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Raised on the Registry: The Irreparable Harm of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries in the US

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2013
116 pages
This report from Human Rights Watch examines the problems associated with the U.S. practice of placing children on sex offender registries.
This report, compiled by Human Rights Watch, examines the problems that arise for persons placed on sex offender registries as children. As noted in this report, a majority of sex offender registration laws were first adopted without any specific reference to youth sex offenders. Over the years, these laws have been amended to include children adjudicated delinquent of sex offenses, as well as children tried and convicted of sex offenses in adult court. While the laws have been changed to include youth sex offenders, the system for regulating them has not; it is still designed to regulation the post-conviction lives of adult sex offenders. This report examines the long-term consequences of placing youth on sex offender registries. These consequences include higher levels of psychological problems such as depression and suicide, inability to find employment and housing that meets residency restrictions, and problems that affect other family members, often across generations. This report is divided into eight chapters that cover the following topics: a history of sex offender registries, a discussion on the cognitive differences in children, an examination of youth sex offender registrants, the registration of youth offenders in practice, the impacts of life on the registry, additional punishment resulting from failure-to-register violations, due process concerns, and human rights and registration of youth sex offenders. The final section of the report contains a set of recommendations for changing the way youth sex offenders are subject to sex offender registration laws. These recommendations are directed towards the U.S. Congress and State legislatures, State legislatures and agencies, State and Federal judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and police and other law enforcement agencies.