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iPhone App Tracks Sex Offenders

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the there's-a-sweaty-app-for-that dept.

Apple 358

The Narrative Fallacy writes "All 50 states in the US require the 50,000 people convicted of sexual offenses to sign a register so that their whereabouts can be tracked and monitored. The Telegraph reports that now users of the iPhone Offender Locator application can search for sex offenders living nearby a friend or colleague whose address is stored in their Apple iPhone address book, or they can type in a street address to generate a list of convicted sex offenders in the local area. 'Offender Locator gives everyone the ability to find out if registered sex offenders live in their area,' says the application developer, ThinAir Wireless, on its iTunes page. 'Knowledge equals safety. They know where you and your family are...now it's time to turn the tables so that you know where they live and can make better decisions about where to allow your kids to play.' Offender Locator uses the iPhone's built-in GPS to pinpoint the user's location, and then provide a map listing sex offenders in the local area. Tapping on one of the 'pins' dropped on to the map brings up a photograph of the offender, as well as their address, date of birth and list of convictions."

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Tired of scare tactics. (5, Insightful)

thesolo (131008) | more than 5 years ago | (#28880985)

They know where you and your family are...now it's time to turn the tables so that you know where they live and can make better decisions about where to allow your kids to play.

That's great for the very stereotypical creepy, mustachioed child molester, but ever-increasingly the phrase, "sex offender" has nothing to do with children at all. That same title now applies to people convicted of statutory rape, even if they were 17 & 18 at the time. It applies to people who streak, people who are caught skinny-dipping, people who are caught having sex in public (including in their car), and even people who happened to urinate behind a tree in some places. Yet they have the same social stigma & registration entries in the database as people who raped children.

So yeah, it might help protect your children, or it might just show you the house of a guy who really needed to take a leak, and happened to get caught. But hey, feel free to use it and get extremely paranoid at the rapidly growing number of people it shows...

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (4, Insightful)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881131)

this is pretty much my sentiment. I hope the application comes with a tag saying what the crime was (ie child molestation or rape or weeing in the street) when it happened (was it 2 years ago or last week) and where it happened (did it happen in their house, or in Vegas)

Last thing you want is what happened in the UK when this stuff is leaked
this [bbc.co.uk] pretty much covers UK Law in relation to violent sex offenses

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881195)

Tapping on one of the 'pins' dropped on to the map brings up a photograph of the offender, as well as their address, date of birth and list of convictions.

Like what is stated in TFS.

Yeah, I must be new here.

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (4, Informative)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881475)

17? Fucking hell... where I live (Prague, Europe) 14 is legal (before it was 15, but parliament change it year ago (at least to my best knowledge from local media).

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (4, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882045)

17? Fucking hell... where I live (Prague, Europe) 14 is legal (before it was 15, but parliament change it year ago (at least to my best knowledge from local media).

But this is the US where seing a breast on TV (the same where people are shown being shot by cops - or vice versa - all day long) will scar you for life and will force the network to issue a public apology.

Your body is dirty, *dirty* do you hear ? It's the work of the devil !

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (2, Informative)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881539)

Actually, in most areas you can get on that list for "indecent exposure", which is what the cops charge you with if you get caught taking a wizz in an alley after a night of drinking. Perhaps that's not the best decision in the world, but when a guy's gotta go, he's gotta go. Is that really something that deserves being treated like a child molester for life?

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (1)

SoulRider (148285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881595)

You are absolutely right we have to deal with the fear and the people who perpetrate fear before we can actually solve any of our social problems. This country has become nothing but a fear paralyzed invalid.

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (5, Insightful)

Hammer (14284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881659)

Lemme see.... A sex offender is anyone convicted of a sex based offense. I was under the impression that going to a hooker is an sex offense in some jurisdictions.

And also... What happened to the idea that once you served your time your debt to society is paid?

Make no mistake I want to keep my kids safe. But isn't this a perfect way of pushing an offender of the track again??

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881823)

What it is is a way to permanently marginalize an increasingly large segment of society. In Miami, I think it is, there's now a community that sex offenders have to live in. "Community" is a nice way of saying, "a bridge they have to live under." This is because the city won't let them live within a certain radius of any school, day-care or other facility that has children. So... what you get is a rapidly growing, very disenfranchised group of people, essentially randomly selected from society (of course, if you had enough money to hire a really good lawyer, you won't be there). How long before they out-number other neighborhoods? Who knows, but then we'll have to build a wall, right? I mean, think of the children.

Of course, at some point, the wall will seem insufficient. We'll have to move them all forcibly out to less populated areas. But they won't have any way to support themselves... hey, I know they can work for their food....

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881713)

Agreed 100%, but at least the app does list convictions. I'm not so worried about the neighbor kid who got caught sleeping with his girlfriend as the guy a few blocks over who tapped his 5-year-old neighbor.

