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Sex Offender E-Mail Registry Signed Into Law 459

As noted in Wired yesterday, tragedy in chaos writes, "Senator and Presidential-hopeful John McCain has managed to get a new bill signed into law, in the hope of ridding online social networks of the sexual predation of children. The 'Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2008,' as it is called, calls for a database to be made in which all registered sexual offenders must also register their e-mail addresses so that MySpace, Facebook, etc. can run current and hopeful users through it, and eliminate access to the offenders. Though a noble goal, this is not very well thought out in methodology. They are asking known criminals to be honest, and are expecting them not to utilize any of the free and readily available e-mail services that exist so as to circumvent the system. There is also a potential for the crafty sex offender to possibly cause false positives by just registering an address that does not belong to them, thereby drawing in innocent bystanders."
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Sex Offender E-Mail Registry Signed Into Law

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  • by Ortega-Starfire ( 930563 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @05:36PM (#25390341) Journal

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-431 [govtrack.us]

    Sponsor: Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY]

    Cosponsors [as of 2008-10-15]
    Sen. Ted Stevens [R-AK]
    Sen. John McCain [R-AZ]
    Sen. John Kerry [D-MA]
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA]
    Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-NY]
    Sen. Barack Obama [D-IL]
    Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ]
    Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I-CT]
    Sen. Olympia Snowe [R-ME]
    Sen. Michael Crapo [R-ID]
    Sen. Arlen Specter [R-PA]
    Sen. Tim Johnson [D-SD]
    Sen. Mary Landrieu [D-LA]
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D-MN]
    Sen. Charles Grassley [R-IA]
    Sen. Kay Hutchison [R-TX]
    Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX]
    Sen. Patrick Leahy [D-VT]
    Sen. David Vitter [R-LA]
    Sen. Benjamin Cardin [D-MD]

    Any reason you feel like mentioning McCain but not Hillary, or the fact that they were merely co-sponsors? Or the fact that the vote was in fact, unanimous?

  • by mishehu ( 712452 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @05:47PM (#25390529)

    I've heard that in some regions of the USA you can be labeled a sex offender for doing any of the following:
    1. Peeing in a public alleyway.
    2. Have sex in the backseat of your car with your significant other.
    3. Be in possession of pictures of your girlfriend's boobs, when both of you are say, 16 years old.
    It seems that Americans have a terrible hangup about sex. You would get the impression that we don't have sex unless it's through a sheet with a hole in it, and not without scrubbing down as if we're surgeons going in to operate... And teenagers are not allowed to have any sex whatsoever. They can't even play doctor. (Not to mention that for most of the history of humanity, people started having sex as soon as the parts were fully functional...)

    That being said, EXACTLY how is this legislation supposed to improve the Internet and not just ruin the lives of people undeserving such punishment and waste a crapload of taxpayer dollars?

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @05:52PM (#25390637) Homepage

    A very salient point: If they're still a danger to society at large, why the hell are they not behind bars?

    Er... because they have rights?

    I mean, yes, perhaps we could re-evaluate particular statutes, but criminals can't be held in jail for longer than their prison sentence. Often, it's hard to just lock someone up and throw away the key because of protections against "cruel and unusual punishment".

    Of course, it depends (at least somewhat) on what you consider to be a "sex offender". I was reading a story [go.com] earlier today about a teenage girl who might be forced to register as a sex offender for distributing nude pictures of herself.

  • by icebrain ( 944107 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @06:10PM (#25391003)

    Well, there's also the problem that stupid little things (like pissing against a building, or taking naked photos of [i]yourself[/i] under 18) can earn you the "sex offender" label for life. I agree, the dangerous ones should be in prison, but the label is carried too far to the extreme in many cases.

  • by Sabby ( 1759 ) <chapmand AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @06:15PM (#25391063) Homepage

    Add to that list:

    4. Have sex at an age of 18 when your partner is under the age of consent, but not signifigantly younger than you. (You're newly 18, partner is one month from 16 here in the state of Michigan. Friend's nephew learned that one the hard way.)

    5. Skinny dipping in a secluded area when someone happens by.

    6. Homosexual sex with a consenting partner in some states.

    This is just a case of politicians trying their best to look good and gather votes by engaging in a crusade against Bad People(tm). So, we end up with zero-tolerance laws.

    No one wants to vote against them because their opponents will then say "Politician Blahblah is soft on sex offenders."

