Wednesday, September 02, 2009

NY Times reviews general problems of s.o. registries: do they really protect minors?

On September 2, 2009 the New York Times featured a front page story by Monica Davey, “Plenty of Data … but Registries are Just Start”, link here.

She discusses the Garrido case in California, as something that slipped out of sight for 20 years because of its low tech nature. The article talks about the proliferation of state offender list websites, and many private subscription ones, some of which can be easily loaded onto mobile devices by nervous parents traveling in neighborhoods they believe to be bad.

Some of these sites are pretty explicit themselves and could frighten kids who find them. Furthermore, as John Stossel has pointed out, they mix the non-violent offenders together with the “worst”. In some communities, even non-violent offenders are so stigmatized that they concentrate in rural areas or become homeless.

Liliana Segura has an article on this problem on AlterNet, here.

In one of my own screenplays, not now displayed and something that got me in trouble when I was a substitute teacher over the “implicit content” issue (only tangential to COPA), an accused s.o. (who may, according to the logic of the fictional story, not be legally guilty) foregoes trial and then prefers jail to actually being on the registry and “free” on supervised probation; the character dies in prison while his music is performed publicly by one of his “contacts”, an irony that some people found too much to take. But it’s easy to imagine a story like this in independent film. None of the material came even close to the “HTN” definition of the 1998 COPA law.

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