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (2, Insightful)

jedrek (79264) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881747)

Statutory rape is the same if she was 13 and he was 30 or if she was 17 and he was 18.

Romeo and Juliet laws (2, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881917)

In most areas Romeo and Juliet laws protect people close in age.

Re:Romeo and Juliet laws (3, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882089)

In most areas Romeo and Juliet laws protect people close in age.

I know someone who spent years in jail because those Romeo18 and Juliet17 laws were determined to be inapplicable to Romeo18 and Romeo17.

Re:Romeo and Juliet laws (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882301)

Unless the girl's parents flip out and force her to criminalize the guy. It happens more often than you might think.

Re:Romeo and Juliet laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882497)

Welcome to Slashdot, a land where feeding the trolls gives you karma and using old memes makes you funny

In Soviet Slashdotistan, memes use you!

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882129)

Statutory rape is the same if she was 13 and he was 30 or if she was 17 and he was 18.

Legally. I hope you're not implying morally as well.

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (3, Interesting)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882297)

There is a growing number of states with "Romeo and Juliet" laws that relax the statutory rape laws so that if, say, an 18-year-old sleeps with a 17-year-old it's not considered rape. So things are improving.

Even a generation ago, however, the situation was much worse. A relative of mine knew a boy in high school who dated a girl a few (2 or 3) years younger than himself. It turned out that this girl was being sexually abused by her father, so the boyfriend encouraged her to speak out; he was the one person giving her support in this very difficult time for her. What happened? The father got into no substantial trouble; rather, he got the boyfriend sent to jail on statutory rape charges.

Yay justice!

Luckily, like I said, things are a little better today. But the laws still vary by state.

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881979)

Thus, I believe that the problem with this is not the tracking of sex offenders, but with the definiton of the label. It wouldn't be too hard to track the creeps, but not brand horny teenagers for life. I have no problem with close monitoring of he bad kind of offender. We just need a proper definition.0

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (1)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882087)

It applies to people who streak, people who are caught skinny-dipping, people who are caught having sex in public (including in their car), and even people who happened to urinate behind a tree in some places.

These are classify as public indecency not sex crime; the police give you a ticket and make you pay a fine or spent a night in jail. I don't know what state you live in but that's pretty harsh to consider someone a register sex offender for just skinny dipping, urinating in public, or having sex in public (unless you do all this with a child or someone you've bounded up and gag).

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (1)

Slammer64 (1031980) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882105)

But it's for the children! Sorry, just had to throw that in.

Re:Tired of scare tactics. (1)

amateur6 (1597289) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882325)

"First they came for the sex offenders, and I was silent, because I was not a sex offender..."

This is too fucking cool... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28880987)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Moore,_Jr. [wikipedia.org]

I'd say things haven't changed too much at either the state or the federal level since Mr. Moore's days...

Re:This is too fucking cool... (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882281)

They should be mandated to do this more often.

If one out of 20 laws removed their salaries and advantages in flowery and incomprehinsible writing, maybe they'd be more careful.

It just goes to say that the current way lawmaking works is broken (in case anybody still doubted that).

I went to Crete where the "Gortyn" code was (still is, for the most part) on public display. It was mostly simple and to the point. ( [wikipedia.org] article [wikipedia.org] )

This is the kind of thing that gave birth to the modern legal fallacy that "to ignore the law is no excuse" (paraphrasing). Back then, when there actually was a common law it made sense. Now it doesn't. Even the lawmakers can't understand the law. It's just a game, the rules of which can be bent any way by money, power, the media or whatever the current mass hysteria is ("protect the children", the terrorists are out to get us", etc.)

Candy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28880995)

Interesting the screenshot centers on Hershy Park. I wonder what that insinuates.

Re:Candy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881625)

It insinuates that many faggots go to Hershey Park to ride the Hershey Highway in public, and are promptly and rightly arrested and convicted of their foul poopy-dick perversions.

Awesome (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881015)

Now, as these individuals are still clearly that dangerous that their names and locations need to be kept in a public database, why do we even let them roam the streets?

Shouldn't they still be behind bars if they are that much of a danger to society?

Shouldn't we defend ourselves against them it the lawmakers obviously don't?

Re:Awesome (2, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881191)

The fact is many of them have done their time. If they were truely considered not to have reformed they'd still be in prison.
In the UK Those that have been released and are deemed 'high risk' are monitored regularly, and the local neighbours are informed. Those who are deemed 'low risk' are generally free to do what they please, and the authorities are not required to divulge the information to the public. They have served their time and are likely remorseful. If you have no faith that someone can change, or that the law may have got something WRONG (an innocent person who's served their time shouldn't then have the rest of their lives ruined by an accusation)

Re:Awesome (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881325)

In the UK Those that have been released and are deemed 'high risk' are monitored regularly, and the local neighbours are informed.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA They are so well monitored at any one time they are unsure were a third (iirc) of them are. It's been all over the news (yes i do take the news with a pinch of salt) how crap the monitoring is.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881751)

well, now there's an app for that.

