Calgary Group Introduces Public Sex Offender Registry

You’re a single mom with three young kids and unbeknownst to you, your next-door-neighbour is a convicted pedophile on probation after serving a miniscule prison sentence. Oh yes, he refused treatment while locked up. Don’t you think you’d want to know?

If you lived in the United States you would know, because since 1994 Americans and everybody else, has access to the National Sex Offender Registry operated by the U.S. Department of Justice. A user-friendly site, you just click on the State you want to search, then select a County and presto!…mugshots galore. I checked out our neighbours in Whatcom County, Washington where 59 names, photos and addresses popped up.

So what’s the fuss about Canada Family Action launching their website yesterday at What are the civil liberties issues and why was threatened with lawsuits, as reported in the National Post?

It sounds to me like the usual group of whiners who challenge any activity that supports a law and order perspective. The notion of legal action against these concerned citizens is amusing, since the data collected and listed by is readily available from many of Canada’s leading news outlets and the website provides readers with their media sources for the information they publish. The site does not print specific addresses, but indicates the city where the offence occurred.

The issue of the civil rights of convicted sex offenders is more complicated with the main concerns focusing on vigilantism and false identification, both issues that have been endlessly debated in the United States.

The United States Supreme Court has examined the laws on sex offender registries in two cases. In Smith v. Doe, Alaska’s highest court held that the retroactive registration of offenders in their public database was punitive and therefore, unconstitutional. The U.S Supreme Court overturned their finding in a 6-3 decision and upheld the Alaska law, reasoning that the law was civil, not criminal and not punitive.

In Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe, America’s highest court overturned the Connecticut Appeal Court who found that the public disclosure required by the Connecticut law was unconstitutional. The Justices held that injury to reputation in and of itself, even if defamatory, was not a deprivation of liberty and was not unconstitutional.

If Canada Family Action continues to obtain their data from reliable major media outlets, it is unlikely they will fall afoul of legitimate privacy issues. Vigilantism is a rare event in Canada but recognizes the potential problem and displays a disclaimer warning their readers against it.

In my view, is a helpful compilation of information gleaned from major media sources, gathered by proactive citizens who place a greater value on protecting the vulnerable than coddling criminals.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


9 thoughts on “Calgary Group Introduces Public Sex Offender Registry

  1. Do some research. Learn that the registry has not changed anything. The latest study tracked reported sex crimes in New York from ten years before the public registry went into effect until eleven years after. No difference. 95% of sexual crime was committed by those not on the registry both before and after. Very low recidivism rate both before and after. Trust me, you do NOT want to emulate the United States in its sex offender industry. It is a monster that swallows many millions of dollars and several million people yearly without accomplishing what it promises. It does not work.

  2. Good post, Shelly Stow.

    People get pretty anxious about the idea of interacting with a ‘pervert.’ It is difficult for them to see reason when faced with the fear of sexual assault (of themselves or their loved ones), whether that fear is well-placed or not.

    Often, such ‘Security Theatre’ harms more people than it helps. A sex offender who experiences rejection, disgust, and exclusion may actually be pushed to offend again. If a person’s going to be treated like a monster for the rest of their life no matter what, then what incentive is there to rehabilitate?

    The idea of letting a sex offender live out his or her life quietly (with any necessary restrictions, obviously, emphasis on ‘necessary’) is morally outrageous to many people. ACTUALLY preventing sex crimes and protecting vulnerable people takes a backseat to punishing those who engage in offensive behavior, even if the ultimate effect is to cause more harm than it prevents.

  3. Mary, you have explained the “righteous indignation” well, and that is indeed what drives many. May I have your permission to do a little plagiarizing if the need for such an explanation arises?

  4. While on the recent election trail, Tim Hudak and the Ontario Conservatives outlined their intention to make the Ontario sex offender registry public. The response from the experts were overwhelming. Take a moment to examine why police forces across Ontario and federal politicians (including Canada’s Public Safety Minister) so strongly opposed the suggestion.

  5. Wow. I love the intro paragraph. How about we rephrase the question she poses. Your a parent who is living next t a person convicted of a sexual offense who has spent years in jail and paid his debt to society and who thorough studies have shown the likely hood of recidivness for sex offenders is lower than any other crime as especially violent ones. Reminder not all sex offenses are violent some are possession of images some are peeping ect… not that this is OK but I’d rather know if I was living next to a drug addict who has been convicted of home invasion or armed robery to support his/her habbit personally. That person poses a way more immediate threat and likelyhood to commit the same crime. Its crazy she has to paint this scary picture and put in stuff like served a miniscule sentence this reekes of bias obviously not a rational mind. BTW ppl aren’t convicted of being pedophiles they are convicted of sex crimes and while a sex crime can be committed by a pedophile the large portion of those crimes are not by ppl who are deemed pedophiles by psychiatrists even ones involving a minor. Pedophilia is a very specific type of sexual disorder not to be used as a blanket statement in your fear mongering.

  6. These laws are all based on “only if”. Example, “only of there was a registry my kid would not have been hurt”. Its not just sex offenses either its any tragedy like school shootings always triggering mass media semsationalizing and political knee jerk reactions to “do something” to make ppl feel this problem is less likely to happen. This is flawed logic. Back to registry’s for a second. I’m a parent and I would never rely on any registry to protect my child nor do I feel anymore comfortable knowing its there. 94-97% of all sex crimes are committed by first time offenders since the inception of registration in the U.S and by first time I mean ever been caught not that they haven’t done this more than once. This shows that its the devil you don’t know not the one on the registry you do know. Before you say that it’s because the registry is working just know recidivness hasn’t changed with registration, actually it was on the decline prior to Megan’s law and no hard evidence to show it is helping. Some states are even seeing sharp increases in sexual offenses. And Mary’s point is right on. If we shun these ppl from employment and society in general we are creating the same recipe for disaster that created many of these ppl which is isolation and low self esteem. Ppl’s perception of a pedophile is often the old creepy guy who lives in a basement while that’s not true that is what we are creating by shunning them. Ppl in despair do desperate things. And the previous poster is right on about being responsible for protecting your own child and not relying on what the author calls a use full tool. Its an excuse to make ppl feel better. The fact is you could always have gotten info about your neighbor. Crimes and backgrounds are public knowledge and I would certainly do this before my child ever went any where with any adult regardless of a registration. I’m not looking for just sex offenses. I want to know if this person has say a DUI before my son gets in the car to go to a pro football game with this guy band his kids etc.. its called due diligence and ppl who don’t due their due diligence and tragedy strikes understandably look form ways to blame others to lessen their pain. I’m not saying it’s their fault the tragedy happened just it’s a coping mechanism to say “only if”.

  7. Hey moderator why did you take my comment down. It wasn’t offensive in any way. Are you just filtering ppl who disagree with the bias fear mongering the author used to make her point which she doesn’t support with any facts. If you should be taking anything down it should be her article.

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