As a victim, as a mother, as an attorney I grateful for these the websites and the ability to know who has committed the offense.
As a victim, had they had the registry when I was a child, maybe I wouldn't have been inappropriately touched by this "harmless" looking guy who hung around the parks and rec day camp. Maybe, had they known about this guy, he wouldn't have been allowed at the picnic area where we were eating lunch. Furthermore, maybe I wouldn't have been touched a second time a few years later by our parish priest.
As a parent, I want to know if these offenders are living close by, and what they look like, not only for my safety but for the safety of my children.
As an attorney, I often times hate my job of getting offenders off, but I realize it is my job and it is what I have to do...
Furthermore, the registeries do let people know if the offense was against a child. Most crimes are differentiated between children and adults...You have Rape, and you have Rape of a minor. Furthermore, consensual sex between an adult and a child in the BF/GF situation is generally considered the crime of Statutory Rape...
As for the poor innocent offenders who get labeled and have to register for life, maybe my attitude would change a bit, if I wouldn't have had experience with this as well. My husband hired a guy who we were lead to believe that his "sex offense" was allegations that came out of a divorce. He had to register as the highest level offender at the time. He was a very nice guy, we saw no signs of any issues for several years. Then he changed, and he became a different person --- we eventually found a lot of evidence that he was having contact with multiple minor children.
A letter came in the wrong mailbox - it should have gone into box #2, but was put in box #1. The letter was addressed not to the resident of box #2, but to mutual friend of ours and the resident of box #2. We called them, it wasn't anything he was expecting and authorized us to open it. Low and behold, it was pictures of a minor and love letters. We started digging through employee cell phone records and found where the guy was calling many minors, pretending to be a young boy their age....making arrangements to meet them, sending them gifts, etc...he was still on parole for the allegations against him from the divorce. As a mandated reporter, I had no choice....I called his PO, after calling another criminal law attorney/friend to see what potential criminal liability for the company.
We spent the next few weeks with the business assets in the hands of the PO and FBI and local Sheriff. Everyone involved had to go down and give written and oral statements tot he FBI. Then a few weeks later we were opening up a hard drive we found laying around and found child porn on it. Again, more stuff from the guy who was the culprit...but again we had more dealings with the FBI over the course of 2-3 years. We had to look at pictures and see if we could identify them (people that the offender took pics of and posted as his own image/face)...again these were minor children he took pictures off to claim as his own. Then there was the whole thing about the yahoo web cam spy program he was involved in....
Here is a link that will back up most of the above...http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/millerPlea.htm
This was a first time sex offender. Ohio used to have an independent psychologist trained in sex offender issues evaluate offender's and determine what potential hazard they posed of re-offending or committing additional sex offenses. As of Jan. 1, 2008 Ohio goes by a version of the Adam Walsh Act, where offenders receive a classification based upon the offense they have committed. The higher the Tier of Classification the more sever the crime. Also, Tier 1 offense tend to not be related to children. Child Sex Offenders tend to fall into Tier 2 or 3 offenders.
And yes, it may seem harsh to label a child as a Sex Offender, but the laws are a bit different as it relates to them, even under Adam Walsh Act. There are children who will have to register for life, but if a child rapes a sibling or another child then maybe they need that classification and registration duties. Also, I don't think classified children are made known to the general public.