flat. In fact, to seek out the educational benefit of the registry are quickly identifying major flaws where education is hugely lacking or not relevant at all.
Logging on to the North Carolina’s sex offense registry allows the public to access such features as offender statistics. However, the only statistical data available to the public is the census data per all 100 North Carolina counties – nothing more. If a visitor or researcher to the website wants to search a basic account of racial, gender, origin, misdemeanor versus felon, high risk, repeat offenders, out of state but relocated or other simple information, it cannot be quickly or accurately assessed. However, the state website has been in production since 2006 without any updates. That’s right! Despite the hundreds of legislative bills, laws, and changes within the law, and a pouring of federal and state dollars to “educate the public,” the highest law enforcement in the state has failed to educate with relevant and updated information beneficial to the State of North Carolina.
Some may argue, “why make the registry better?” I would counter by saying, “if the subject matter isn’t of any relevant or current use, then let’s cancel or eliminate the materials altogether.” Why on earth would the state try to hide how many African Americans, Hispanics, or gender on the sex offender registry? Perhaps those that crafted the registry intended on a “lump sum” design so that anyone listed is indeed publically shamed or assumed to be the worst of the worst. But perhaps another issue is that the best academic scholars are unable to rely on a registry that is supposed to be the most accurate system available to the public? Masking critical data that may best-identified trends and analysis has not been readily available. The omission of essential data presents severe questions and scrutiny of potentially and often being false or highly misleading.
Facts remain that the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry is a profitable enterprise business scheme rather than an actual educational tool. Police and sheriff agencies that enter facial recognition data from the website to port into such services as Amazon with use at fair events just the cusp of problems that lay ahead of the registry’s usefulness. It is a state-mandated marketing tool to comply with federal law and guidelines but used for other testing means to pry and inch its way into being a relevant topic matter with no instructor, no course materials, no test, and naturally no real results.
Nearly all of the 24,000 North Carolina registrants have committed a crime well over twenty plus years ago. Yet this is the best solution to monitor a specific crime using ex post facto methodologies? The registry is clinging on to a poorly designed process with an even more horrible process under the guise of safety and security. The only people secure with the sex offender website are those with business connectivity with prison, software, and lobbying contracts to keep it alive. It is millions of dollars of taxpayers wasted money that has collateral consequences of creating the most harm in the way we educate, rehabilitate, and reintegrate those that commit certain crimes.
The registry is way out of date and no longer a need for the people of the United States and the people of North Carolina. Let’s agree its time to move on with this trainwreck experimental program. It is time to end the registry before it comes to collateral damage morphing into drug, DUI, or other crimes with no pathway of redemption or something that occurred decades ago. Just like justice reforms are a hot topic of change across our nation, so should educational reforms be an integral part of that discussion. The sex registry, in general, isn’t an educational or justice tool. It is, after all, nothing more than a poorly designed marketing tool that must be ended before it inevitably ends democracy and freedoms as we know it.