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Maryland officials use sex offender registry to mark individuals

If you are arrested and charged with a sex crime in Maryland, you may be concerned about how much time you will have to spend in prison if convicted or how much damage a criminal record will have when you apply for jobs, but prison and a criminal record are only two of the many consequences of a sex crimes conviction. If you are unable to clear your name after being accused of a sex crime, it is likely you will be forced to register on the Maryland sex offender registry, sometimes for the rest of your life.

The Maryland legislature has passed several laws which require sex offender registration, but the goal is not to prevent someone from committing another crime. The assistant director of Maryland's Criminal Justice Information System told The Washington Examiner that the purpose of the sex offender registry is to notify anyone who comes in contact with someone who has served time for a sex crime of that individual's past mistakes.

The assistant director has said that the registry is meant to increase "public awareness" of any individuals who were previously convicted of a sex crime in their neighborhoods, schools and businesses. The assistant director believes this will enable people to protect themselves from future sex crimes, but this presupposes that individuals released from Maryland prisons will fall prey to recidivism.

The Maryland Justice Department has noted that only 5.3 percent of individuals released from prison on sex crimes charges will re-offend. In fact, the rate of recidivism in Maryland is so low that the state doesn't even track the numbers of new offenses allegedly committed by previous inmates.

Since many people convicted of sex crimes in Maryland will be forced to report what crime they allegedly committed, their name, picture and address to the sex offender registry for life, it would be reasonable to assume that Maryland had numerous re-offenders. With relatively small numbers of new offenses committed, however, the embarrassing and demeaning public spectacle of the sex offender registry seems out of place.

Source: The Washington Examiner, "Sexual predators locked up in Virginia, monitored in Maryland," Steve Contorno, Nov. 17, 2011

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