Re:Awesome (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881255)

Shouldn't we defend ourselves against them it the lawmakers obviously don't?

Hear, hear bring out the pitchforks and torches, burn down every brewery, distillery and liquor shop as they are major accomplishes in sex offences. [bakelblog.com]

Debt to society? (5, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881045)

Was their debt to society ever paid? What was the point of their prison sentence?

How many more years until realtors no longer sell houses in certain areas to sex offenders? Or even more scary, how long until we only let them live in certain areas? Maybe even put up a fence around the area? Post guards at the gates?

Ya, getting a little dramatic, but this BS where any soccer mom can pick up her iPhone and gawk with her friends at all the "criminals" in their neighborhood.. It's getting sickening..

If these people are still dangerous, keep them locked up. If they are no longer dangerous, don't make public lists that they have to register on.

Either you're guilty and you pay your debt, or you're paid your debt and are no longer guilty.

Personally, if I had a daughter, I'd teach her to be aware of her surroundings and be wary of strangers, just like I was taught. List or no list, if a predator is out there, he's going to hunt. Some list that further punishes those that have paid their debt won't save my child, or yours.

Re:Debt to society? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881293)

Has anyone read Les Miserables? The story of Jean Valjean sounds very similar - the label of 'Convict' was carried for life. The fact that he had committed a crime in his youth meant that he was a criminal forever, in the mind of society and the law - he could not hold a job, travel, or live without permission from the police.

I don't think that specific knowledge as to former criminals who have served their time and are now living in your area is necessary. It would be not be helpful in any meaningful way to the public and would make it very difficult for the people on the list to live normal lives. The fact that the sex offender list is very loose as to who becomes assigned to it makes the situation worse.

Re:Debt to society? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881321)

Personally, if I had a daughter, I'd teach her to be aware of her surroundings and be wary of strangers, just like I was taught. List or no list, if a predator is out there, he's going to hunt. Some list that further punishes those that have paid their debt won't save my child, or yours.

Not only that, but the thing no one seems to mention with all this "think of the children" crap is that, by far, the most cases of child abuse (sexual or not) are perpetrated by family members.

Family perpetrators (2, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881877)

For physical abuse, the in-home family rate is very high, I've heard 90%.

For sexual abuse it's way lower, in the 40-50% range. Another 40-50% is from family members not living at home and others familiar to the child, such as neighbors and the like.

The bulk of the remaining 5-10% are from people who have a more distant connection with the victim. The number of "stranger kidnappings" of children in America is about 500 a year, less than 2 a day in a country with 300M people.

Re:Debt to society? (1)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881393)

I agree, this whole thing is ridiculous. Too much information is as bad as too little. A lot of people are going gung-ho over the whole app-revolution thing, which I think, along with things like facebook/twitter is just a passing fad. Either teenagers or people who have nothing worthwhile to do will spend their time gawking at all these.

Re:Debt to society? (2, Insightful)

Important Remark (1604945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881527)

How this gets moderated insightful is beyond me. You consider 'dangerous' as a binary: Either you are and you should be locked up, or you are not and you should have all the rights that everyone else has. The real world is just not that simple, and an in-between form (you are not in prisson but you get watched very carefully) may allow offenders to return to freedom at least in some sense, while the higher probability of this person to commit a crime again is also addressed. Oh, and should you ever have a daughter, they come without the right developement tools so they may very well end up a little different than you hoped them to be.

Re:Debt to society? (4, Informative)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881635)

How many more years until realtors no longer sell houses in certain areas to sex offenders? Or even more scary, how long until we only let them live in certain areas?

Already happened. Check out this story [jaunted.com] . Turns out Miami passed restrictions on where offenders can live that are so restrictive that the only place available to them is under a bridge. Seriously.

Re:Debt to society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882367)

I've heard they have the sickest parties.

Re:Debt to society? (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881693)

They're already forced to live under bridges: http://www.cnsnews.com/Public/Content/article.aspx?RsrcID=45831 [cnsnews.com] :

quoting:

