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Canada: Sex-offender registry laws discriminate against mentally ill, court rules

[ – 4/4/19]


Parts of federal and Ontario laws requiring sex-offender registration where an accused is granted an absolute discharge after being found not criminally responsible discriminate against the mentally ill and are therefore unconstitutional, Ontario’s top court ruled Thursday.

While the court ordered information belonging to the man who brought the case to be deleted immediately from sex-offender registries, the justices also gave governments 12 months to fix the offending legislation, widely known in Ontario as Christopher’s Law.

“Persons found (not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder) stand in a dramatically different place than those convicted of a criminal offence,” the Appeal Court said. “(They) have done nothing wrong in the eyes of the criminal law, and cannot be punished by the state for what they did.”

Spokeswoman Celia Canon said the federal Justice Department was studying the ruling before deciding on next steps.

The challenge was brought by a man identified only as G, who was charged with sexually assaulting his wife while in a manic state. He was found not criminally responsible in June 2002. The Ontario Review Board granted him an absolute discharge a year later.

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  1. Bo

    So…. making people register that are guilty by reason of insanity is unconstitutional?

  2. USA

    Here is my view. Time will tell. Changes here in the US are being made. I’m 21-22 years registering for an expunged misdemeanor with summary probation. Yet, I’m still required to register, prohibited from certain careers, harassed if I travel, prohibited from visiting relatives in foreign countries and the list goes on and on. I can almost agree if your required to register for 5 years (general offenses) and 10 years for the most serious of serious offenses, but this is getting out of hand!

    • Will Allen

      Nope. No period of Registration is acceptable. It is idiotic and useless. Not just useless though, it’s counterproductive. Which is obviously dumb.

      But I do feel that people who are okay with Registries should be listed on one. I’m down with that.

    • mike r @USA

      For anyone that is prevented from visiting any family members outside the US this is what the AG in my case stated,
      “Strict scrutiny may be applicable in cases where international travel restrictions also
      implicate First Amendment concerns. Eunique, 302 F. 3d at 973; see Aptheker v. Secretary of
      State,378 U.S. 500, 501-02, 514 (1964) (statute prohibiting international travel by members of
      the Communist Party was unconstitutional as not “narrowly drawn”). Although Plaintiff
      generally alleges that restrictions on his travel prevent him from “associating” with family
      members, he does not allege that any of those family members reside outside the U.S. See
      Compl. at pp.29-39. Even if he did, this would not implicate the First Amendment, since all
      travel restrictions could then be challenged based on one’s right to “associate” with the people at
      any destination, thus swallowing the rule of rational basis review. In any event, Plaintiff is free to
      visit and associate with his family members under SORA and Megan’s Law.”

      Apparently, according to the AG, if you have family members outside the US and you are prevented or interfered in any way from visiting them strict scrutiny applies.

  3. ReadyToFight

    Problem is “Society” which includes All of US needs to be able to move on. That means we all need to know that an ex-offender has moved on and has no interest in reoffending.
    I believe 10 years is plenty of time to see a person grow and change. What I don’t understand is punishing someone FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.
    Our children, and everyone we love are punished too.

    • Facts should matter

      Agreed. After 10 years, it just becomes spite work and mean-spirited vengeance. It’s all about keeping the registries padded with innocuous people for the purpose of grants and show-boating.

      For society, Megan’s Law serves as “get even” revenge fantasy.

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