Changes in Model Penal Code accepted by ALI Council

By Sandy . . . March 2 the Council of the American Law Institute approved the recommendations for changes to its Model Penal Code as pertains to the management of sexual crimes and the sex offender registry. The recommendations which were approved were modified from the committee’s final draft due to pressure from various entities.

The recommendations have been years in the making, and when the final draft was completed and released in late 2021, it created and polarized three distinct groups.

Many advocate and anti-registry groups, including NARSOL, as well as many individual advocates, supported the proposals as important steps toward the ultimate goal of abolishment of the registry.

The U.S. Dept. of Justice and a majority of our states’ attorneys general opposed the changes and wanted the MPC to remain the same, claiming that weakening the laws would put the nation’s children as risk.

Other anti-registry groups also opposed the recommendations on the grounds that they did not go far enough in abolishing the registry altogether.

ALI’s original recommendations centered around four areas:  limiting registerable offenses to the more dangerous ones, providing registry access to law enforcement only, modifying registration terms and abolishing lifetime registration and registration of minors, and abolishing blanket restrictions that curtail all registrants’ rights and freedoms.

The protests of those who oppose the changes altogether focused primarily on the first area, and it is there that changes were made. ALI originally proposed only five offenses be eligible for registration, and they modified it to include eleven. The issues as they were approved are given here and used with permission from the ACSOL website:

The offenses include (1) sexual assault by aggravated physical force or restraint, (2) sexual assault by physical force, (3) sexual assault of an incapacitated person, (4) sexual assault of a vulnerable person, (5) aggravated offensive sexual contact, (6) sexual assault of some minors, (7) incestuous sexual assault of a minor, (8) exploitative sexual assault of a minor, (9) fondling some minors, (10) aggravated offensive sexual contact with a minor under 18 and actor is more than 5 years older and (11) sex trafficking.

Individuals convicted of a registerable offense would be required to register a maximum of 15 years which could be reduced to 10 years for some individuals.  In order to qualify for the 10-year registration period, an individual must not re-offend as well as comply with parole, probation or supervised release conditions.

The ALI Council approved the elimination of public registries and would limit most disclosures of information on the registry to law enforcement.  Registry information could be available upon application to adult victims and parents of minor victims, as well as qualified public and private organizations that work with minors, the elderly, the disabled and other vulnerable populations.

Included in the MPC approved by the ALI Council are prohibitions in most cases regarding residency restrictions, access to schools and access to the internet.  These prohibitions can only be waived after an evidentiary showing that there are special circumstances in that case and only for a limited period of time.

Due to the changes from the committee’s original draft, it will go back to the membership at the meeting in May for their approval of the changes.

NARSOL still supports the recommendations. They are stepping stones toward the end goal. The next step will be for state legislatures to adopt them.

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39 Thoughts to “Changes in Model Penal Code accepted by ALI Council”

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  1. Victor Palma

    This sounds like incredibly good news to me!

  2. Carrie Wolfgang

    So, I don’t see Indecent Assault on that list.

  3. Donald

    Thank you ,Sandy and NARSOL for all the hard work and dedication you put into the fight for PFRs.Pray God blesses you all and helps us continue the fight.

  4. Paul

    This is the best compromise as it would help law enforcement better manage their time and also it would considerably shrink the registry. The end game would be abolishing the registry all together but the best game plan is to do this in steps.

  5. Paka M.

    As good as this appears on its face… What does this really mean? I’m not clear as to what weight this has regarding SORNA and whether states have to abide by any of this. I have to admit that I’m not well educated on this and have yet to do much in the way of research on this subject. Perhaps someone can chime in and provide me more insight on this. My fingers are crossed that this will help those of us that are lifetime registrants (well every registrant for that matter!) to be able to live a normal life in the near future!

    Mahalo!

  6. Ben

    In order to further understand, what is the scope of this? Is this at a specific state level, such as CA, or does this have the potential to change things nationally? I’m not sure I saw that defined in this post. Thanks.

    1. Sandy

      This is in response to Paka as well as Ben.

      ALI is the American Law Institute. It is a national organization, not state specific.

      Its recommendations are not law and carry no legal weight. However, it is a prestigious organization, and many state legislatures adopt their recommendations in part or in whole. But each state must act. This will still be a hard sell. The registry is tied to financial and political advantages to states, to law enforcement, and to many individuals and organizations.

  7. Emma

    Will the sex offender registry be abolished? Or, it will be available to Law enforcement? Happy to hear that there will not be lifetime on the registry and people can live to be Productive in life. Hope all the recommendations be adopted. This was a Punishment to people who have served their Time.

  8. Paul Murphy

    Almost to good to be true. Not just for people on the registry, but for the entire country.
    We really need to focus on the real problems destroying our country, rather than beating a dead horse hoping that some day it will magically work. Take all the man power and money you’ve been wasting on brutal punishment and redirect it toward gun violence and border wars
    (to name a couple).
    Thank you everyone for taking such a courageous step into the future.
    Let’s march together to make the world a better place.
    God bless you all.

