Sunday, June 11, 2006

In-person verification fails: showing Show-Mes

Something that seems to escape a lot of lawmakers is that in-person verification of registration information is totally useless. Somehow the lawmakers of the "Show Me" state fell into this stupid (or merely unthinking -- Missouri clearly needs a new slogan: might I suggest "We're All Suckers Here"?) trap, as reported in this inflammatory-titled piece, Predators in hiding:

Arvel Walls Jr. obeyed the law. Or so officials thought.

On the registry for a 1993 statutory sexual seduction conviction in Nevada, he dutifully reported in person quarterly to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department to reconfirm his residency in the 5200 block of Spruce Avenue.

But when Star reporters knocked on that door, a woman answered with a puzzled look on her face.

“I don’t know Arvel Walls,” she said. “We’ve lived here for about five years.”

The next day she contacted the Sheriff’s Department and asked to have her address removed from the registry.

“He was compliant,” said Sgt. Gary Kilgore, who oversees the county’s registry. “Other than giving us the wrong address.”

Duh. It shouldn't take Missouri's best & brightest (that is what they elect, right?) for than five minutes of concentrated thought to figure this one out.

You don't ask for the confirmation; you go to an independent means of verification!

Some locales have figured this out and use the Post Office's methods of guaranteed delivery instead. (I am not really familiar with all of these, what comes to mind is a letter that is "registered, return receipt requested".) The announcement of the successful delivery of the letter at a secific address to a person who ID'ed himself to a postal employee counts for much more than a vocal "yessir, I still live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" at some government office.

There's an added benefit to this method: it eliminates much of the in-your-face element that drives some of these guys underground, making them much more dangerous than before.

The question to lawmakers then would seem to be:
- are you interested in reducing recidivism, or
- are you interested in playing the bully for the popular vote?


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