Remove Children from Sex Offender Registries
One feature of the 1994 law that has had baleful unanticipated effects was the adoption of sex offender registries. At the time, experts advised that sex offenders never reformed. To protect the community from those found guilty of such offenses after their return to society, registries would require them to identify themselves (sometimes even with signs in their windows). Understandably, penalties were particularly harsh for anyone who harmed a child sexually.
What the law's authors didn't anticipate is that children themselves would be caught up in this net. The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia has been studying those effects.
The old assumption that sex offenders never change has proved mistaken. The national recidivism rate for all crimes is roughly 40 percent. The rate for adults who commit sex offenses is about 13 percent. For children, the rate is about 7 percent.