  9. mut

    unfortunately i dont see any provision for a due process hearing in regard to the re-classification of past offenses which may well lead to further abuse, such as, the aggravation of a past offense upon the basis of disputed facts never charged or scrutinized by judge or jury with benefit of counsel for the accused. this is especially troubling given that challenges to decades old convictions are frequently time barred. in any event i doubt the courts will allow a ‘collateral consequence’ to provide a basis for challeging a prior conviction because that proves legislative interference with a judicial judgment that voids all similar convictions ipso facto. so, anyway, its lookin like the only ones who might receive due process under the new guidelines will be those convicted by judicial process after any adoption of said guidelines.

  10. jim

    While this is AWESOME hope. It will surely get appealed by the US Department of Injustice and the states Attorney General Bullies and so on. Been abused by the registry for more than 30 years now, 56 years old and angry. I do want to thank NARSOL for your continued battle for us for sure!

  11. mut

    unfortunately i dont see a provision for a due process hearing in regard to the re-classification of past offenes which may well lead to further abuses, such as, the aggravation of a past offense upon the basis of un-charged facts never scrutinized by a jury with benefit of counsel for the accused.

    1. mut

      in which case the foreseeable result will be ‘pains and penalties’ without judicial pricess.

  12. Mike

    Hello, great article, what I keep wondering about is why are they keeping the registry and laws up when there’s overwhelming evidence that proves that sex offenders have the second lowest recidivism rate among all crimes, low recidivism rate means not dangerous and not dangerous means not a danger to the public. The Doj and Sorna plus other Government agencies have done studies on recidivism rates and every one of those studies show recidivism rates are below 5% and all of those studies can be found on the government agencies website. Also the Freedom of Information Act have to allow you access to those studies. There’s a study on the Doj’s website, which the Gov. authorized which was done in 1994 and that study shows 9% recidivism rate and yet they passed & enacted the Sex Offender Registry a lil over one year later anyways. There are also about 9 other registries that have nothing to do with the SO reg., they range from animal abuse registry to repeat offender and that reg. is if any person commits any crime multiple times have to register, there’s also a pyromaniac registry. I never seen where we were given the chance to vote on any of those laws and there’s 7 other registries. my opinion is that there’s more going on about the registry because the Gov. has those studies and yet they don’t take them down. If this was in a court of law it would be thrown out because of ” lack of evidence ” and yet they keep the registry up plus
    they created 10 other studies and as far as I know the citizen’s were never told and given a chance to vote on
    any of them.

    1. scott kuehl

      The ultimate farce and outrage of sex-crime laws, including the public registry, is the punishment of adult women who have love affairs and mere trysts with biological men under age 16 or even 18. I’d be amazed if even one woman who was sentenced to months in jail or years (in some cases even decades) in prison has re-offended by having sex with another young man under statutory age. If so, their recidivism rate is ZERO. And I’m sure that none of them have re-offended by committing aggravated assaults, muggings, armed robberies, home invasions, murders, and other mala in se crimes.

      But they have to register for life as uniquely deviant and dangerous criminals -unlike myriads of low-IQ brutes and savages, predators and psychopaths, with histories of violence and criminality usually beginning at age 14 or 15 (or even 13 or 12 if pubescent) who’ve committed dozens and scores of violent and other mala in se crimes but have never been convicted of a sexual offense.

  13. Robert

    Good luck getting Iowa to go along with it. They’re over conservative. Too uptight.

  14. Anne Thompson

    Really it would be much better if it were accepted at the Federal level and overrode all the individual states.

    1. Lois

      It’s a step in the right direction. We should make use of this as we work towards further change. No, it doesn’t eliminate the registry. There is no silver bullet, but it’s good news.

    2. Ed C

      Anne, because the states are individual sovereigns under our constitution, the feds can’t override the states on this issue. Right now, the feds bribe states into SORNA compliance by withholding funding for law enforcement if they don’t comply. The best Congress could do is to implement the ALI recommendations and withhold funding to states that do not. Though I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

      As Sandy and Janice from ACSOL have pointed out, the legislative hard work is just beginning. However, the ALI recommendations can be a persuasive arrow in our quiver.

  15. Marty

    Your org is AWESOME. I am so glad that you all are helping to change, help abolish the registry. I will be donating again soon. Thank you all NARSOL support staff.

  16. Joel Pomerantz

    Appreciate everything being done by NARSOL. It gives all of us on the registry at least some hope. Are there any changes proposed towards possession of child pornography? I was convicted of possessing one video and received a lifetime punishment of registration. I committed the crime and have paid dearly for it. What happens if my wife and I need to go into assisted living? No one would accept me? Thank you!

  17. Tj

    Question is will the states be required the follow this or is it just the model. Bc mississippi isn’t letting anyone off the registry i guarantee it.

    1. Sandy

      The MS legislature will have to adopt it into law for it to be applicable there.

