(Host) Crime victims advocates are calling on the Legislature to pass a bill this session to create an online registry for serious sex crime offenders. The registry would include names, photographs and other information.
Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard, Allen Gilbert of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont said the registry will create a false sense of security. Gilbert says even though there are registries in other states, there is no evidence to indicate whether or not they work to prevent crime.
(Gilbert) “We think that saying something is a good idea to do because we don’t know that it doesn’t work is a pretty slippery slope to start down. And we think it’s really slippery because legislators during consideration of this bill have heard a lot of testimony that registries could actually cause harm – harm to both offenders and harm, even to some victims.”
(Host) Gilbert says the registry could act to isolate those whose names are included and possibly result in their re-offending. He says it’s better if offenders have to engage with community members and work to be reintegrated.
Jennifer Poehlmann of the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services says most victims of sex crimes support the registry. She says only those at a high risk of re-offending will have their information listed online.
(Poehlmann) “We’re talking about your repeat offenders, those who prey on the most vulnerable, those who refuse treatment, and those who have been deemed sexually violent predators. So those arguably, are not the individuals who are going to be candidates for successful reintegration.”
(Host) The Senate has passed legislation that includes an online registry for convicted sex offenders. A House committee is expected to complete work today on its own bill, which will likely include a more limited registry.