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As a result, he was placed in a juvenile home. When Jacob was 14—and still unable to return home—he became the foster child of a pastor and his wife. Since his offense fell under juvenile court jurisdiction, Jacob was placed on a non-public registry.
But that changed when he turned 18 during his senior year in high school, and his status as a sex offender became public. Jacob attended a local university in Big Rapids, Michigan, but ended up dropping out.
He soon fell in love, married, and had a daughter. A year later, he and his wife divorced, and Jacob was awarded joint custody of his daughter. Another time, he failed to register a new address after a period of homelessness and was arrested and convicted of the felony of failure to register.
Jacob continues to fight for custody and visitation but cannot afford a lawyer because he has been unable to find a job. Now age 26, Jacob was removed from the registry in Michigan inbut remains on the registry in Florida, and his life continues to be defined by an offense he committed at age Upon release from juvenile detention or prison, youth sex offenders are subject to registration laws that require them to disclose continually updated information including a current photograph, height, weight, age, current address, school attendance, and place of employment.
Registrants must periodically update this information so that it remains current in each jurisdiction in which they reside, work, or attend school. Often, the requirement to register lasts for decades and even a lifetime. Although the details about some youth offenders prosecuted in juvenile courts are disclosed only to law enforcement, most states provide these details to the public, often over the Internet, because of community notification laws.
Residency restriction laws impose another layer of control, subjecting people convicted of sexual offenses as children to a range of rules about where they may live. This report challenges the view that registration laws and related restrictions are an appropriate response to sex offenses committed by children.
Even acknowledging the considerable harm that youth offenders can cause, these requirements operate as, in effect, continued punishment of the offender. And contrary to common public perceptions, the empirical evidence suggests that putting youth offenders on registries does not advance community safety—including because it overburdens law enforcement with large numbers of people to monitor, undifferentiated by their dangerousness.
Human Rights Watch undertook this investigation because we believe the time is right to better understand what it means to be a youth offender raised on the registry. Sex offender laws that trigger registration requirements for children began proliferating in the United States during the late s and early s.
Since some of these state laws have been in place for nearly two decades, and the federal law on sex offender registration is coming up on its eighth anniversary, their effects have been reverberating for years.
A Policy Based on a Misconception Sexual assault is a significant problem in the United States and takes a huge toll on survivors, including children.
According to the US Department of Justice DOJthere were an estimatedrapes and sexual assaults in the most recent year for which data is available. In an estimated 24, of these cases, the victims were between the ages of 12 and The DOJ study did not examine how many of these incidents involved an adult or youth offender.
Thus, we do not know how many were similar to the vast majority of the cases investigated for this report—that is, cases of sexual offenses committed by children against another child. Nevertheless, the public and lawmakers have understandable concern, even understandable outrage, about sex crimes.
Sex offender registration laws have been put in place to respond to those concerns. In theory, this was a well-intentioned method to protect children and communities from further instances of sexual assault.
In reality, however, this policy was based on a misconception:Consistently television's most-watched daily business news program, "Nightly Business Report" has provided business news in a fast-paced format for 30 years.
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