Is justice served when a 23-year-old who dates and has a consensual sex with a 17-year-old be put on the sex offender registry next to someone who has raped a 5-year-old?
No. The crimes are different and they should be punished differently.
The Utah Sex Offender Registry is intended to provide the public with information on individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes, which include:
Kidnapping; Child kidnapping; Aggravated kidnapping; A Felony or Class A Misdemeanor violation of Enticing a minor; A Felony violation of Unlawful sexual activity with a minor; Sexual abuse of a minor; Unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old; Rape; Rape of a child; Object rape; Object rape of a child; A Felony violation of Forcible sodomy; Forcible sexual abuse; Sexual abuse of a child or aggravated sexual abuse of a child; Aggravated sexual assault; Sexual exploitation of a minor; Incest; Lewdness (4 convictions required for registration); Sexual Battery (4 convictions required for registration); Lewdness involving a child; Aggravated exploitation of prostitution; Aggravated Human Trafficking; Sexual Exploitation of a Vulnerable adult; Custodial Sexual Relations (person in custody under age of 18); A Felony or Class A Misdemeanor Violation of Voyeurism; Sodomy of a child.
As you can see from the list, these are very serious charges. But a blanket approach is not good and the Utah Legislature is responding to that criticism with H.B. 13 – Offender Registry Review.
Under the new law, offenders convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old, unlawful sexual activity with a 14 or 15 year-old minor or voyeurism could petition a judge for removal from the registry after 5 years instead of 10 years. The offender must complete all required counseling and broken no other laws since their sexual offense. The judge gets the final say to whether the person will be removed early.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune’s reporting of Utah Department of Correction statistics, “there are about 6,900 sex offenders on Utah’s list. Of those, 167 are registered for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old, 747 for unlawful sexual activity with a minor and 18 for voyeurism.”
This bill will allow individuals convicted of unlawful sexual activity and misdemeanor violations of voyeurism to get their lives back on track after 5 years instead of 10. It is a common sense compromise between proponents of the sex offender registry and people who believe that the sex offender registry is unfair.
You can track the status of the bill at http://le.utah.gov/~2012/bills/hbillint/hb0013.htm.