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General NewsNational

Supreme Court to review sex offender registration law [updated]

(Reuters) – The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether the government can require a former federal sex offender to register a change of address even after he had served his sentence and been unconditionally freed from custody.

In a brief order, the court agreed to hear the government’s appeal of a July 2012 decision overturning the conviction of Air Force veteran ____ ____ for violating the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006. Full Article

Update April 18

Timeline

Summary and Review – of Oral Argument April 17

Oral Argument Transcript – April 17

Join the discussion

  1. anon

    Wow! This could potentially be huge unless I’m misinterpreting things. Any gut feelings on how this will go with the current set of justices?

    • Sebastian

      There are 800,000 people that made a mistake currently registered in the U.S. Statistics show 1 in 8 of these crimes is reported. That means there are another 5 million unaccounted for. The registry mentality has done nothing practical except cause other issues that make society less safe. Recidivism is below 3% for this behavior. The key to not re-offending; thereby making society safer, is to become employed and live a sober, constructive life. Will most people listed on the registry find work, housing or any resemblance of stability? People either belong in jail or not. The lifetime jurisdiction over someone’s life seems routed in a misguided rationale of painting, with a large brush, a number of people (The size of Austin), and expecting them and society to co-exist successfully. This is nothing more than fear mongering under the guise of broadening the power of the federal government in other areas of citizens lives.

  2. td777

    anon, I’m wondering the same thing! Is it possible that this is the first major step in bringing lifetime registration requirements for low risk offenders to an end?

    “Congress, it said, was not entitled to assert ‘unending criminal authority’ over _______ because of his earlier criminal sexual activity.”

    If the court rules they are not entitled to continue that “unending criminal authority,” then it just stands to reason that it would extend beyond just the requirement to update registration, but to all aspects of the registration requirement beyond a reasonable amount of time.

    • anon

      I sure hope so. Once a person has completed his or her debt to society through prison and/or probation, there is no need to have them on a registry.

  3. anon2

    The reprecussions of this would be huge and a big win for common sense and the constitution if it does win. I’ll be pulling for this one for sure!

  4. C

    Oh, how I am hoping and praying this is decided in our favor. “Please Dear Lord, let not my vote for Obama and a more liberal SCOTUS have been in vain!”

  5. mike

    Don’t hold your breath, but let’s hope that SCOTUS at this point will recognize, acknowledge, and utter the words that registration is more than just a regulatory measure. It has in fact become punitive with all the new additions and restrictions that now coincide with the registry. If they do, I think it will open a lot of doors for reform.

    • Janice Bellucci

      You’re absolutely right! If SCOTUS was to reverse its 2003 decision, most of the registrants in California would be able to leave the registry. In the meantime, California RSOL is working with Sacramento again toward passage of a tiered registry bill that would allow most registrants to leave the registry after 10 or 20 years based upon current risk.

      • mike

        That’s great! I’m hoping that AB 625 can be resuscitated. It just makes sense. It’s a damned if you do/don’t expense. It will cost a lot up front to implement, but the savings down the road will be worth it. It would be more efficient for law enforcement doing compliance check sweeps and annual registration if they would remove the Non-threats to society. Hopefully they can come up with an efficient, practical, and accurate evaluation scheme.

      • td777

        Any chance of working something into that tiered registry that allow some of us to stop registering when we complete parole? I’ve got a wife and a 13 year old daughter I am unable to live with because I was told the local police would enforce the 2000 ft restrictions if I move in with them. While I was in jail, they moved very close to a school. Now that I’ve not only completed my short jail term and 3 years of parole without violations, I’m still forced to be transient and sleep in my van every night because 1) we cannot afford to move, and 2) we don’t want our daughter to have to deal with any hassle due to her address showing her dad to be a RSO(we’ve read too many stories online about kids getting hassled for their dad having to register). By the time ten years are up, she’ll be 19 and it won’t matter so much since she may be off to college by then.

        • steve

          td777,

          I to have three kids, one I just sent off to college. I live at home with them. It is my feeling if you stay away from your family you are letting “them” win. I understand the 2000ft requirement is an issue but if you can get past that you all should be together.

