Many young adults can act a little wild sometimes. Youthful highjinks can end upturning into serious matters when teens face criminal charges for public nudity or indecent exposure as a result of streaking or urinating in public. Such convictions can have a life-long impact when people are required to register as sex offenders because of the nature of the charges. A report issued by the independent world-wide human rights advocacy organization Human Rights Watch showed how putting youthful offenders on sex offender registries ends up doing more harm than good.
Comprehensive investigation of juveniles on registries
Researchers from Human Rights Watch drew on a wide variety of sources for information for its report. Researchers conducted interviews with 281 people from 20 states who are required to register as sex offenders for offenses they committed as juveniles, with the median age at the time of offense being 15 years old. They also consulted hundreds of family members of juvenile sex offenders as well as numerous professionals who deal with juvenile sex offenders such as judges, lawyers, therapists and sex offense experts.
The report recounted the indignities that those on sex offender registries suffer, in many cases for minor offenses committed while young. Many do not complete their educations, as laws in many states prohibit registered sex offenders from being near schools or other areas children frequent. They have difficulty finding housing and employment, as well, because of the restrictions on where they may and may not go. Sex offender notification laws often make those who must register the targets of harassment and violence by those in the community who feel the need to take the law into their own hands.
Many juveniles on sex offender registries battle depression and some end up committing suicide.
Alternatives for juvenile offenders
The authors of the report suggest that the intent of the sex offender registry and notification laws is to protect society and prevent people from committing more sex offenses. However, the authors suggest that juveniles have better success with rehabilitation and are less likely to reoffend than adults, given their psychological and neurological development. Rather than condemning juvenile offenders to a lifetime of ostracism from society by making them register as sex offenders, the authors argue that the criminal justice system should be working to reintegrate these juveniles back into society, thereby reducing the likelihood of committing future crimes.
Talk to a lawyer
The Human Rights Watch report shows how devastating the consequences of being required to register as a sex offender can be on peoples’ lives. If you are facing sex offense charges, it is imperative to seek the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney with a history of successfully handling sex offense cases.