The SOR – also called the sexual offense registry by advocates who want to move past the stigma of dehumanizing labels – is a publicly accessible internet database of individuals who have been convicted of a sexual offense and reside, work, or attend school in Connecticut. It is searchable and includes their name, physical description, addresses, photo, and offense details.
Unfortunately, when it comes to creating rational, effective policies related to sexual offenses, our political system can be blinded with emotion. Fears of appearing “soft on crime” can outweigh a politician’s desire to do the right thing. Some legislators have confessed to me that they know the registry doesn’t work, but they have difficulty supporting legislation to address the issue because they don’t know how to explain it to their constituents.
I have more faith in the Connecticut voter than that. What is needed is plain talk that dispels the myths related to sexual offenses, and real solutions that can make our families safer.
A common myth about people on the registry is that recidivism rates are higher for sexual offenses than other crimes, when in fact they are among the lowest. Connecticut is fortunate in that it has two state-specific studies through the Office of Policy and Management that came to the same conclusion. The risk of sexually reoffending drops each year the person lives offense-free in their community. After 20 years, even those with a high initial risk are the same as a person who never had a conviction – including our neighbors and family members. Individuals convicted of sexual offenses can be fully rehabilitated, and we need to support that outcome if we want to improve public safety.