Flawed System

What federal system could exist without possessing a number of major flaws? True to form, critical issues in state-level child abuse registries  now hinder the progress of the new national database:

Combatting child abuse is a cause with universal support. Yet a push to create a national database of abusers, as authorized by Congress in 2006, is barely progressing as serious flaws come to light in the state-level registries that would be the basis for a national list.

In North Carolina, an appeals court ruled last month that the registry there is unconstitutional because alleged abusers had no chance to defend themselves before being listed.

In New York, a class-action settlement is taking effect on behalf of thousands of people who were improperly denied the chance for a hearing to get removed from the state registry.

And the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case this fall arising from the plight of a California couple whose names remain on that state’s registry years after they were cleared of an abuse allegation made by their rebellious teenage daughter.

The problem:

A person doesn’t have to be convicted or even charged with a crime to get listed. Under the general practice in most states, entries are based on a child protection investigator’s assertion that the person committed an act of abuse or neglect; hearings or appeals, if granted at all, often come long after the name is entered.

“Anybody can call a child abuse hotline and report abuse — anybody, including your ex-spouse who hates you, your landlord who’s trying to evict you,” [Carolyn] Kubitschek said.

The confusing part comes from the lack of any charges, trials, or convictions. How can any state allow for a registry that lists people as child abusers without a conviction? Why do these registries still exist given their clear unconstitutionality?

The answer may lie with legislators:

Congress authorized a national child abuse registry in 2006 as part of the Adam Walsh Act, named for a Florida boy abducted and murdered in 1981. His father, John Walsh, hosts the TV series “America’s Most Wanted.”

Among those urging faster progress toward a national registry is Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who says such a list would help track child abusers who cross state lines to avoid detection and offend again in the new location.

“It doesn’t make any sense at all that while we try to watch sex offenders like hawks, we let child batterers, who physically batter children, slip through the cracks,” he told a news conference last month.

No one objects to creating a registry. It may prevent abusive adults from becoming teachers, child mentors, prison guards, and foster parents. However, state registries and the desired national registry should offer some protection against potential false accusations, false positives, and general abuse of the system.

2 thoughts on “Flawed System

  1. I dont like the registry system to begin with and now I learn this and its nothing good.

    first off it seems criminal to not give anyone a fair trial just because someone says they abuse children. You need a trial by jury to decide these things properly.

    There also the fact that the system of registering sex offenders has no room for reforming only punishing which can be debated but you cant argue with the fact that even though people that are actual sex offenders often get over looked by the officers asigned to make sure they arent going to repeat their crime like that man that had kidnapped a girl and loked her in a shed in the back yard, what the fuck happened there!

    I think we need to start from scratch making a system that allows reformed offenders or those falsly accused to get a fair hearing, and properly enforces those that ARE repeat offenders and stopping them before they stop

  2. correct that last phrase should have been stooping them before they start

    (my bad)

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