By Sandy . . . The situation surrounding the revisions to the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code has become a “hot button” issue. Even though only recommendations, in some states they are highly regarded and could be considered by lawmakers in future sessions. The suggested revisions dealing with sexual crime would be a big step down from the onerous requirements currently in place. In particular they recommend abolishment of (1) public registration, (2) lifetime registration, (2) registration of juveniles, and (4) blanket restrictions, and they greatly reduce the number of crimes that would be eligible for registration.
It was these recommendations that 35 of our attorneys general protested against, writing and signing a letter that said, in essence, that if these policies were adopted, America’s children would be at great risk. Because of this kind of pushback, the full body of ALI, due to vote on finalizing the recommendations at their Jan. meeting, postponed the vote to their March 3 meeting.
Various sign-on letters are being written and circulated in support of the recommendations as they stand. NARSOL is assisting the effort with a letter to be signed by groups and organizations who serve those affected by the policies and laws, groups such as treatment providers, advocacy groups, and reentry groups. NARSOL affiliated and associated organizations have been invited to sign.
Now pushback is coming from a different angle. Some well-meaning and dedicated advocates are rejecting ALI’s recommendations because they allow for a few sexual crimes to be included in a registry and, even though it would be law enforcement only, they allow for the existence of a registry. Some advocates cannot reconcile these facts with their all-or-nothing stance.
NARSOL agrees that the registry should be entirely abolished. That is in our mission statement. That is in our vision statement. That is our end goal.
While NARSOL fully rejects and calls for an end to registries as an affront to human rights, dignity, and liberty, we cannot turn away from something that has at least some promise of mitigating some of the damage being done to so many lives. This registration monster and all that it has spawned did not unfold upon us full blown overnight, and it is highly unlikely that it is going to be dismantled in one fell swoop. Furthermore, there is currently no path by which this might be accomplished.
We see this as a war, and every battle that can be won should be; every chink that can be gouged into the armor of the registry should be. Many battles are fought and won before a war is ended. ALI’s recommendations, even if adopted in part and by only a handful of state legislatures, will bring us one step closer.
This is why NARSOL supports ALI’s recommendations for its revised Model Penal Code.
Groups and organizations who work to serve those affected by harsh laws and policies due to the sex offender registry are invited to sign our letter. Contact Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org. by Feb. 23.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.