        • td777

          It’s also a matter of money, we currently could not afford the move. And I’m not staying away from my family, I am simply not living(spending the night) with them. I see them every day. Also, if my daughter is hassled for what I did, that’s not fair to her.

  6. Christi

    Yes, Janice what are the chances of getting registrants off the registry after parole and completion of some kind of rehabilitation program. My boyfriend was 14 when he committed and did 10 years in prison then another 3 on parole.

  7. USA

    Thank you for the comment Joe. I truly believe the tiered system in California will be passed. California is about the only state in the Nation to have lifetime registration for people even convicted of misdemeanors. Thats nuts. Thank you

    • Janice Bellucci

      California is 1 of only 4 states that has a lifetime registry for all registrants. The other states are Alabama, South Carolina and Florida.

      • J

        Those states in the South you listed are also infamous for crimes against African Americans. Is this the new platform to bring Jim Crow alive and kicking into the twenty first century? If so, it says tons about the apparent fallacy of California being progressive in that regard.

      • freedomwriter

        Actually Missouri does this also, even for misdemeanors.

  8. Bill (with a capital G)

    @Janice et.al:

    Why aren’t the various registration policies being confronted as animus laws?

    There is not one iota of evidence supporting the recidivist terrorist propaganda.
    Hate-crimes are not limited to the behavior of individuals, the prosecuting agencies commit such in the name of “The People”. but animus legislation is prohibited regardless of whatever social crusade-du-lour is momentarily popular.

  9. Macintosh

    The question before the Supreme Court isn’t about registry requirements in general. This case is about federal jurisdiction. In this case the defendant was required to register under federal regulations. However, the defendant moved without updating his registry info. The defendant makes the claim that the federal government can only regulate interstate interests. Because the defendant didn’t move out of state (making it an intrastate action) that the federal government didn’t have the right (jurisdiction) to make him update his info. The problem with the defendant’s theory is that the court won’t really let such a loophole exist. They will find a justification to force registration, because they will want to uphold the intent of the federal registry. This case only examines the narrow issue of the federal registry and a person changing address without moving out of state. Even if the defendant were to win it would mean little to most registered sex offenders, because the vast majority of sex offenders are on state registries (who share that info with the Feds) rather than only being on the federal registry.

    • Still sleeping in a van AFTER PAROLE!

      Yes, but I think this is similar to the issues that happened in Orange County with their parks and public beaches ban being struck down for superseding a state law, ie. I don’t believe a state law can supersede a federal law. That being said, it could potentially have a huge effect on whether existing state laws can legally be enforced.

    • Eric Knight

      It must be noted that there is NO federal registry. The law designates how registries should be set up in an attempt to standardize registries, but does not actually enforce a registry.

      Keep in mind that ___ can still be charged by Texas for not registering, and in fact probably would have if the feds hadn’t jumped into the fray in the first place.

  10. C

    In case you are following Doe v Harris, the case has finally been put on the calendar for April 3rd, 2013.

    http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/dockets.cfm?dist=0&doc_id=1975459&doc_no=S191948

  11. steven

    Sex offenders are people too! There’s no laws or registration for those who have murdered, dui’s, drug users or dealers, theft, or any other crimes. I don’t want to live next to some one who has like 4 or 5 dui’s and 1 count of manslaughter wail he was drunk. I have 5 kids of my own. I don’t want ANYTHING to happen to them. What a murderer gets out after 15 years and moves in next to you and starts a killing spree or sneaks into your home late at night and dose something horrible, you would be outraged that the police didn’t tell you about him. This is America!! We are not to be persecuted for things once we have paid for them. You do the crime you do the time! The end! Or make it fare for ALL criminals. Chronic dui is just as dangerous to our kids as a sex offender is. And yes sex offenders CAN be cure with treatment. The recidivism rate for sex offenders before treatment for a new sex crime is 22% the lost of all crimes, with treatment it drops to 17%. Facts are facts. Educate yourself, don’t listen to media, look at more than one source, and then challenge that source. I say clean slat after you serve your time or similar laws for ALL crimes!!! No matter how small. Think of how many crimes would stop if people knew their face would be on a flyer saying that they shoplifted or how much of a bad driver they are let alone are major crime. Just think about it.

