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IA: Supreme Court – registration for juvenile sex offenders is punishment

The boy’s lawyers argued that the fact that registration as a sex offender was mandatory constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The court’s majority opinion written by Chief Justice Mark Cady found that registration for juvenile sex offenders is punishment, but is not cruel and unusual. Article – towards the bottom


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  1. Richard

    I would think that if registration is considered punishment for a juvenile it would also be punishment for an adult offender as well age wouldn’t be the deciding factor.

    • Don’t tread on me

      Ahhhh the irony….. there will be a time in the future when they can no longer defend both positions without compromising one of them. I almost spit my beer through my nose when I read this (except it truly isn’t funny).

      “Oh what a terrible web we weave when at first we practice to deceive”

  2. Agamemnon

    If it truly is punishment, then it shouldn’t be applied retroactively.

  3. TS

    This case decision needs to get to Millard’s team to be included in this third and final (possibly) extension. Age is not a factor when it comes to a basic concept such as this. It started with adults and filtered down to minors, not vice versa. Therefore, as many people here have said and which I agree with, what is really the magic about a date where one turns 18 to be an adult and things don’t magically change within society, etc? The effects are still there, especially with WWW abound, regardless.

    • John Doe

      Change is coming, whether we like it or not. A lot of law schools are pushing for a change because it does not allow kids to be rehabilitated. If we want our community safer we must raise strong and empowered men and women.
      I would also challenge you on the notion that sexual abuse has somehow “trickled down” to young generations from older generations. That is completely false and inaccurate. As a psychology major in college, I learned the human brain is not fully developed until 25. These kids are not your Ted Bundy’s, stereotypical creeps, or predators. They are misinformed, curious, and often struggle with many things a kid does struggle with: impulse problems, understanding of consent, and repercussions of one’s actions. It must also be known that the riskiest age of a person in life is not 45, it is 13-14. Maybe you should do a little more research because the kid you throw on the registry today, WILL BE the homeless sex offender under the bridge tomorrow.
      The beauty of all of this is that we can change it. People need to let go of their pre-conceived stereotypes and address the real problem.

  4. AJ

    As I’ve said before, punishment is a yes/no proposition, and must precede any Cruel & Unusual process. Only after something is deemed punishment does the C&U analysis for juveniles enter the equation. This is a nice step ahead. Once again, it seems change has to occur in State Courts of Last Resort, and SCOTUS is left to play catch up.

  5. CR

    @TS, I don’t think there is much there to help in Millard, specifically. The opinion is carefully crafted so that age is a distinguishing factor.

    The opinion closely follows Smith v Doe in applying the Mendoza-Martinez factors, quoting from Smith and from McKune here and there, and accepting without questioning Smith’s “frightening and high” rates of recidivism as applied to adults, but says that it has been proven to be untrue for juveniles.

    It finds in the balance of factors that registration is punitive for juveniles based on distinctions such as “the demonstrated low juvenile recidivism rate”, claiming that juvenile sex offenders are statistically less prone than adult sex offenders to reoffend. (One of the dissents contests this.) It cites studies showing that juveniles have “diminished culpability” and “greater capacity for rehabilitation” compared to adult sex offenders.

    As one example, it cites Robert E. Shepherd Jr., Advocating for the Juvenile Sex Offender, Part 1, 21 Crim. Just. 53, 54 (2006) (“Adolescent sex offenders are far less predatory, are less likely to engage in serious or aggressive behaviors, are far more amenable to successful treatment, are more readily treated and supervised within the community, and have significantly lower recidivism rates.”).

    It refers to the “… mass dissemination of offender records that are historically kept confidential to promote the juvenile’s potential for rehabilitation” as a factor that makes registration punitive for juveniles, but not for adults.

    There is a lot more. I’ve only read through part of the opinion and barely skimmed the dissents. But at every opportunity, the opinion draws distinctions between juveniles and adults in terms of how registration affects the offender, and in terms of the offenders capacity for rehabilitation, and in terms of relative recidivism rates, all based on age, in order to exclude any of it from applying to adults.