      1. Tj

        MS Just added more charges to life time registration. Unless the feds force states to follow the model Mississippi will continue to do as it pleases. The politicians, laws, and cops here are so crooked the convicts look like saints.

  18. aa

    I hope something changes soon. After 30 years of this I feel like a boat without a rudder floundering in the sea. As my older relatives pass away, I find I have fewer and fewer people in my life. Every single day of my life I regret my past and wish for peace in my, and my family’s lives.

  19. B

    Well, it would be great to not only have no online registry but because it would lessen people being harassed or worse , greatly lessening the restrictions and offenses list will give someone much more freedom, less fear and anxiety. I have run into some very aggressive people in my years on the registry, jobs that normally don’t do background checks are tipped off by coworkers who see your face online, and also, employers are tipped off by law enforcement that you are working there, then you loose your job. Hope this moves quickly and is accepted by legislators.

  20. Tony From Long Island

    Under these changes, what makes an offense “aggravated?”

    1. Oswaldo

      If you’re in Oklahoma, “aggravated ” includes “inappropriate touching,” even accidental. I can’t imagine any other state being any different.
      I don’t expect to see the online registry going away during my lifetime. It could be abolished on a national level tomorrow. Sine Oklahoma is 10 years (minimum) behind the rest of the country, well……

  21. allie

    i doubt that pennsylvania will ever agree to this.

  22. allie

    i don’t understand. If they’re trying to protect the children how exactly do they do that by having the children see one of their parents on the sex offender registry some day.

    1. Puddin Tame

      How bout this, everyone try doing the right thing in life and maybe we wouldn’t have so many problems. If everyone woke up today and said, today I’m gonna do what I know is morally correct and I’m not going to let anyone stop me, the world would leap and bound itself to Godly heights over night.
      Be a mirror.
      Word of the day.

  23. Ralph Cotter

    What a eff’d up world we live in.
    Everyone has to struggle with all their might to find happiness.
    What an expense. Sheesh. I mean, let me be the LAST! one to make excuses, for myself, or anyone else, anytime anywhere. Take responsibility. That’s half the battle.
    Be let’s get our priorities right and be more human. Grow together.
    Find salvation.
    Word of the day

  24. Tim in WI

    If it’s not Congress itself it means little as a practical matter. No registrant facing felony failure to register charges can point to ALIs proposed changes for defense purposes. It is lawyers who’ve convinced the people registration as a sexual oriented criminal is a non punitive and non retributive in nature. And a gov database isn’t specifically intended to impose affirmative restraint upon individual liberty.

  25. Larry T

    I didn’t see where any of the pornography charges were addressed, but maybe the receipt and possession is not considered a registerable offenses since it isn’t a contact crime. But the production is most likely covered under the sexual assault and contact causes.
    Just like SORNA is adopted by the individual states, these changes will also have to be adopted by each state. The changes that are being discussed are not going to occur overnight, and I imagine it could take up to a decade to see any appreciable changes.
    There are too many people who depend upon SORNA for job security and the federal subsidies that come with it to pay their subsistence.
    Sandy, you’ve said it and I have said it more times than I can count that if you want to really understand what this is all about, just follow the bouncing buck.
    The justice system is not about justice. It’s about money.
    Until this can be changed it’s going to be an uphill battle.
    What I believe has to happen is the education of the public has to be stepped up and throttle the propaganda that is being peddled by the politicos who depend on fear mongering to maintain their positions of power.
    They are playing on the basic fears of parents that their children are at risk and that they will protect them from the dreded boogy man. And when people are ignorant of the truth and facts they panic over just the thought that something could happen. I wish they would take as much interest in their children’s behavior as they do in this.
    But this is an uplifting bit of news that brings a little hope that some will be able to one day live more of a normal life.

  26. Mike

    Hello, the government have several studies on recidivism rates on sex offenders and those studies can be found on the government websites: Doj, Sorna, ect. All of there own studies show recidivism below 5%. Yet every crime besides murder-lowest, sex offence-second lowest, all these of the crimes recidivism is above murder an SO. Some of the other crimes reached as high as 75% recidivism, but they don’t have to register.
    Mike

  27. WC_TN

    The ALI approval is a great first step, but now the onus is to put the pressure on our state legislators to adopt the recommendations because one thing we can be sure of: The victim advocacy machine will be screaming in their ears and jumping up and down demanding they reject the whole thing and keep things as they are and continue to tighten down on our liberties.

  28. Michael

    This is a great first step. I’ll probably be done with my 25 year sentence, up in 2035, before we see any real change. Good for future people who will end up on the registry though.

  29. Christian

    Unfortunately the Justice Dept. Will likely win this battle. Can’t think of a law with regards to the registry that has been rescinded and not had another pop up to take it’s place,

  30. Emma Greer

    I’m in hope that the changes be made to prevent registrants from being homeless and jobless. Some can’t register Homeless due to City ordinances and they are rearrested due to not having a sufficient place to reside