    This is not a US phenomenon, it's a democratic phenomenon. We just happen to have sex as our particular hangup... other countries have harmless weapons as their hangup.

    "We must ban crossbows. I once heard a crossbow was used in a crime in a little known area, one time. So, there's no reason you should need one. I propose a ban."

    (Never mind that I can use a pencil to do harm to another person, and thus use the threat of that harm to commit the same crime. Or even just my fists.)

  • by JeanPaulBob ( 585149 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @06:20PM (#25391163)

    Any reason you feel like mentioning McCain but not Hillary, or the fact that they were merely co-sponsors? Or the fact that the vote was in fact, unanimous?

    Well... Wired says that McCain wrote the bill. That's why the editors mentioned McCain.

    But your link throws that into question. There's no indication at the govtrack site that McCain had anything to do with writing it--Schumer is the main sponsor, and McCain shows up in a list of co-sponsors along with Obama.

    Also, Schumer said in his speech [govtrack.us] that he authored the bill, and doesn't mention McCain.

    So... I call Shenanigans on Wired.

  • by ameyer17 ( 935373 ) <slashdot@ameyer17.com> on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @06:26PM (#25391249) Homepage

    6. Homosexual sex with a consenting partner in some states.

    Not so much.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_v._Texas [wikipedia.org]

  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot@NosPam.pitabred.dyndns.org> on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @06:36PM (#25391401) Homepage

    I hate jacking a high-up post, but it needs to be said that both McCain AND OBAMA [govtrack.us] were co-sponsors of this bill. "tragedy in chaos [mailto]" is a hypocritical jackass, and this article's blurb needs amended.

  • by ihtarlik ( 1368251 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @06:36PM (#25391409)
    Speaking as someone who has years of experience dealing with "the sex offender issue," I can tell you that this law (like many others proposed at the state level) will be counterproductive. Some states and the Federal Government currently have the ability to keep dangerous individuals locked up indefinitely. It's called civil commitment.

    Recently, in Missouri, several state senators have begun speaking up about more intelligent legislation regarding sex offenders. The unintended consequence of having harsher laws is that they further remove an individual from society. It is that removal and isolation that prompts them to delve deeper into deviancy.

    We need laws that allow for tracking, but that do not create further punishment where no more criminal acts are involved. Also, about 4-5% of "sex offenders" are the really heinous ones we hear about on the news. The other 95% are unlikely to commit another sex crime.

    For more accurate information, see the article "Misunderstood Crimes [sciam.com]" by Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld, featured in Scientific American Mind, April/May 2008, page 78-9.
  • Re:A good first step (Score:5, Informative)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @07:23PM (#25392147) Homepage
    Ah. Haven't we reached a sad state of affairs? Neither of our jokes were funny.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @08:12PM (#25392663)

    Your argument for corporal/psychological punishment hinges on the premises that all convicted prisoners are actually guilty and that they do not already suffer long-term stigmata after release. It also does not consider that prison is an inherently corrupting system for guards and prisoners alike (viz., Stanford prison experiment), and that any sanctioned harming of prisoners by guards will inevitably be abused.

  • by (Score.5, Interestin ( 865513 ) on Wednesday October 15, 2008 @11:49PM (#25394201)

    In game theory this is sometimes referred to as the "asking the drunk whether he's drunk" strategy. It works about as well as could be expected.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 16, 2008 @02:31AM (#25395527)

    Hey folks, you know what's really funny? Is that a 12 people can be convinced that someone is guilty of a sex offense simply on the basis of an accusation. Why do I say this? Oh gee, could that really happen? YES! It happened to me and yes I am "registered".

    I dated a girl for a few weeks and dumped her for a girl who used to be her best friend. To make a long story short, the girl was so jealous and pissed off about the whole thing first she tried to ruin the relationship. When that didn't work, she went to the to the cops and told them some fucked up cock and bull story and claimed that I tried to rape her when she was wasted (a year prior to her report of the alleged crime!!!). When they asked her about her "delay" she said she was "confused" because "we were friends".

    Well my friends (as that cock sucker McCain likes to say), that's all it took. From the word go, the cops and the court treated me like a drooling pervert who was hiding in the bushes ready to jump on prepubescent children (though the alleged "victim" was of consensual age).

