“Sex offenders are not second-class citizens”

By Jacob Sullum . . . “Sex offenders are not second-class citizens,” writes U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins in a recent decision overturning two provisions of the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act (ASORCNA) on First Amendment grounds. “The Constitution protects their liberty and dignity just as it protects everyone else’s.”

Those points, which should be obvious, are a sadly necessary corrective to the hysteria that has driven legislators in one state after another to enact indiscriminate, mindlessly restrictive, and covertly punitive laws aimed at sex offenders. ASORCNA, which Watkins calls “the most comprehensive and debilitating sex-offender scheme in the nation,” is a prime example.

Read the full piece here at reason.com.

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Donna 6 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #52354 Reply
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    admin

    By Jacob Sullum . . . “Sex offenders are not second-class citizens,” writes U.S. District Judge W. Keith Watkins in a recent decision overturning two
    [See the full post at: “Sex offenders are not second-class citizens”]

  • #52357 Reply
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    Timothy

    Serfdom,

    Well the good judge makes the claim, ” sex offenders are not second class citizens. ” Clearly his statement does not express reality as we know registrants are indeed treated as such by the general public. The same “second class” argument has been raised and rejected by those judges upholding aspects of registration law under challenge of review. Once again registrants continue to suffer unnecessary affirmative disability and broad based legal restraint while waiting on review. Even if the Superior Court here upholds all of the district judges determination on grounds, no law will have changed. (See MI)
    This outcome inevitable from the conception of database utilization to protect the public via posting and surveillance. It is big data brokers who’d have suffered most had SCOTUS opted the minority view in the DOEs concerning the true nature of state’s use of electronic domestic surveillance infrastructure.

  • #52362 Reply
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    d

    WOW the comments on the original article are very good for a change this gives me hope.

  • #52378 Reply
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    Odell Whitman

    This whole thing started by John Walsh. He Went to Washington trying to get the Government to make everyone pay for his sons death. I understand he was hurt by his sons death , But he was no better than anyone else to just let the courts handle this matter , Not put everyone at fault. But even so what happen to equal justice for all, Sex crimes are punished in prison just like other crimes. but those with a sex crime are placed on a registry which is double jeopardy.

    • #52502 Reply
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      WC_TN

      The first ideations of the registry as we know it today were pushed by the parents of two sexually abused and murdered children Jacob Wetterling (Jacob Wetterling Act) and Megan Kanka (Megan’s Law).

      What John Walsh used his celebrity status to push through congress in a closed-door session with no public debate whatsoever was the Federal S.O.R.A. that ratcheted up the severity of the registry nationwide and (at one time at least) had several obscure requirements that were resulting with even those who made good faith efforts to comply being imprisoned for violating those technicalities. I would strongly recommend consulting an attorney with intimate knowledge of the S.O.R.A. technicalities before moving from one state to another, by the way.

      It is rather ironic that now Patsy Wetterling even condemns the modern iterations of the registry.

      One can only hope that the original action brought before the Court in this case was class action; that way the ruling applies to the entire class of individuals affected by the challenged law. If not, registered citizens in Alabama will need an A.C.L.U. willing to take on the litigation that is being required to force Michigan to provide relief to all 43,000 registrants affected by the S.O.R. In TN I have approached the A.C.L.U. about challenging aspects of the community supervision law in my state and they are as useless as teats on a boar hog. They don’t want to nor do they intend to take on any sex offender-related litigation. They’re just not going to do it.

      That brings up an interesting question: Can the A.C.L.U. in a given state be sued for discriminating against registered citizens by refusing to ever take up their cause in litigation? The claim in TN is “Numerous challenges to the sex offender laws have been largely unsuccessful. We have limited funds and must choose wisely how those funds are spent.” I’m sure if someone publicly mentioned GOD in a class or held a prayer on school property they’d be all over that. But the rights of tens of thousands being trampled is not a worthy cause for southern chapters of the A.C.L.U…..at least in Tennessee.

  • #52503 Reply
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    Jonathon Merritt

    Lets try to also learn from this Judges ruling that we can not blindly believe that only Liberal judges will rule in our favor.

    • #52538 Reply
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      Timothy

      Jon M.,
      Indeed Sir both Ds&Rs in both houses happily signed OMNIBUS94 and passed it on to W.J. Clinton. It has taken nearly three decades for the true underlying collateral intent(s) were recognized by the courts. Grady V North Carolina has gotten to the heart of the real threat to free men. Continuous electronic monitoring. Man’s perceived need for security aided by electronic means when in truth it is the database misuse itself that is the larger more imminent threat to liberty. Beware the database.

  • #52919 Reply
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    Donna

    The ACLU in Florida is also useless for SO’s. They did nothing to help registrants get the right to vote. I have come to believe that organization is not willing to take on any difficult task or one which will make them look sympathetic to unpopular and misunderstood people. We can only depend on ourselves and our loving families and friends to get us where we need to be. At times I think about and ask “why” is this happening and my answer is varied and complex but ultimately comes to a simple conclusion, we are chosen to FIGHT. Our efforts will never be forgotten because someday we will all be free from the Unconstitutional registry.

  • #53687 Reply
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    obvious answers

    Nice for him to say that but until he sits 90 days on one of those registry’s I doubt he will have a true clue how much of a second class citizen they are …

  • #58997 Reply
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    Chris Strong

    The registration laws do little to protect people from a “phantom”. In reality that is what RSO’s are, If you consider the recidivism statistics being less then 1% in most states, It becomes clear that the laws are more or less designed to pacify society’s fear of something that just doesn’t mandate such strict and debilitating regulations. The laws make it very hard for someone who has done their time to become a productive member of society. It becomes extremely hard to gain viable housing or good employment, meanwhile doing little to deter potential future first time offenders from committing a crime. That is where the attention needs to be focused, not on the ones who have already done time but the ones who are likely to commit such acts that would result in them doing time. Laws like the “Chemical Castration laws” do not deter potential risks. In fact I would say the most effective approach to nulling potential risks is to evaluate the mental health of such persons and develop a treatment. Most if not all RSO’s crimes result in a prior mental or psychological health issues that have never been addressed or dealt with. Things such as a traumatic childhood experience or family violence. Perhaps they themselves were the victim of a sex crime. but punishment is not the answer to a mental disease or disorder.
    Drawing the line in the sand, Chris.

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