Wiese is among 52 sex offenders living under a busy bridge over Biscayne Bay that connects Miami to Miami Beach. The state insisted two years ago it would urge them to leave, but the community has only grown.
It has become a makeshift town of parolees and others who struggle to find affordable housing that doesnâ(TM)t violate strict local ordinances against sex offenders living too close to schools, parks and other places children congregate.
In the angled area where the bridge meets a concrete slope, residents have put up domed tents, a shack housing a makeshift kitchen, a camper, even a weight bench. They've spray painted the slope and the pillars supporting the bridge: âoeWe âRâ(TM) Not Monsters.â âoeThey Treat Animals Better!!!â âoeWhy?â
âoeThey throw us under here and just hope that we can do something ourselves,â said 47-year-old Wiese, standing in the doorway to a small shack made of collected wood scraps. âoeIf I was a murderer, they would help me, they would find me a home, they would find me a job.â
[...]
Once entered in the sex offender registry, a person typically stays for life. In Miami-Dade County, such people must live at least 2,500 feet from places children gather, making only a handful of areas--generally out of an offender's price range--possible homes. The countyâ(TM)s rules governing its 1,030 registered sex offenders are considered among the stateâ(TM)s most restrictive.
  Many offenders have family or friends who would house them but can't because they live too close to a school or playground or bus stop.
  The state says offenders found the bridge because it was among the few covered places in compliance with the local ordinances. Officials say probation officers haven't suggested it outright, though some residents dispute that. Either way, it has become one of the only solutions.
  âoeSometimes when a probation officer is helping somebody to look for a place to live and they're not having any luck and the probation officer is required to know where a person is every night, they may suggest that there is a place where they can check on them," Rackleff said.

Re:Debt to society? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881883)

Given that sex offenders are 90% likely to repeat their crimes according to this article http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/how-likely-are-sex-offenders-to-repeat-their-crimes-258
it makes sense to track them.

Re:Debt to society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882179)

I must say, using as your source an article that goes completely against your claims is certainly new to me.

Meanwhile, the existing research raises tough questions about the relative danger child molesters pose to society. Their likelihood of being convicted for a crime after release is much lower than average for all criminals released from prison, and even for all sex offenders, at least in the short term, as measured by a Bureau of Justice Statistics study and others. Yet their crimes, when they do repeat child abuse, are unusually harmful, and their victims particularly vulnerable. Does that justify the closer monitoring of child molesters after release, compared with other criminals? Dr. Doren isn't sure, pointing out, for example, that convicted rapists are more likely to re-offend in the years immediately after release, and more likely to commit other violent crimes. "If we're concerned about violence generically, it's rapists we should be concerned about" in the short term, he said.

Re:Debt to society? (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881969)

any soccer mom can pick up her iPhone and gawk with her friends at all the "criminals" ... If these people are still dangerous, keep them locked up.

There is a gigantic dose of frightening irony in all this: Sex offenders (and for the moment let's assume the very worst kinds of sex offenders such as kiddie molestors) are statistically much more likely to reoffend when exposed to high levels of stress ... for example the kind of stress that comes from having a bunch of iphone-wielding soccer moms tsk-tsking to their friends ans scowling every time they see you in public ... the kind of stress that comes from being socially isolated and shunned when a person is making a good faith effort to get well again, be part of a neighbourhood, and function in society.

Stress is a known addiction trigger, and this app is a guaranteed stress generator.

Re:Debt to society? (2, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882081)

The whole concept of the "debt to society" is hosed. Was Bruce Perlowin's debt paid? The so-called "King of Pot" is an unrepentant smuggler of marijuana who has now gone legit, and is the head of a successful public company that's helping to promote the medical use of the plant. It's not a debt, it's an agreement. We have an agreement that we want to live in a certain kind of world. If you don't agree, we'll lock you up and smack you around for a while. If you still don't agree, we'll do it again until we just decide to stop letting you roam the streets. If you play ball, you get a house and 2.5 kids. That's the American Dream.

What's problematic, here, is that we have a class of "disagreement" that we won't let go, so no matter how reformed you are, we won't shake hands and make nice. In essence, we're violating the agreement.

IMHO, there's a place for laws like this. I do think that someone who has committed violent acts in the past should be monitored for some period of time after they're released. If those violent acts are against children, I can see parents wanting to know if they're moving into an area where someone who hasn't yet been cleared lives. Problem is a) we don't classify crimes in a way that maps to future risk and b) we don't have any way that someone can clear their name by demonstrating an ability to abide by the agreement over time.

If we solved those two problems, then this iPhone app would only be a concern in so far as people tend to take the law into their own hands. Because of that, I do think that the information should be anonymized for the public (knowing that there's someone living on this block is one thing... knowing their address and name is asking for problems).

Re:Debt to society? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882145)

Was their debt to society ever paid?

According to current law, the answer apparently is no.

To be honest i'm torn on this issue. I fully believe in the concept that once you have paid your debt you should be allowed to get on with your life. However, this is in the realm of mental illness, and simple prison time does NOT cure you of it. So which is more important, the safety of the area or your rights to be left alone with a potentially dangerous ( to others ) illness still brewing. We do isolate infectious people, is this different? I donno..

( note i'm not including the 'taking a wizz on the side of the road and accidentally being seen )

Safer with a list? Hardly. (3, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882365)

"So which is more important, the safety of the area or your rights to be left alone with a potentially dangerous ( to others ) illness still brewing."