    There are two different written dissents concurring in part, dissenting in part. One says “I do not agree that registration which is nonpunitive for adults becomes punitive when applied in a more lenient way to juveniles.”. That is what many of us have pointed out, but the judge who wrote that would not have found registration to be punitive for juveniles, either.

    Anyway, I suggest you take the time to read the opinion and the dissents. There may be something in there that can help the fight, but the majority opinion mostly agrees with Smith v Doe, only departing from it when making a case that juveniles are different from adults. Maybe more will come to light as I read through the opinion, but I’m not seeing it yet.

  6. David

    Hmmm….🤔 IA judge describes the registry as punishment. But Colorado judge says it’s not punishment:

    Let’s just default to this: IT IS PUNISHMENTS !!! 😡

  7. 290 air

    So if i commit a sex crime when I am 17 years, 364 days old, I would be less likely to re-offend than if I had committed the crime the next day on my 18th birthday?

    • CR

      Yes, that is how all of the age-based magical transformations work. Age of majority, age of consent, age of culpability, etc. On the last day before the magical day, you are a minor, incapable of consenting to contracts or sex, or even understanding the concept of consent (but only in those contexts), and you have diminished culpability for crimes by reason of age. The very next day you are magically an adult, fully grasping the concept of consent and able to grant or deny it, and you are fully culpable for criminal acts. Its a miracle.

    • David

      Obviously, 290 air! That’s a whole day!! 24 hours!! It’s entirely different in every possible way and, therefore, the punishment should be drastically different!! [Sarcasm intended] (Apparently, this all makes perfect sense ….. if you are a clown…or a lunatic …… or a lawmaker … or judge! 🙃)

    • AJ

      @290 air:
      They could always decide to try you as an adult. Apparently prosecutorial discretion can override one’s mental capacity and development. As usual, you’d be 100% subject to the whims of a political operative.

  8. AJ

    I just finished reading the IA document the court cited regarding juvenile recidivism. Surprise, surprise, it also talks about the myth of “stranger danger”, adult recidivism, the uselessness and ineffectiveness of registries, prosecutors seeking non-registering offenses against juveniles, etc. Funny how IA’s SC overlooked that info. The report is older, ending with 2012 data, but a fairly fast read. I’ve uploaded it here:; and the 2015 doc from the same agency is here:

    Some quotes from the 2015 report jumped out at me:
    –>”…it is noteworthy that baseline sexual reoffending is exceptionally low with or without supervision….”
    –>”Baseline sexual re-offending rates are low regardless of whether an individual is supervised via the
    special sentence or not, yet the special sentence is mandatory for anyone who is convicted of a sex
    offense. The cost of special sentence supervision heavily taxes correctional resources with little, if any,
    positive impact on public safety.”
    –>New Sex Offense recidivism was 1.2% over a 3-year period.
    –>”…very few revocations were actually due to sexual misconduct with a child (1.9%).”
    –>”…sex re-offense rates are generally and consistently low…”
    And yet, the legislatures can’t stop themselves from passing worthless, expensive laws against RCs.

    • mike r

      Yep, lets hope that is exactly how my case plays out as well. That residency issue is a problem. Check the post for sure where I posted my ????

  9. AO

    I just noticed that the two articles on this website sitting side-by-side are The Registry IS Punishment, and The Registry IS NOT Punishment. Hopefully we’ll get more IS’s along with great reports that AJ linked above showing how utterly useless and costly the registry is.

  10. Brian

    Ok. Punishment not punishment. Kennedy retiring. Do we have chance with a new Trump appointee?

    • AJ

      If the replacement is like Alito, we’re screwed. If more like Gorsuch, perhaps a fighting chance. Gorsuch at least has a healthy wariness of government and its oppressive activities and mission creep. Alito just is a creep, who loves anything giving the government power over the citizen.

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