Another nail in the coffin of sexual offense registries

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By Rory Fleming . . . On June 8, the American Law Institute, arguably the most prestigious non-governmental law reform organization in the country, concluded its national meeting.

One of its agenda items was to have its thousands of elected members—top federal appeals judges among them, who enjoy lifetime appointments after being confirmed by the United States Senate—vote on a draft of the revised chapter of the Model Penal Code for sex crimes. The Model Penal Code, first codified in 1962, helps guide legislation as well as interpretative decisions by courts.

ALI’s membership voted to approve the most recent draft, which included seismic proposed changes to state sex offender registries.

Perhaps most importantly, the approved draft states that these registries should be limited to law enforcement access for law enforcement purposes, as is the case in virtually every other country besides the US.

Currently, the identifies of people registered as having committed sex crimes can be searched on public online databases, along with a slew of other data including their home addresses. The rationale for this has been that it enables parents to make informed decisions about who their children can interact with. But it also means that exileextortion and vigilante violence are often perpetrated against people with such convictions, and even their family members.

Today, Supreme Court jurisprudence still holds that public registries of this kind are not “punishment,” though lower courts are growing more skeptical. . . .

Several traditional victims’ rights organizations and one major prosecutor organization, the National District Attorneys Association, previously pleaded with ALI membership to reject the draft of the revised chapter. The NDAA represents elected top local prosecutors nationwide. On June 4, these groups sent a letter questioning sentencing ranges for certain crimes, which crimes qualify a person for the registry, and other items.

What is actually surprising is what they left out.

The letter states that the suggestion that the registry be restricted to law enforcement access is problematic because there is “no exception for organizations conducting background checks for employment or volunteer positions which involve interaction with or care of children.”

This is a reasonable point of debate. The United Kingdom, for example, allows these types of organizations to inquire about its national registry on a need-to-know basis.

But the letter makes no following argument that registries should be public for all purposes for anyone who wants to know. This omission is essentially a tacit concession that there is no legitimate public safety argument to be made in favor of a public registry—that any marginal gains of parents being able to search online registries are outweighed by the well-documented harms of such public exposure.

Read the full piece here at Filter.

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9 Thoughts to “Another nail in the coffin of sexual offense registries”

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  1. Perry P.

    All I want to know is this: When, will this actually become Changed and Applicable FOR ALL THE STATES IN THE UNION? When will this actually become REAL? Will Lifetime Registry End? Will this actually get rid of Public Access for Everyone so that Vigilantes DON’T have the chance to come after and hurt or kill Us anymore? I want to know all of that!
    Nuff Said!

    1. TS Rohnevarg

      They way things normally work, likely somewhere more than 10 years but less than 20.

  2. mut

    too little too late. cant erase peoples memory or relive the years that were trashed. some were murdered, foreseeably. those responsible should be held acciuntable.

  3. Patriot

    In addition to this, I hope that one day they will get rid of that International Megan’s Law, specifically…that Scarlet Letter SO’s have stamped on their passports,

  4. q

    Prosecutors just want to keep up their vindictive cold war. “Get em this way, that way, and any way”. They want to wear people down year after year, changing the rules when they see fit.

    Oh, and as far as they’re concerned it doesn’t hurt none if they can get a house or car paid off…on tax payer dollars of course.

  5. mut

    the war on human trafficking must be over now that the 9th circuit says the imposition of involuntary servitude by published legislation does not violate a targets constitutional rights. 21-15165.

    1. Tim in WI

      The state’s do their own fair share of human trafficking as well. Sometimes it is cheaper in tax dollars to house a state’s convicted persons in another state’s facilities. Sometimes it is done for the security of the offender as was the case of Jacob Patterson, a Wisconsin citizen who murdered the parents of Jamie K….. and kidnapped her until she escaped. Patterson is housed in a New Mexico prison. Wisconsin state officials were avoiding a reoccurring of the Jeffery Dahlmer contract murder scenario. Dahlmer was in Wisconsin Department of Prisons administrative protective custody at the time he was assaulted and beaten to death with a hickory mop handle, in the shower area.

  6. Timd

    I have been reading everything I can get my hands on of the ALI. They are definitely for our side and getting rid of the registry. However from what I got out of their articles the U.S.Supreme Court seem to pick and choose whats in their own best interest, not the common wealth. If any of the MPC (MODEL PENAL CODE) catches their interest and serves to line up with their own beliefs then they accept the ALIs recommendation to change the MPC. If you read up on the ALI you can see that they would pretty much abolish the entire sex offender registration and only make it possible that for the most part ONLY 5 offences are registerable and ANYBODY on the registry would EVER be subject to public dissemination. Now we all know that the U.S. Supreme Court won’t have any part of this yet if you research back through the years they have used Ali’s MPC hundreds of times. Once again it was only if it benefited them, from what I read. After reading all that I did on the ALI and the Supreme court I copied the 3 page article that was publicly readable here in NARSOL. I then sent a copy to 3 Supreme court justices and 2 great defence lawyers here in Ohio. I guess it made me feel better just sending that article to the justices in hopes it would reach at least one of them. I wanted them to know that registered human beings were aware of that article. As for the lawyers, I wanted them to hopefully rethink that the possibility of change could happen and maybe use some of the ALIs new MPC and find it at least worth taking a look at for a new defence mechanism to use in their cases. It was a shot in the dark and I’m not finished send letters out. Oh yeah, I sent one to the ohio governor and one to the prosecutors office in Akron. I’m trying to do something to make me feel better in hopes it may help us registered people out from under these suffocating invisible walls. I CAN’T BREATH from the weight of the 9 justices standing on me. I’m sure you all feel the same as I do. Talk about mental torture, this is the worst.

  7. mut

    last time i looked those background-check companies charge money for data that has been forcibly extracted from us targeted individuals, which should be a crime under 18 usc 1589(b).

    RESTITUTION NOW!