The Dobbs Wire: as SOON as the scarlet letter list is ready – IML

Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 10:38 AM

An awful new federal law is one step closer:   As soon as Homeland Security prepares a list of people subject to International Megan’s Law (IML), the US State Department will begin putting permanent scarlet letters on their passports.  Such treatment of US citizens is likely unprecedented – searches have not turned up anything similar in this country’s history.  Current passports of those on the list are going to be revoked.  The State Department has just revealed the message to be emblazoned inside new passports:  “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(l).” In addition to scarlet letter passports, International Megan’s Law, “makes it a crime, for the first time, for a sex offender to travel abroad without giving 21 days advance notice so that law enforcement has adequate time to vet the traveler and warn the destination country, if needed,” according to Rep. Chris Smith, IML’s Congressional sponsor.   The Associated Press has the latest developments, also below are excellent commentaries about IML, one by law professor Tamara Rice Lave, the other by Jacob Sullum for  Have a look!  -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire


Associated Press | Nov. 2, 2017

Child sex offenders to be named as such in US passports


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By Matt Lee


America’s registered child sex offenders will now have to use passports identifying them for their past crimes when traveling overseas.


The State Department said Wednesday it would begin revoking passports of registered child sex offenders and will require them to apply for a new one that carries a “unique identifier” of their status. Those applying for a passport for the first time will not be issued one without the identifier, which will be a notice printed inside the back cover of the passport book that reads: “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor, and is a covered sex offender pursuant to (U.S. law).”


The State Department, which issues U.S. passports, said it will start notifying those affected as soon as it receives their names from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security. That agency is charged with identifying child sex offenders and is the sole agency that can add or remove someone from the list.  MORE:



HuffPost | March 22, 2017

International Megan’s Law: America’s Global Embarrassment


By Tamara Rice Lave


What sounds like a good law in a twenty-second sound bite sometimes turns out to be less clear when one digs below the surface. Such is the case with International Megan’s Law, which President Obama recently signed into law. International Megan’s Law requires those who committed a sex offense against a child to have a permanent stamp placed on their passport. While this may sound like a no-brainer if we consider the media’s portrayal of the sexual predator, reality is far more complicated.


The stated rationale for International Megan’s Law is two fold: (1) Individuals who have offended against a child pose an extremely high risk of reoffending, and (2) Megan’s Law will stop them from doing so.  The first premise (dangerousness) is demonstrably false. Study after study has shown that sex offenders actually have a low recidivism rate. MORE: | Nov. 1, 2017

Scarlet-Letter Passports Are Unjust and Irrational

The new “unique identifier” for sex offenders stigmatizes people who pose no threat.

By Jacob Sullum


The notice, which will appear on the second-to-last page of U.S. passports, is officially known as an “endorsement,” but it is more like a badge of shame. “The bearer was convicted of a sex offense against a minor,” it says, “and is a covered sex offender pursuant to 22 United States Code Section 212b(c)(l).” Although the warning is supposedly aimed at stopping sexual predators from abusing children in other countries, it will mark the passports of many people who pose no such threat.


Instead of focusing on people who have demonstrated a propensity to commit such crimes, the IML casts a wide net that covers offenders who have never assaulted a child, let alone traveled to another country for that purpose. The Americans whose passports will brand them as international child molesters include people convicted of misdemeanors as well as felonies, people who committed their offenses as minors, people who were convicted decades ago and have never reoffended, people who as teenagers had consensual sex with other teenagers, and people who committed noncontact offenses such as sexting, streaking, public urination, and looking at child pornography.  MORE:







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