This is where I lose people. How does a list protect you, in _any_ way?

Do you routinely allow your children to walk into the homes of strangers? I suppose this list would tell you what strangers houses should be off limits.

Do you routinely follow _every_ "criminal" on the list in your given area and make certain to call your child on their cell phone to give them directions to "avoid" said "criminal? If so, I suppose this list could help.

Fact of the matter is, list or no list, predators will hunt. They will hunt their prey. Children, cute women, men that look scared, etc, etc, etc. A list will do _nothing_ to stop a predator. Unless you really believe that a sick individual with intentions to harm "your" child really will second guess their decision and decide, "you know what, I'm on a list and should probably stay in and watch a movie instead of picking up and molesting that little boy down the street. I know my loins tingle at the thought but you know, that list calms me right down and makes me not want to do it now!". Ya, the list saved another!

So again, how would a list like this _ever_ make you safer than before you had that list?

Re:Debt to society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882477)

As opposed to all those violent non-sexual offenders we release, which have no problems at all, not even slightly, and their prison time did wonders for them and now they shit rainbows and flowers.

Re:Debt to society? (1)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882487)

I completely agree with you, however I get the feeling that the government feels they aren't dangerous enough to lock up, but are dangerous enough to keep tabs on; kind of like a sentance of jailtime plus a lifetime of probation.

What really bothers me is that there are offenders who are required to register who were sentanced before these registries came into being. If the judge feels they ought to register, while I disagree, so be it. But for the state to append to a sentance is precarious from a legal standpoint in my opinion.

Already the courts have decided a state can take "administrative actions" like revoking your drivers license if arrested for DUI without a trial by jury. Pretty soon the state will be able to do whatever they feel like short of incarceration without a trial.

You'd have thought that a mobile provider (2, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881093)

You'd have thought that a mobile provider might figure that these guys move around.

Re:You'd have thought that a mobile provider (4, Funny)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882233)

We've tried tracking them with satellite imagery but that only shows they aren't on the roof of their house.

Re:You'd have thought that a mobile provider (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882329)

And when they do, they are required to notify the state before, and after.

Sexy time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881103)

Makes finding a sexy time easier than ever!

Tracker... or hit list.. (2, Insightful)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881105)

If only 47 had a cell phone with gps location of his targets...

Cool! (3, Funny)

Mr. Firewall (578517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881117)

Now when I'm in a strange town, I'll always be able to find the REALLY KINKY action!

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882459)

Only if you're 12.

Yay, eternal punishment. (4, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881129)

I care more about knowing where known pickpockets are, in relation to my current whereabouts.

Not whether someone got caught taking a piss behind a bush, or who had sex with someone two years younger than them when they were a teenager.

When you overextend a label such as 'sex offender' (adding noise to signal), the label becomes meaningless, and those that actually deserve that label are less noticeable in the noise.

But not before dumb vigilantes attack a few paediatricians ...

Convenient (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881185)

Sweet, now I can always find my friends easily!

Beware! Here be sex offenders! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881207)

Beware! Sex offenders!

Doesn't take much to get people up in arms. Most of us imagine some rampaging dirty old man abducting screaming children from the streets. It's terrible. They need to be tracked and dealt with - obviously.

But what percentage of the sex offenders really fit that description? How many were teenagers whose girlfriend/boyfriend was maybe a year or two younger than themselves? How many offenders were under age themselves at the time of the offence? Which offences are included in the category and what percentage of the offences fit into each of those categories? Does the category include men who have patted a women on the behind and ended up in court on the strength of it? Are women who brazenly expose their breasts at public events included too?

Before we go bandying around the 50,000 figure let's at least establish what it means.

Re:Beware! Here be sex offenders! (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882109)

Are women who brazenly expose their breasts at public events included too?

I would think so - where else are geeks going to find women in real life willing to show them their breasts?

Why Sex Offenders? (5, Informative)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881251)

What is with the excessive demonization of sex offenders today? What makes this class of crime the worst by such a large margin that we need a whole separate form of punishment? Why not a murderer registry? Certainly murder is a more serious crime, right?
Furthermore, if the government can ascertain fully enough that these people are very dangerous and likely to commit their same crimes again, WTF are they doing free? Shouldn't they be in prison or a mental hospital if that is the case?

BTW to the other posters -- only Class 2 and 3 sex offenders show up on the registry -- these are usually the nasty, malicious ones. The bush-pissers and streakers end up as Class 1. Still extremely odious, but not quite as bad, and their names are not made pubic, errr... public.

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (4, Insightful)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881431)

What category is this?

