The Oklahoman Editorial Board by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: April 10, 2018
LAST year, a federal court judge ruled that Colorado’s sex offender registry was unconstitutional because, basically, citizens might use it. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter wants that decision overturned, and is using arguments grounded in legal and practical reality.
Hunter, joined by officials from several states, has filed an amicus brief with the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals urging reversal of the decision handed down by District Court Judge Richard Matsch, who said the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act violates the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment and due-process rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
Colorado’s registration act poses a “serious threat of retaliation, violence, ostracism, shaming, and other unfair and irrational treatment from the public” for sex offenders, Matsch ruled.
While the case technically applies only to three convicted sex offenders in Colorado — David Millard, Eugene Knight and Arturo Vega — experts believe its repercussions could extend to other states. The attorney for the three men openly declares the goal is to get rid of online sex offender registries.
In his brief, Hunter notes decades of research shows sex offenders are at high risk of reoffending. Those convicted of molesting boys “exhibited a recidivism rate of 35 percent over 15 years, while convicted rapists exhibited a rate of 24 percent over the same time period.” Given that experts believe many sex offenses go unreported, those figures probably understate the severity of the problem. And there are numerous instances where children were kidnapped, raped and/or murdered by predators whose prior-conviction status wasn’t known to neighbors.
“That a school has taken efforts to exclude from campus Plaintiff Knight — convicted of attempting to sexually assault a toddler — does not constitute cruelty or caprice, but rather is eminently reasonable given the sensitive location and the extremely high recidivism rates of child molesters,” the brief states.
Hunter’s brief ably proves there is a valid public safety reason for citizens to know who among them is a rapist or child predator. And those who rape 10-year-old children don’t deserve sympathy simply because public awareness of their actions causes social discomfort.