Brock Turner Just Registered as a Sex Offender, Here's What That Means

September 6th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

As a condition of Brock Turner's release from prison after serving three months for sexual assault, the former Stanford University registered as a sex offender in his home state of Ohio on Tuesday. Here's what that actually means.


Every state has a sex offender registry, but different states have different laws with respect to the type of offenses that get you on the list, how long you have to remain registered, and what steps sex offenders must follow in order to comply with the law.

Beyond having his name, photo, age, address, and physical description listed on government websites — accessible to all, indefinitely — Turner is also required to re-register as a sex offender with local law enforcement four times per-year. That's because his offense qualified him as a Tier III sex offender, the most serious category under Ohio law; in less serious cases, sex offenders have to reregister annually.

offender map

Sex offenders must keep law enforcement updated on their place of residence, employment status, and where they're going to school. All of that information is included on national, state, and county sex offender registries, and police are supposed to randomly visit the offender to verify that the updated information is accurate. It's also against the law for sex offenders to live within a certain distance of schools and parks — but again, the exact distance varies from state to state, Slate reports.

(Turner will also have to sit Halloween out for the rest of his life, as certain states — including Ohio — have passed "no candy" laws for sex offenders, prohibiting them from passing out candy on the holiday.)

Some consider sex offender registries counterproductive.


A 2007 report from Human Rights Watch raised questioned the efficacy of sex offender registries, and raised concerns about potential privacy violations.

If former offenders simply had to register their whereabouts with the police, the adverse consequences for them would be minimal. But online sex offender registries brand everyone listed on them with a very public "scarlet letter" that signifies not just that they committed a sex offense in the past, but that by virtue of that fact they remain dangerous. With only a few exceptions, states do not impose any "need to know" limitations on who has access to the registrant's information.

What's more, strict requirements for reregistering have led to incarcerations that can actually inhibit rehabilitation efforts for sex offenders, public defender Rachel Marshall wrote for Vox. "[D]ata show that the best way to prevent crimes — particularly sex crimes — is to promote stability and security for past offenders, Marshall said. "Ripping that all away by incarcerating them for failing to register only leaves the public at risk."


Man in jail holding his cellRELATED: Artist's Eerie Photo Series Captures Sexual Assault on College Campuses