On January 19th, a Florida state appeals court decided that minors could be prosecuted for child pornography even if the subject of that pornography is him/herself. The case involved two Florida teens who took pictures of themselves involved in sexual behavior. The photos were intended for their own personal use and neither teen shared the photos with anyone else. From Police Blotter [cnet.com] :

On March 25, 2004, Amber and Jeremy took digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified âoesexual behavior.â The two sent the photos from a computer at Amberâ(TM)s house to Jeremyâ(TM)s personal e-mail address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else. Court records donâ(TM)t say exactly what happened nextâ"perhaps the parents wanted to end the relationship and raised the alarmâ"but somehow Florida police learned about the photos. Amber and Jeremy were arrested. Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography.

Source [wordpress.com]

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882067)

Ahh... yes. This is highly disturbing. I am not sure where this would be categorized, but that is completely insane that a minor could be charged like that. Please note that I don't use the class thing as justification for the registry, I am just clarifying that if you get caught peeing in a bush, you aren't going to be visible on the registry's website. I think that the idea of it really stinks of a witch hunt and is flawed on more or less every possible level.

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881517)

Do you seriously want to know or is that rhetorical? I think the answer is obvious, it is because the image in our mind of a "sex offender" is someone who is likely to steal a young child, rape and kill it, leaving its family torn and destroyed with grief.

Its a powerful image. An utterly bullshit image. However, its the image that people have in their mind when they froth as they mark their disdain for sex offenders.

Its also a bullshit image, when the majority of child abuse is done by family members. Bullshit when getting drunk and taking a piss behind a bush at 2 am makes you a sex offender. Bullshit when a girl claiming to be of age when she isn't can have you labeled a sex offender.

I am just waiting for the first time a child is lost and someone jumps to conclusions when they see a red dot on their map and some innocent person is killed for their hysteria.

MAYBE that will wake some people up.

-Steve

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881555)

Goverment needs people to fear someone. They need source of their fears be always withing walking distance and source of fears that can be easily demonized. Someone they can 'protect' citizens from.

Besides, it is awesome to have this great label which can be stuck on someone. Label that will completely destroy their life withing minutes and which can never be taken off because of social stigma. Something to fear for any troublemaker.

Murder is not good crime for that. It was glorified by media and actually celebrated. Sexual stuff is much more darker and twisted and much easier to stick on someone.

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881929)

What is with the excessive demonization of sex offenders today? What makes this class of crime the worst by such a large margin that we need a whole separate form of punishment? Why not a murderer registry? Certainly murder is a more serious crime, right?

First, note that I'm not disagreeing with your main point. Still, I'd say the difference is this: there are justifiable homicides, but never any justifiable offenses against children. I'm not condoning murder, but I can imagine circumstances where someone might kill a specific person in retribution or to end long running torture or abuse. The murderer might be an otherwise good person who would never kill again outside that exact situation, and although punishment might be appropriate depending on the facts, they don't pose a danger to society.

Contrast with sexual offenses [1], where a low estimate of recidivism is at about 52% [wsj.com] . Such offenders do represent a real, long-term threat to those around them. I'm not sure how to reconcile that with the idea of "paying one's debt to society", because while I believe that serving a prison sentence should wipe the slate clean, there's no way I'd move my family next to someone with "only" a 52% chance of repeating their crime.

[1] I mean real ones, like adults preying on children. 18 year old boys having sex with their 17 year old girlfriends, or peeing on trees, or fooling around in cars doesn't count. I imagine the recidivism rate of those "crimes" approaches 100%.

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882181)

"Contrast with sexual offenses [1], where a low estimate of recidivism is at about 52% [wsj.com]. Such offenders do represent a real, long-term threat to those around them. I'm not sure how to reconcile that with the idea of "paying one's debt to society", because while I believe that serving a prison sentence should wipe the slate clean, there's no way I'd move my family next to someone with "only" a 52% chance of repeating their crime."

I heartily agree with you -- which is where my second point came from. It is appalling how little time some of these people spend in prison. I am all for increasing the minimum sentence for child rape to life without parole. I couldn't support the death penalty for this crime, but I don't think you ought to ever see the light of day again if you are 52% likely to commit the same crime -- a silly little list on the Intertubes is no substitute for concrete and steel. I mean, pot dealers go to jail LONGER than child rapists! Why not stop sending pot dealers to jail, so we have more room for the child rapists?

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882265)

18 year old boys having sex with their 17 year old girlfriends... I imagine the recidivism rate of those "crimes" approaches 100%.

Not after a year or so.

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (1)

Fished (574624) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882203)

Simple... every sort of study done has shown that certain sorts of sex offenders (i.e. pedophiles) are basically not "curable." They WILL do it again given the opportunity. Now, the problem as it stands is that these "real" sex offenders are often lumped together with others who don't fall into that category... but that's a separate issue.

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882339)

My response to that would be to lock them up -- knowing where they live is simply not enough. If they are likely to commit their crimes again, keep them in jail. If necessary, keep them in jail until they die.

