Legal, moral ramifications of mandatory registry

Graph showing amount of sexual offenders by level of offense
Graphic by Bill Portoghese | The Oswegonian

A recent email notification left many students wondering about the lag in the laws devoted to tracking those convicted of sexual crimes. The notification was sent on Nov. 4, more than two months after the start of the semester, informing students that a level-two sex offender is currently enrolled at Oswego State. The email contained a link to a page identifying the student as Mark Patane. Patane originally agreed to an interview with The Oswegonian but later reneged.

The information was dispersed in compliance with the federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, which amended federal education laws, according the U.S. Department of Education website. Under the amendment, institutions of higher education are required to inform the campus community about where they can find information about registered sex offenders. Students who use this information to injure, harass or commit a crime against anyone are subject to criminal prosecution, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) website.

University Police Chief Cynthia Adam said it is very rare that sex offenders apply to Oswego State. When a sex offender enrolls at a university, both the sex offender and the DCJS must inform the university police about their crime, she said. After that, information on the sex offender’s enrollment must be made available to students and faculty.

Adam said that this can sometimes take a while because the DCJS deals with thousands of sex offenders. Janine Kava, the deputy director of public information for the New York State DCJS said in an email that there are 33,137 registered sex offenders on the state’s Sex Offender Registry as of Nov. 14.

The university police handles the situation once the notification is received from the DCJS.

“With any new bureaucratic process, it takes a while to get everything smoothed out,” Adam said. “Our school is trying to comply with the spirit of the law.”

Adam said that over the past 30 years, these laws have brought a greater awareness to people about potential dangers in their community.

People are becoming more privy to information that could safeguard them down the road.

“[The laws] exist to protect us citizens,” she said. “You should have a right to know who your neighbors are.”

This information is even more readily available with the recent advent of the Sex Offender Locator Application on Facebook. The application is available through the New York State Public Safety Page. Kava said that the application appeals to a whole new audience of people in a way that they are familiar with. As Facebook becoming increasingly mainstream, Kava said it made sense to use this medium.

“Information and knowledge are power,” Kava said. “It’s just one more thing people can do to keep themselves safe.”

Despite the availability of information provided by the laws and the email that was sent out, students are not at ease with the revelation. Tommy Powell, an Oswego State student, said that he was shocked when he found out that he had two classes with Patane.

“I wish I had just a little more knowledge than an email saying this guy is a sex offender,” Powell said.

This information could be important to himself and the people around him, he added. When the email was initially sent out, a couple of girls in one of Powell’s classes were uneasy and uncomfortable, he said. Apart from that, everyone was just trying to focus on schooling.

“Once you have a [sex offending] label for level two or three, it stays with you for life,” Adam said. “It does make your movements in society very transparent.”

4 thoughts on “Legal, moral ramifications of mandatory registry

  1. How exactly does making a person ashamed, the public afraid, and a person isolated from the community make you safer?

    You don’t care, do you? You have the theory that if everyone is creeped out about a guy, that will keep you all safer.

    Your registry has NO CREDIBILITY! It has a fallacy as its basis, that if everyone isolates a person that will keep you safer.

    If a person does have mental health issues, the registry and INHERENT harassment that goes with it, AGGRAVATES mental health issues.

    BUT you know kids, especially in college, they all respect all the students and social boundaries.

    When a LAW that purports to protect but ONLY takes protection, THOSE laws have NO CREDIBILITY. Non- credible laws do NOT have to be followed and can be fled from in ANY WAY POSSIBLE.

    You THINK you level systems have meaning. They don’t. You think your registry is protecting. It isn’t. You think you are doing something about sexual about. You are shoving it in the closet.

  2. I love this: “‘Information and knowledge are power,” Kava said.” OK…then why does the registry exist?

    Information: The registry’s effectiveness is “questionable” – stated on NYDCJS’ own site – and since its implementation there has been no reduction in new s*x crimes. Victims are overwhelmingly more likely to be assaulted by someone they already know or are acquainted with, who is NOT already on the registry. Recidivism rates for SOs are remarkably lower than that of all other felons. Read NYDCJS’ admissions here: http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/nsor/som_mythsandfacts.htm

    All the registry does is create a false sense of security and avoid the real solutions, which are education and prevention – NOT ruining the lives of registrants and their families. If people realized how much money is constantly being poured into a failing system that is based on all emotion and anecdote and very little fact, the registry would already be a thing of the past.

    I’m sorry that Mr. Patane has been forced through yet another public shaming. Is this how we “rehabilitate” and allow those who have served their time to integrate back into society? For those girls that “feel uncomfortable” or the student who was “shocked”, learn the facts your college isn’t going to tell you. You’ll feel much better!

  3. “University Police Chief Cynthia Adam said it is very rare that sex offenders apply to Oswego State. When a sex offender enrolls at a university, both the sex offender and the DCJS must inform the university police about their crime, she said. After that, information on the sex offender’s enrollment must be made available to students and faculty.”

    OMG! We can’t have a “sex offender” actually getting an education, they might be able to find a decent job! (sarcasm). I can’t help but wonder how many people would attend college at all if they had to go through half the stigma these people are put through.

    It is kind of like the old adage about women, “barefoot, pregnant and in the the home, where they belong” or with blacks, “keep ’em in the back of the bus and using their own facilities, restaurants, cause us white folks are SO MUCH better!”

    Hell Yeah, it is all about civil rights and the Constitution. WAKE UP AMERICA! This young man is employed and attending school at a community college and was also enrolled and attending the University. It sure seems to me he is trying desperately to become a productive member of society. However, society would MUCH rather keep him poverty stricken and on welfare rolls where they can keep an eye on him, right?

    We have BABIES being accused of perversions! A MOTHER recently called a sex abuse hotline and turned her 3 year-old son in because she caught him “touching himself”. Toddlers at a daycare are being “investigated by the state” because they touched each other in the bathroom. There ARE hundreds of thousands of KIDS on the registry that are being ostracized not only from society, but denied an education, jobs, homes, etc., because of behavior that was normal for centuries, but now is a crime!

    Has everyone forgotten that our children are our Country’s future?? I don’t know about you, but the future is looking pretty bleak if some sort of sanity isn’t allowed to prevail and it is going to have to happen pretty damn soon!

  4. Reauthorization Or The Adam Walsh Act – February 15, 2011
    Senator Scott asks Ms Doran (She’s with the SMART office)

    Mr. SCOTT. Does the fact that there is a registry reduce recidivism?

    Ms. DORAN. I would have to get back to you on those studies.

    Mr. SCOTT. Are there any studies that show whether or not
    someone who is compliant on a registry versus someone who is not
    compliant on a registry is more or less likely to offend? In other
    words, the list of 100,000 that Ms. Hylton is chasing down and incarcerated,
    is that list more likely to offend than those on the registry
    that are in compliance?

    Ms. DORAN. No.

    Mr. SCOTT. No, there is no difference?

    Ms. DORAN. That is correct. They are not showing to be more or
    less likely.

    Mr. SCOTT. The fact that you are not in compliance does not
    mean that you are any more likely to offend than if you are out
    of compliance; that is the finding of the studies.

    Ms. DORAN. That is one study, yes, sir.

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