Second Circuit: Private company home visits constitutional for registrants

By Amanda Ottaway . . . A Long Island sex offender who faced home visits from a private nonprofit contracted by his county did not endure an unconstitutional search, the Second Circuit affirmed Wednesday.

Writing for a three-judge panel, U.S. Circuit Judge Christopher Droney noted in the ruling that in this case, public-safety interests outweigh the offenders’ rights.

“In sum, the program advances the government’s substantial interest in reducing sex offender recidivism by improving the accuracy of the registry,” the 29-page opinion states. “Thus, the program serves a special need ‘beyond the normal need for law enforcement.’”

A man who served four years in prison on a 1992 rape and sodomy conviction brought the underlying lawsuit under the pseudonym John Jones. Because of his status as a level-one offender — a designation for those deemed to pose a moderate risk of reoffending — Jones faced a 20-year requirement to register annually with the state, visit his local police precinct to get photographed every three years, and tell authorities if he moves.

Because Jones lives in Suffolk County, however, he has also faced additional requirements since 2013 under the Community Protection Act, a local law that established a three-year contract with the nonprofit Parents of Megan’s Law to track and monitor registered sex offenders pursuant to a contract with police.

The group reported a 99% response rate from registrants at the end of the first year and found 13% of home addresses on the registry conflicted with the person’s actual address.

Jones sued after receiving two home visits from the field representatives, saying the threat of embarrassment from such visits made him stop going to his children’s school and athletic activities.

The Fourth Amendment only prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but a federal judge ruled against Jones’ case at summary judgment. Affirming that result Wednesday, the Obama-appointed Droney found the visits constitutional under the special needs doctrine.

Read the full piece here at Courthouse News Service.

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Tim in WI 2 days, 19 hours ago.

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  • #59588 Reply
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    admin

    By Amanda Ottaway . . . A Long Island sex offender who faced home visits from a private nonprofit contracted by his county did not endure an unconstit
    [See the full post at: Second Circuit: Private company home visits constitutional for registrants]

  • #59630 Reply
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    Dan B

    This is the kind of decision that makes me depressed about the judicial system and biased judges who are just normal people that find ways to support their preexisting point of view (which is a widely-recognized human phenomenon in psychology circles). Research study after study after study after study have all concluded that registries are at best useless. Common sense dictates that THERE CAN’T POSSIBLY BE A “SPECIAL NEED” to help in “reducing sex offender recidivism.” There should never be another one of these cases ever decided in any way favoring enforcement of these laws. Ever. Not because they negatively affect me but because the basic premise of them has been proven irrefutably to be completely invalid.

  • #59656 Reply
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    Tony From Long Island

    A few things . . . In New York, a level one designation is not moderate risk – it is LOW risk. . . . second, as a Level one offender, this guy would not have his info on the state online registry page – HOWEVER, Parents For Megan’s law (the group at issue in this case) routinely publishes information about level one offenders on their page claiming public information.

    Second – the judge here claiming that this program is valid because of ” . . . . .government’s substantial interest in reducing sex offender recidivism by improving the accuracy of the registry . . . . ” is disingenuous. We have spoken ad nasuea on here about the “frightening and high” nonsense repeatedly quoted in court decisions.

    Additionally, this “program” is nothing but theft of tax money to pad the pockets of Laura Ahearn. What they do is something that was already done by police. They are a quasi-police force. So the accuracy of the registry was already being done by police when suffolk paid Laura Ahearn to pay retired cops (who already get their sweet pension) to verify residence.

    That being said, when they come to my house, they are nothing but professional, polite and discreet. They ask for your ID and sometimes a pay stub (to prove your employment is accurately registered) then leave. Takes one minute. They come at most twice a year. I make sure I tell them that what they do is a bunch of crap and then show them my ID and they leave.

    Don’t construe anything I say as defending them, Laura Ahearn is a pure zealot and her organization is stealing money but Ive never had any specific problems with them.

    • #59927 Reply
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      Tim in WI

      Tony in LI,
      Here a database, there a database, everywhere a database, and who can say what can be kept or said on any of one about anyone? None!

      A well organized group would be free to approach the homes of those people too! A group to watch the watchers made of registered persons. Believe me when I tell you if registrants begin ” showing up” in certain residential areas these cowards would fold like paper tigers. Turn about is fair play.

      Just look at the 20K ex post registrants in MI who are still not protesting GIVEN a fed judge has ruled in their favor 3 years ago + a recent mandamus!
      Chickin shits.

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