Re:Why Sex Offenders? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882421)

Technically every offender is registered in a sense, its all public record, and you have to admit it every time you get a job or get a place to live.

Amazing (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881277)

Truly amazing. Now are we going to see Slashdot stories for the other 1,000 iPhone apps that are just as useful?

iProstitute (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881297)

Can't wait until people start using this to find the homes of convicted prostitutes, who can't get a decent job because they're on the sex offender registry, so they are desperate for money. And you know the pic is accurate unlike craigslist.

What could possibly go wrong?

making it easier to find your next target... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881309)

How long until this gets turned into a vigilante application?

Making it easier to find the next person to beat up and leave your conscience free.

Umm, nice society some of us live in.

Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881315)

Sounds like a great social networking tool for PedoBear to make all kinds of new Pedo friends...wonderful.. .

Most child molesters are family (2, Interesting)

matria (157464) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881389)

At least 40% of all child molestations are by family members with no previous record. It's a pity my mom didn't have something like this to let her know all those years when my dad was molesting me.

Re:Most child molesters are family (-1, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881509)

"It's a pity my mom didn't have something like this to let her know all those years when my dad was molesting me."

Yeah , or heres a radical idea - you could have friggin told her.

Re:Most child molesters are family (2, Informative)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881811)

Yeah , or heres a radical idea - you could have friggin told her.

Ah, the typical response by someone who's never had this happen to them. You do know that you're basically telling this person they "didn't scream loud enough [biblegateway.com] " during the rape, don't you?

Re:Most child molesters are family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881607)

Its more like 80-90% of victims know their attacker.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881415)

A name, an address, and a scary label can be worse than total ignorance.

Without knowing the circumstances of the crime, the person's attitude towards rehabilitation, and the person's current life situation, you can easily conclude that your friendly neighborhood sex offender is more dangerous to your children than your happily-married, church-going brother.

You could be very mistaken.

Sex offenders who take treatment seriously have some of the lowest recidivism rates.

Those who were once college students dating 14- and 15-year-olds whose tastes matured as they did are no more risk to anyone than the average Joe.

If we are going to have a dangerous-ex-offender list, it should be reserved for the truly dangerous.

I use it on a daily basis. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881421)

Nothing beats finding concentration of sick horny woman looking for next victim to abuse and going there half naked.

Pure bullshit (5, Informative)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881435)

'Knowledge equals safety. They know where you and your family are...now it's time to turn the tables so that you know where they live and can make better decisions about where to allow your kids to play.'

Oh really? The US DoJ's Inspector General had some withering criticism [examiner.com] of the utility of the information sources this guy is relying on.

"We found that the registries that make up the national sex offender registration system - the FBI's National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) and the state public sex offender registries accessed through OJP's National Sex Offender Public Registry Website (NSOPR) - are inaccurate and incomplete. As a result, neither law enforcement officials nor the public can rely on the registries for identifying registered sex offenders, particularly those who are fugitives."

Re:Pure bullshit (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881771)

As a result, neither law enforcement officials nor the public can rely on the registries for identifying registered sex offenders, particularly those who are fugitives.

We can't use it to find fugitives???? Damn, I thought we had a psychic app here, what a disappointment.

Yeah, but it'll help you find... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882001)

The sex offenders who probably just want to be left alone and/or the ones who committed serious sex crimes like boning their girlfriend in high school, pissing in the bushes or buying their younger brother a playboy or R-rated movie.

Sure beats Fling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28881437)

Just what I needed, A new way of finding a date with a just the right amount of info to know what they're into.

Charging? (2, Interesting)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881453)

I just did an App Store search on my iPhone for "iPhone Offender", and sure enough the first result was a list of sexual offenders.

Curious about how many are in my area, I thought I'd download it. Turns out to "think of the children" (in the good way... not the way that gets you on the list) costs money. Which is odd because there are official government resources that will give you this information, online, free of charge.

I can't believe someone's trying to make money off of this. Doesn't feel right to me.

Law of Unintended Consequences (4, Funny)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881473)

This sounds like an excellent way for people with similar interests to hook up with each other. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Law of Unintended Consequences (1)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881909)

they can do that now just by getting a public access PC and search any state police sites to locate their kind. So what's you point?

Re:Law of Unintended Consequences (1)

Dalzhim (1588707) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882417)

This is precisely what I was thinking. They can even decide the meeting point by calculating the lowest average traveling distance from their respective homes.

Paranoia (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881515)

Be sure to live your life scared of everything in the world around you. It's the modern, 21st Century way of life!

Weed smoker registry (2, Interesting)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881557)

They should make an app like this for weed smokers and growers so people can buy local and avoid the creepy criminal dudes. Also they should legalize weed, it's safer than alcohol in every way and hemp is a miracle plant. What's up with that?

