'We mute the realization of malevolence- which is too threatening to bear - by turning offenders into victims themselves and by describing their behavior as the result of forces beyond their control'. Sex offender registry (hereinafter SOR) is a system designed to help the government keep a track of sex offenders, even after they have completed their criminal sentence. The SORs record the names of convicted sexual offenders on a database. It often works alongside a notification system which often allows police as well as general public to access the database and discover their other personal characteristics. The operation and accessibility of the SORs is very different in different systems. The major cause for this system is the fear of ‘recidivism’ i.e. an individual reverting to criminal behaviour and an assumption that SORs reduce chances of recidivism .
Sexual crimes are a major issue in India. There have been a lot of changes in the laws and policy-making in the direction of these crimes after the Nirbhaya gang rape case of 2012.
In India, the sex offender registration program is a fairly recent one. It was initiated by the police department of New Delhi wherein the department started posting detailed information about sex offenders on a public registry website. In August 2015, India’s Home minister announced that a national sex offender registry will be established by 2017. Now, this particular registry includes names, addresses, photographs, DNA samples, and Aadhar numbers of the convicted sex offenders. The database would include details of offenders convicted under charges of gang rape, rape, POCSO act etc. This database will be maintained by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) and will be accessible only to the law enforcement agencies for investigation and monitoring. The Home ministry assures that there will be no compromise done in relation to the privacy of people. India has now become the 9th country in the world to have a National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO).
Pros : SORs and notification system
Cons: SORs and notification system.
Although the SOR and notification system were introduced with a noble motive of reducing sexual crimes, the framework of the system is flawed which renders it ineffective. Some suggestions are:
The purpose of punishment is to prevent the criminal to commit any new offense and to deter others from committing the same. With all the socio-economic considerations being made, national SOR system, in its current form, is an ineffective method to prevent a crime.
1.) LAUREN CUI et al., The benefits and detriments of sex offender registries: A comprehensive analysis, HAC MACQUIRE UNIVERSITY, (April 5, 2020, 09:07 A.M.), http://haqcrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/sex-offenders-registry-a-study-by-haq-macquire-university-2018.pdf
2.) Bharti Jain, Govt. to ‘name and shame’ those booked for sex crimes, TIMES OF INDIA (April 5, 2020, 09:09 A.M.), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Govt-to-name-and-shame-those-booked-for-sex-crimes/articleshow/48490513.cms
3.) Special correspondent, Sex offenders’ registries launched with 4.4 lakh entries, THE HINDU (April 5, 2020, 09:15 A.M.), https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sex-offenders-registry-launched-with-44-lakh-entries/article24999478.ece
4.) Lauren Cui et al. , supra note 1, at 8-9.
5.)  Office of sex offender sentencing, Global overview of sex offender registration and notification system, SMART OFFICE OF SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING, MONITORING, APPREHENDING, REGISTERING, AND TRACKING, (April 4, 2020, 09:20 A.M.), https://www.smart.gov/pdfs/GlobalOverview.pdf
6.) Bharti Jain, Supra note 2.
7.) Lauren Cui et al. , Supra note 1, at 10-11.
8.) Human Rights Watch, Raised on the registry: The irreparable harm of placing children on sex offender registries in the US, 1-5, (April 5, 2020, 09:22 A.M.), https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/us0513_ForUpload_1.pdf
9.) Sarah Craun & Poco Kernsmith, Juvenile offenders and sex offender registries: Examining the data behind the debate, 70 FEDERAL PROBATION, 45-49 (2006).
10.) Lauren Cui et al. , supra note 1, at 27-28.
11.) Human Rights Watch, supra note 8, at 2-8.
12.) LAUREN CUI et. al, supra note 1, at 43.
13.) National Crimes Record Bureau, Crimes in India 2016: Statistics, MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS, Report no. 64, pg 214 (2017).
14.) Shruthi Ramakrishnan, Sex Offender Registries don’t work, THE HINDU,(April 5, 2020, 09:25 A.M.), https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/sex-offender-registries-dont-work/article17292629.ece
15.) Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. v/s Union of India, (2014) 5 SCC 438 (India).
16.) Vrinda Bhandari, Why India’s registry of sex offenders may do more harm than good, SCROLL.IN, (April 5, 2020, 09:30 A.M.), https://scroll.in/article/895346/why-indias-registry-of-sex-offenders-may-do-more-harm-than-good
17.) National Crimes Research Bureau, supra note 13, at 649-650.
18.) Robert E. Freeman Longo, Feel Good Legislation: Prevention or Calamity?, CHIL. AB. & NEG 20(2) 95, 96 (1996).
19.) National Human Rights Commission v. State of Gujarat and Ors, (2009) 6 S.C.C. 767 (India).
20.) Stuti Subbaiah Kokkalera, Rethinking the Indian sex offender registry, 4(1) NLUJ Law Review 56, 78-79 (2017).
21.) Id. at 79.
22.) Id. at 79.
23.) Id. at 79-80.
Tags : Sex, offender, registries, recidivism, costs, psychological