My name is David Wasch, and I am the legislative coordinator for One Standard of Justice, and we strongly support bill SB1194 concerning the Sex Offense Registry. OSJ assists individuals who struggle to rebuild their lives after facing conviction for a sexual offense.
Numerous testimonies have been submitted describing how the Registry was unfairly forced on the people released before 1998. They describe how the Registry has been a heavy burden, not just on them but on their innocent families as well, whose only crime was loving someone on the Registry.
We have included a list of research at the end of this testimony, evidence that there is no public benefit to this group of individuals being on the registry. But rather than go through it here, we will address some of the reasons why members of this committee might still hesitate to pass this legislation.
Some on the committee may feel that the stories are compelling, but think that the Registry is working well enough overall, and making this sort of change isn’t necessary. To you, we want to emphasize that the science on this is clear: the Registry isn’t creating any benefit to public safety by keeping these 800+ individuals on it, people who are today no more a threat than any other member of their community. What is also clear is that for these men and women, and their families, the Registry generates tremendous harm. Listing these individuals on the registry creates a baseless fear between neighbors.
Others on the committee may feel that because of the nature of the offenses that these people committed so long ago, that they deserve the suffering the Registry causes them; that they are somehow less human and not worthy of a second chance. To you, we want to underscore that the registered are not the only ones being harmed by the Registry. Families share in the collateral damage as they are also affected by the lost wages, housing scarcity, and health problems experienced by those on the Registry. They are deemed guilty by association, and merely having a loved one on the Registry can threaten their own employment — not to mention social rejection and bullying. Again, the harm caused by the Registry gains nothing for our communities.
And finally, there are those on the committee who may hesitate to support this bill because it’s a political ‘third rail,’ a risky topic that could get you into trouble with your constituents. It may feel easier to push it off to another year, to let someone else deal with it. To you, we say that action is needed now. These people and their spouses are getting older, and as they enter their senior years, they face growing restrictions to getting the care they need. We are on the cusp of a health care crisis because of both public and private policies that restrict access to health care and housing for this group. We need your leadership on this now.
OSJ and our partners will work very hard to get you the information you need to back up your decision. Please don’t turn away from these citizens, your constituents, who over these past 25 years have proven themselves and earned the chance to finally be free of the Registry.
More information can be found on our Paid In Full campaign website:
We also have on our website a series of webinars on Registry reform and sexual harm prevention. Of particular interest are:
- Karl Hanson and Sen. Gary Winfield
Politics, Science, and Public Safety… Is There Common Ground
- Karl Hanson
Sex Offense Recidivism Risk: Not What You Think
And a more detailed dive into the research can be found in R. Karl Hanson’s papers on recidivism and desistance:
Reductions in Risk Based on Time Offense-Free in the Community: Once a Sexual Offender, Not Always a Sexual Offender
Long-Term Recidivism Studies Show that Desistance is the Norm
And Kristen Zgoba and Meghan Mitchell’s paper on:
The Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification: A meta-analysis of 25 years of findings