Sex offender registries (SORs) pose a number of problems for human rights, law-enforcement, budgeting and other areas of concern in public life. This article lists these problems.
- Children are regularly added to registers, fuelling concerns over their true potential to "protect the vulnerable". 7,500 offenders were added to the Texas register after committing crimes as children (Texas Department of Public Safety/Chron, 2008).
- Failure to discriminate between actual danger and alternative sexuality. The public list conflates consensual crimes with rape. For example, "Justin Fawcett, whose name was among 22 penned in a 14-year-old girl's sex diary, was found dead in his bedroom Friday [...] The girl's diary later revealed she had been sneaking out of her parents' Bloomfield Township home in the middle of the night to have oral and anal sex with 22 boys and men. [...] In a May 2002 interview with the Free Press, the girl conceded that she was a predator and a victim: "I declare I am both. Yes, I'm a victim. I was a victim who was deceived by my own emotions and ignorance, of misplaced confidence, a victim of my own fantasies . . . Yes, predator for I chase people who themselves were victims of misplaced confidence."" The case mentioned also brought up the issue of unconstitutional, retroactive law.
- The case of Martin is also pertinent. "It's true that a decade ago, he was convicted of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl who was half his age. But the registry doesn't divulge that his victim was his girlfriend who now is his common-law wife, with whom he has three children. Glancing at his profile, there's little to distinguish him from the repeat pedophiles and violent rapists who are among the 54,000-plus registered sex offenders in the state's database. “I just can't equate my offense with the guy who sat next to me in my therapy sessions who raped his 5-year-old stepson,” said Martin, 42. He asked that his last name not be used for this article for fear that his children will be stigmatized. [...] Linda Ingraham, a psychologist in Dallas who has treated sex offenders in her private practice, said most people would be surprised at the number of low-risk misdemeanor offenders. She said she's probably treated 200 people who were forced to register because they were caught several times having consensual sex in a park."
- False Positives can occur in these very large systems. For example, Scott Ibarra was listed, despite having his conviction overturned years before.