    • J

      The utter irony of this situation if that someone that has actually killed any human being (of any age), is not subject to these rules upon release. If this is not true, please let me know.

    • freedomwriter

      The answer is not more lists. Pointing out how “others” don’t have to be on a list just encourages more of this insanity.

      The real America is long gone. Today’s America is about hate. We hate government, big corporations and even each other. Today’s America is about persecution. Persecute the non religious, the religious, the gays, the other races, the other classes, etc. We have more people in prison per capita than any other country in the world, BY FAR.

      We have been brainwashed to fight each other, instead of “the man.”

  12. Bluewall

    I actually found the transcripts very informative.. I hope more come in the future

  13. fish in a net

    I am not an authority on this stuff but this sentence sticks out…

    “Congress, it said, was not entitled to assert “unending criminal authority” over Kebodeaux because of his earlier criminal sexual activity.”

    I would think that if the court uses this language in any decision, the decision could then be sighted in efforts to claim the registry is punitive. Wording such as “unending criminal authority” used to describe the requirement to register seems like a very telling indicator of the legislative intent or at least the courts interpretation and enforcement of registry laws. Just putting my two cents in…

    • td777

      That’s that I noticed first as well…however, a tiered registry system gives an end. I’m more hoping this can be redefined to show they cannot have criminal authority once the sentence itself, prison and parole specifically, is completed.

  14. A FRIEND

    The justices were asking some excellent questions and points…if the
    legal theory is as you claim, then you will authorize for all criminals to
    register…no direct answer from attorney there…the inference is
    punitive to discriminated group as is because the legal theory is a
    sham…punitive…that attorney is not going back to pass a law for
    every criminal to register to protect the public….that right there
    was very telling………..The proposed plead guilty tiers…that’s the real
    criteria to tier 1 or 2 …..new alleged “sex” crimes will plead guilty
    guilty to charges in tier 1 or 2 to stay away from “civil” lifetime registry…
    pleading guilty to criminal or so called “CIVIL”………for some this “tier”
    stuff penalizes for exercised right to “fair trial”……..easily could be in
    tier 1 if accepted plea…….people categorized in “tier” is Deceptive.

  15. CX

    The link to the full article doesn’t work. Does anyone have a good link?

  16. sarah rodriguez

    I think it is interesting all this reform. But what I would like to see is clarification regarding family law. A mother can have her children taking away in CA if she lives with a Sex Offender. I know because I almost lost my children. And the offense was 13 years ago when he was 18 and too young to understand that pleading guilty to get a deal giving you 9 months in county opposed to going to trial with no evidence was a bad decision. It has been 13 years and he can not marry or see his daughter.

  17. freedomwriter

    I hope SCOTUS looks at how every other State Supreme Court t hear these cases recognizes these laws are in fact punitive. The fact that the lies of recidivism rates are no longer recognized by courts, but the real research numbers are.

    This is not about sex offenders. This is about society as a whole. When we allow our government to limit a group of people’s freedoms and liberties, retroactively, regardless of the reason,regardless of the class of people, all of society is in danger.

  18. A FRIEND

    @Mike : exactly …it is ex post facto …putting people in levels or
    risk numbers is ex post facto …california wake up…you’re breaking
    the law.

  19. omowale

    Tell me why we are not spending more time fighting for the homeless offenders.Many are on parole or probation for crimes that are not sex related and Jessica Law,AB113,and any other law that the politicians can get pass are only affecting those on parole or probation. If we allow those that run as tough on crime crusaders, continue to pass unfair laws, it will only be a matter of time before everyone who has ever made a wrong choice or decision will become affected. Just look at what is happening in some cities. They are already trying to pass laws that are more expansive and tougher than the laws that are already on the books. The problem they are having is due to most people in those cities are law abiding citizens. You might think this is different from what is being done to parolees and those on probation,but thinking that way may cost you your freedom.

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