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OK: Sex offender registry laws grounded in reality, not cruelty [opinion]

[newsok.com 4/10/18]

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.

Read the entire opinion

 

Join the discussion

  1. Facts should matter

    “Officials have long concluded that registries, which simply disseminate *already public information about sex offenders*, are a cost-effective way to minimize public risk.”

    Oh, that’s cute.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s already “public information.” That’s a misguided and misdirected argument because they’re using a conviction record exclusively for fear mongering. It’s a misuse of information by intentionally misinforming the populace and commonwealth into believing all they have to do is download a boogeyman app and search out those scary-looking red map pins.

    They’re not giving the citizenry an informed decision with this info, they’re giving them a forced and biased perspective. It doesn’t matter if the registrant’s info is current, complete or accurate because the unsuspecting public is unwittingly being duped into believing Megan’s Law is the first line of defense for the community to protect their children – it’s not.

    • Michael

      RSOs and others against the registries need to be unrelentingly pushing the facts. When 68% of kids are abused by an immediate family member vs. 10% by a stranger, it’s clear that the reason for the registries has nothing to do with public safety. If people like Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter really wanted to protect kids, he’d be advocating for the sterilization of newborns to prevent future reproduction and any possibility of abuse.

      ….

      • Tim Moore

        They have a strong argument against that in a facial sort of way. They will just say 10% is still a large number and those are the ones (having criminal convictions) they can legally legislate against, so if they can save 10% of the children legally, why would they not take that route. I am sure if they could think of a way to justify putting those not yet having a conviction on a registry, they would.
        But if registries themselves are ineffective, then children, 10% or whatever, are not being protected and the argument fails.

  2. Tim Lawver

    Gee let’s overlay the modus operandi of one man onto another man’s reputation. Logical enough?

  3. mike r

    If someone can post the real facts that I have posted that related directly to the author assertions. Thanks as I do not facebook and never will use their platform

  4. Mike

    HI,

    I just mailed the comments from solicitor general from the 6th circuit last year, to all Attorney Generals in all states that the 10th circuit covers. I and also emailed them a copy… SO hey I hope this does not get overturned …….

    • Facts should matter

      If it does, it will set us back at least 10 years.

    • CR

      Please don’t do stuff like that. It won’t do any good, and it may hurt us. Many of their arguments are weak. It may feel good to expose their arguments as such, but you have zero chance of changing their minds. All you are doing is giving them information they can use to improve their arguments. That will make it harder to win against them. We want them to hang their hat on arguments we can disprove in court.

      If you want to help a case, send information to the lawyers for the RSOs.

      • David Kennerly, The Government-Driven Life

        “All you are doing is giving them information they can use to improve their arguments. That will make it harder to win against them. We want them to hang their hat on arguments we can disprove in court.”

        CR’s point is an excellent one with respect to many different situations. We must always keep in mind that our insights can also be used against us when, by sharing them with the enemy, they can be used to craft a more resilient system of oppression. We should always ask ourselves what it is that is likely to be achieved by sharing inside information and we should never ascribe honorable motives and good faith to those who possess none. If we are to do combat in what is overwhelmingly a legal arena then we must think strategically like generals or lawyers.

      • Michael

        So, they couldn’t read them here or in similar places? Perhaps attend a conference?

        ….

      • CR

        They could, but it costs them resources (budget for people hours to comb web sites and attend conferences) vs having it handed to them.

        The US SG’s response to SCOTUS on Snyder v Does has been widely discussed, not just here, but in mainstream media, yet the state AGs were apparently ignorant of it, or in a display of their usual arrogance, they didn’t care.

        The specifics here are not the point. The point is, don’t communicate with the state’s lawyers (the AGs, their deputies, or the outside attorneys they contract with). They are charged with defending their laws when challenged. You won’t change their position, but you might help them strengthen their arguments or improve their strategies.

        A better way to help fight these unconstitutional and unnecessary laws, the fear mongering, the ignorance of the public, and the pandering to the electorate, is to write reasoned responses to articles in the media that promulgate lies about the registry, registered citizens, recidivism, and so on. Write to legislators. Most of them are as ignorant of the facts as the general public. Some of them might actually listen.

  5. T

    That Oklahoma Rep must have lost his mind in bringing all misconceptions, and distorting information about the “frightening high” to try to manipulate and convince the Colorado judge, hopefully the judge does not give in to all the distortions.

    • CR

      As I mentioned in response to another one of your comments, appeals don’t go back to the judge that made the original ruling. Appeals go to a higher court. Judge Matsch is a federal judge, so if a party wants to contest his ruling, it must appeal to the next higher court, which in this case, is the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

      Judge Matsch is out of the picture now. Even if he changed his mind about his previous ruling (doubtful), it would make no difference. It’s in the 10th’s court now.

  6. Don’t tread on me

    Let’s see….by that same logic all of congress and state legislators must be just like Anthony Weiner. Lock em up!

  7. Michael

    Just an FYI for anyone interested. Judge Richard Matsch was the judge on the Timothy McVeigh trial. He is well respected and he’s known as a conservative Republican who’s rulings “reveal a libertarian attitude.”

    ….

    • @Michael

      …and Judge Matsch is no longer in the actionable picture for the Millard case.

      Here’s the link for the current members of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals who will have the say on this appeal by the Colorado Attorney General:

      https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/judges

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