Not Impressed (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881623)

Looks like another way for police to track you down to harass you to me. I am reall surprised that the rest of you don't see the implications here. If they can make a program that specifically tracks "sex-offenders", they can most likely (and probably already have MANY) specifically track YOU! I don't want to be tracked, at all. For the most part, I would like no one to know where I am at any given time. This is just another step into the surveillance-state as far as I am concerned.

-Oz.

Idle (2, Interesting)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881723)

Why is this article or Idle? Since the article is relevant to anybody who has at some point in their life urinated behind a tree, a more serious category such as YRO, IT, or News seems appropriate.

Sign me up! (3, Funny)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881761)

I don't like children. Can I register myself as in the list so that parents go make their spawnlings cry and shout somewhere else ? Can I register a dozen of imaginary offenders too ?

Nice app, but (1)

NoNsense (6950) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881865)

Next well need to track them real time so when you are at a baseball game you know who is behind you. Tether everyone to a GPS unit and make sure that an alarm goes off when they look in your direction. Honestly, what the hell ever happened to you don't talk to strangers? Many people know their attackers, because they gain access, which mean the parents are not doing their job. Sorry, but all the tech in the wolrd does not justify tracking people who may have committed a crime and there is no proof they will do it again. Even if there is a propencity, today anyone who is convicted is put through the ringer, has to register, can't find work, a place to live, goes to mandatory therapy, is tracked. If they go through all this and have served their time, there is no justification to keep badgering them. You give them an impossible set of rules to follow, they are going to give up because they will feel doomed to failure. And the rules for where they can live are ludicrous, weather it is 50 feet for 10,000 feet, if they want to offend they will. All this fell-good legislation does is try to get politicians re-elected.

Don't get me wrong, you do something once, and you're given a second chance (a real chance) and I am fine with judges handing out what they think is fair based on the case evidence and their knowledge of the average cases they preside over. And if they are lucky enough to get a "deal" and spare a costly trial, putting the victims through more, etc then I can agree with a plea that gives them some punishment, some supervision and a ton of therapy. If the person does it again, well, sorry, your dance card is used up and they have proven their inability or desire to change.

Risk of attack by known people (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28881927)

I thought that the majority of offenses against children were by people already known to the family/child? So what does this App add aside from scare mongering?

Look at Dade County for What Can Go Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882049)

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106689642 [npr.org] . An aggressive law requiring sex offenders to be > 2500 feet from certain types of establishments has resulted in a sex offender tent colony under a bridge. Oh yeah! This is the type of side-effect these laws have. But no one really cares because it works to keep them out of their own neighborhood and they perceive that their children are safe. Think of the children. Don't consider that you have effectively eliminated any chance of them returning to normal live after they serve their sentence. Thankfully there are cases like http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/17/trailer.sexoffender/index.html [cnn.com] where an entire trailer park has become home to sex offenders. The locals don't like it but hey they created the laws that lead to this being the only solution. Pushing sex offenders into these "communities" reminds me of the early treatment of the Jews in Poland. Anyone else see these as sex offender ghettos?

Brings up a more important question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882053)

"They know where you and your family are"

Where can I get this app?

it allow you to know your friends better (1)

OrangeMonkey11 (1553753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882127)

the funny thing i can see out of all this is if someone has a friend in their contact that is a registered sex offender and never knew.

Am I on this app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882135)

I wonder if I am on the app?

Oh wait it is REGISTERED sex offenders.

reading all these slashdot comments (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28882403)

you do realize that some of you sound more hysterical than the "won't somebody think of the children" tired meme you are supposedly skewering, right?

let's put it this way: underneath all of the teenagers emailing each other naked pictures, there actually exists actual pedophiles who actually harm children, and society has every logical and moral reason to do something about them. btw, they are also highly recidivist: you murder once for certain reasons, then you may never murder again, but once a pedophile, always a pedophile

so here's a clue for the whole lot of the slashdot high holy indignation brigade: you figure out a better way to deal with pedophiles. until then, criticizing without proposing a superior alternative means nothing will change. and no, i'm sorry, doing nothing is not a viable alternative

because, believe it or not, there are parents out there who aren't sex-phobic social conservatives who are genuinely and rightfully worried about their children's exposure to actual, real pedophiles who prey on prepubescent kids. yes, you heard it here first (apparently): believe it or not, pedophiles aren't made up bogeymen, pedophiles actually exist, and are actually a danger to children in their communities

you may now say they are few and rare, that exposure to sex with an adult is harmless, etc., etc.

and completely miss the point of my comment

and therefore continue to exist in the same useless hysterical population of people you are supposedly standing against

get a clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28882473)

The last time I checked statutory rape did apply to what society deems as children.
Also, to the guy whose is worried about taking a leak in public - there are 3 levels of sex offender. Level 1 applies to the people who can't hold it. Level 3 applies to the folks you might actually want to be aware of.

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