Wetterling recently met a 10-year-old boy going through sex offender treatment. RESEARCHER: LAWS ARE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE "Overall, we don't have very much evidence to support the idea that knowing where sex offenders live actually protects children, or reduces the number of sex crimes in our communities," says Jill Levenson, author of "The Emperor's New Clothes," an examination of sex offender policy.She says the boy was sexually abused, and later was convicted of abusing a young cousin. Levenson teaches at Lynn University in Florida, and compares sex offender laws with research to see if the laws are making a difference.Convicted sex offenders are required to register with police, making it easier for law enforcement agencies to keep track of sex offenders in their community.
"THIS WILL ALWAYS HAUNT HIM" Ricky was kicked out of school, and must stay away from schools and parks.
He's been working with a tutor and hopes to get his GED. I just go to work, come home and try to just do stuff around the house." "He's constantly watching his back," says Mary Duval, Ricky's mother.
"I know tons of parents on the Internet with boys similar to mine, and they're scared," says Duval.
"I've been advised not to talk to reporters, not to speak out, because it could bring bad things to my family or Ricky. I'm going to fight this and fight this, until someone listens." Mary Duval is fighting one of the unintended consequences of getting tough on sex offenders.
Experts say applying the same laws to Ricky and a violent predatory rapist makes for bad public policy.
But if you compare their attitudes on their worst days to the attitude of a New Yorker on their best day, you’ll never question the Minnesota Nice label again.Ricky says he'd planned to join the Navy, go to college and become a police officer. "He doesn't know if the next person who walks up on him is going to know he's a sex offender, and what they'll do or what they're going to say." Duval says she believes her son should have been punished for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. A girl says 'Hi' to him in the store -- and I have seen him twice bail out of the store and lock himself inside our pickup. "The damage that's being done by making him register as a sex offender is long term.Now he works at an assembly plant, and isn't sure what he'll do next. But she's angry he's painted with the same brush as a violent predatory rapist. This will always haunt this kid." There are likely hundreds of faces like Ricky's mixed in with the dangerous sex offenders on public registries."And without those things, they're going to be more likely to resume a life of crime.That's not a debate, that's a fact." Ricky says he knows what it feels like to be an outcast.Some, like Minnesota, post only the offenders deemed most dangerous, while others put every sex offender's picture on a Web site.