Restorative Action Alliance opposes all public and private conviction registries.
Registries shame, isolate, and destroy, rather than restore and heal. They perpetuate cycles of harm and create a permanent subclass of people. The registry regime is part of a criminal legal system that disproportionately affects people based on race, class, disability, gender, sexual orientation, and more. For these reasons, Restorative Action Alliance calls for the abolishment of all conviction registries, public and private.
Restorative Action Alliance supports meaningful accountability, fairness, and methods of addressing sexual harm that uphold the common humanity of every person. We seek solutions that address root causes of violence - tearing down ideas, systems and policies that perpetuate the harm cycle.
- Individuals convicted of sexual offenses are the least likely to commit a new sexual offense. Studies show that recidivism rates are between 3-5%, one of the lowest of any offense type.
- Registries encourage and often legislatively require that people discriminate against a whole category of people based on their registration status, denying them access to housing, jobs, emergency shelter, religious congregations, parenting activities, long-term healthcare settings, and other social groups.
- Registries harm entire families and communities, not just the person required to register. Family members experience a variety of mental health effects, especially children of those required to register.
- “Law-enforcement only” registration schemes allow and encourage government actors to continue to investigate people with past sex offense convictions, keeping them locked as eternal suspects for future crimes for no good reason. The approach is neither constitutional nor evidence-based. Law enforcement agencies operate with very little transparency or accountability. Rather than acting as public safety tools, registries exclusive to law enforcement access provide a false sense of security, encourage investigative shortcuts, and harm all of society.
- Law enforcement only registries are falsely promoted as “private.” However, certain members of the public can still access the information and then make that information publicly available, simply shifting the direct notification from government to independent, even less accountable parties with questionable motives.
- Individuals on law enforcement only registries still face additional collateral consequences in categories including employment, housing, proximity and travel restrictions. Laws vary by state and can change at any time with devastating implications.
- Registries and carceral approaches may deter reporting and help-seeking, particularly when harm occurs within families.
Registries siphon limited public resources from survivor services, prevention programs, and restorative and transformative approaches that are more effective at addressing harm.
The bottom line:
As an organization that engages in public education and advocacy, we recognize that we work within the context of political and cultural realities; however, we will not advocate for policies that pit those on the registry against one another, call for a registry for the “worst offenders'', limit registries to law enforcement only or assert that registries of any kind are viable public safety tools. ALL registries must be abolished. Absent the political will to do so, we will work towards the most immediate real-world relief for those subject to registration today, while strategically pursuing the goal of a society without registries where sexual harm is unfathomable and survivors receive meaningful care.
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