    I didn't have a chance in hell of being found innocent despite the fact that I truly was. I was simply railroaded. I was charged in late 1999, went to trial (while on bond) in 2000, found guilty, spent 18 months of a 3 year mandatory miniumum (out of a possible 15 year maximum) and my conviction was overturned pending further investigation and I was released from prison. I then spent 22 months on GPS monitored house arrest. The courts found unfavorably in my appellate matter (because they didn't want to set a precedent to actually give a defendant accused of a sexual crime his due process rights and presumed innocence)and sent me back to prison and I ended up doing 2 more years. As a result of the so called "justice" system I lost a promising career as a network administrator and IT project manager.

    When I was paroled from prison I was barred from computer use and could not have an verbal or physical contact with children and not allowed to use a computer for 2 years despite the fact the allegation involved neither a child or a computer.

    All of you motherfuckers who have this "hang em high" mentality are the same type of mental midgets who sent this innocent man to prison. I lost EVERYTHING I ever worked for and I'll never get it back, and it's all because fools like McCain and all of these other sensless idiots are so god damn gung ho to "hang em high" with no facts to support their agendas. The truth of the matter is, NONE of these laws against "sex offenders" work. If someone has made up their mind that they want to act out criminally no law is going to stop them from doing it.

    I am sick the fuck to death of these idiots in congress and the "justice" system coming up with more and more ways to effectively change the sentence I was already given and DONE serving (FOR A CRIME THAT NEVER OCCURRED IN THE FIRST PLACE).

    The lawmakers and "justice" system continuously look for new ways to disenfranchise those who are registered. And believe me my friends, these actions do not foster warm fuzzy feelings in a "registered" individual. These actions push these people further to the fringes of society and make them more crazy than they'd ever be if they were just left alone. What incentive is there for these individuals to change or seek help when society sends them the message that they are worthless outcasts, and 3rd class citizens with no rights? Or continuously diminishing rights?

    The bottom line is, if these motherfuckers are so dangerous, why in the fuck would you ever let them out of jail or prison in the first fucking place?!?!?!?! If these bastards really want to do something about REAL sex offenders (who's crimes can actually be PROVEN FACTUALLY) why don't they INCREASE the penalties to keep them off the streets (instead of coming up with USELESS garbage legislation like this).


    "Registered and Fed Up"

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday October 16, 2008 @06:59PM (#25406621)
    The problem with sex offenders is that no matter what kind of rehab/psych treatments the offender gets, they do not change their sexual preferences.

    The problem is that most people on the sex offender list aren't interested in sex with under-aged people or non-consentual sex of any kind. You can get on for having pics of yourself from under 18, or peed in an alley where you thought no one could see, there are cases of people getting on the list for being under age and having sex with someone else under age (some laws make it illegal for the male, no matter what their age), prostitution (consensual adult sex gets you on the sex offender list???), and such. With all the ways to get on that are not related to sex, or are related to sex, but include someone having sex with someone their own age when both agree to it, then you have a broken list. To claim that they will "re offend" is absurd when they never harmed anyone in the first place.

    As a father, I'm torn.

    Why? There are about 10 cases per year of a complete stranger kidnapping a child, sexaully abusing them, then killing them. That's 10. You are more likely to accidentally stab yourself to death, yet I don't know many people who run around screaming about that. If your child is molested, chances are you did it. If you didn't, then a family member or friend you let into the house did. Strangers that abduct, abuse, release offend at somewhere around 100 per year. The numbers for that one aren't kept. The number of abducted children is in the thousands (3000 to 20000 depending on the numbers you look at). Much more than half of the reported missing children were taken by a known family member with custodial rights (read that as, messy breakup/divorce and the kids are kept from one parent by the other). The others are almost all other family members taking the children. A minority are friends or acquaintences taking the children.

    But the parents panic about the random strangers coming by and stealing their children. It just doesn't happen. It happens so little that when it does, nearly every case confirmed of it makes it on the news.

    From what I understand, most of these predators are born with their preferences and develop them throughout adolescence.

    We are second only to China for number of incarcerated people (as a percent of population). We don't have more predators. We aren't better at catching them. We are better at making up things that we then falsly associate with predators and throw them all in jail. It would be better to have *no* protections from predators than what we have in place now. Now, we make violent criminals out of alley-peers because they have to become that in prison or die, and when they get out, they can't get jobs or live in nice places. We invent criminals to further along our prison industry. That you buy into the panic only shows how effective the PR campaign is.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.