On September 28th, 2011, the entire Bahamas was taken by surprise when the news broke of the brutal rape and killing of eleven-year old Marco Archer. Police described the scene as one of the most gruesome crimes they have ever witnessed. The country was outraged. Marches, rallies and walkabouts were held by communities in order to get their voices heard by the government for a sex offender registry to be implemented here in the Bahamas. Prior to Marco Archer’s cruel killing, in 2003 four young boys between the ages of eleven and fourteen were found dead with signs of sexual assault in Freeport, Grand Bahama. These two alarming cases sparked a fuse in the House of Assembly and more emphasis was now being placed on the creation of a sex offender registry. While it is true that something needs to be done about the situation, is the implementation of a sex offender registry the answer? The effectiveness of a registry here in the Bahamas will be little to none. The main purpose for a sex offender registry is to decrease the rate of recidivism among sex offenders. But should these persons be released from prison if there is a chance that they will reoffend. Apart from that, the registry is also used to provide personal information of offenders to the public, businesses and police officials about these convicted sex offenders. But then again, every individual should be entitled to his or her own privacy. All of these aspects along with the restrictions that come along with being registered as a sex offender will make the registry not effective within the bounds of this small country. Sex offender registries have been around for years. According to Gregg Barak, the author of Battleground: Criminal Justice, “California was the first state to enact tracking legislation in 1947, and only five states required convicted sex offenders to register with local law enforcement prior to 1994” (Barak, 2007). Sex offender registration is a system designed to allow government authorities, and sometimes the public, to keep track of the residence and activities of convicted sex offenders. Information is either placed on a public website or by other means in hopes of deterring them from reoffending. The decrease in the recidivism rate of sex offenders, as mentioned earlier, is perhaps the main purpose for the creation of these registries. According to Sean Madden, in his book The Labeling of Sex Offenders: The Unintended Consequences of the Best Intentioned Public Policies he believes that one of the underlying assumptions made when creating these laws and policies are all based on the thought that the recidivism rate will go down (Madden, 2008). The Centre for Sex Offender Management, an organization created by the U.S. Department of Justice, believes that this is one of the biggest myths about sex offenders. One may argue that the implementation of a registry may have a deterrent impact on those ‘new’ or non-convicted offenders; but society currently lacks the study that a registry such as this would in fact deter persons from committing such crimes. In an article written by Stephen Aranha, entitled “Why Marco’s Law Won’t Help Marco”, Aranha states that “While there are jurisdictions with such registers where sex offenses have decreased, it has also been noted that the decrease is only a continued trend that began before the introduction of said registers. In our situation, where the conviction rate is as low as it is, the deterrent effect has to be seriously questioned.” (Aranha, 2012) Also, Aranha expresses that “Some studies, for example, measure higher recidivism rates for registered sex offenders than unregistered sex offenders, suggesting that the additional difficulty in finding housing or employment caused by public labeling may be a factor contributing to this phenomenon” (Aranha, 2012). Based on this fact, the public humiliation which comes along with being considered a registered sex offender increases the recidivism rates. It is...
Cited: Aranha, Stephen. “Why Marco’s Law Won’t Help Marco” Wordpress.com, 24 April. 2012. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.
Barak, Gregg. Battleground: Criminal Justice. Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing, 2007. Print.
Center for Sex Offender Management. “Myths and Facts about Sex Offenders”. May 2001. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.
Madden, Sean. The Labeling of Sex Offenders: The Unintended Consequences of the Best Intentioned Public Policies. Maryland: UPA, 2008. Print.
Wright, Richard. Dr. Sex Offender Laws: Failed Policies, New Directions. New York: Springer Publishing, 2009. Print.
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