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Kat’s Blog: Will Vagueness Take Down the Registry?

It’s well known, nothing is clear cut when it comes to the registry.  The rules and regulations may vary slightly from state to state, but the vagueness with which these regulations were conceived and are enforced, is the same all over.

Take Halloween for instance.

In my neck of the woods, every year registrants were given letters by their P.O.’s or sent letters from the registry office outlining the do’s and don’ts of Halloween. Some years there were curfews and restrictions on outside Fall Decorations. There were warnings to keep outside lights off, don’t answer the door to trick or treaters, don’t wear any costumes.

This year, nothing.

None of the registrants I know were given any instructions on how to precede this Halloween. There were no flyers handed out, no letters in the mail. It was left up to registrants to somehow figure out if this year’s regulations had been increased, decreased or completely done away with. (The latter is not likely, but I’m always hopeful!)

Was the vagueness intentional?

Was it a trap, a set-up for unsuspecting registrants who were somehow supposed to guess at this year’s latest regulatory ridiculousness?

Our town had a little thing called Operation Blackout going on during the 10 days preceding the holiday. (The only way I even knew about this was by going to the state government website.) According to the Dept. of Corrections, they visited thousands of homes of “high-risk-sex offenders” in order to increase the safety of trick or treaters. Maybe it was only those at high-risk, of what I’m not certain, that got a head’s up as to what to do on Halloween. As for everyone else, you were on your own to figure it out and I bet claiming “nobody told me the rules” wouldn’t help you should you have ended up in court.

I think “vagueness” is what may ultimately do the registry in.  You really can’t have rules and regulations that are so vague that those who are in charge of enforcing them A) can’t explain them and B) admit that they don’t really understand them themselves.

A few examples of things the registry folks can’t explain:

Why registrants can’t use the boat launch at the marina. Yes, the marina has the same name as the park across the street from it, but it’s not “in” the park, it’s on the river. So, is the river off limits?

Why are registrants permitted to attend and even work at a “family fun recreational venue” in town, the sort of place that has indoor rock-climbing, an arcade, bowling, etc., even though it’s within 1000 ft of a church daycare center? (We checked twice with the registry folks on this one and both times it was a “yes”.)

How often is the town map of where registrants can live and work “updated”? Is it only updated when new day-cares spring up? How about when old ones close down? Do the boundary lines account for that?

Why is it that registrants can dine at a restaurant adjacent to a greenway but can’t work in that same restaurant because, it’s adjacent to a greenway?

You get my point, this whole registry situation, it’s all very vague, the rules aren’t clear even to those who are charged with enforcing them.

And it’s this vagueness, this uncertainness of the very rules upon which it is based that I think may bring about its downfall, especially now that registrants are coming out of the shadows, getting themselves lawyers and stepping up to reclaim not only their constitutional rights but their dignity as well.

No longer are registrants willing to abide by rules and regulations that are not clearly understood, recognized or stated.

Laws that are too vague to be understood have no place in our justice system.

Join the discussion

  1. norman

    As Voltaire once said “common sense is not so common”..

    Kat, you have more common sense in your pinkie finger than L.E.and associated Lawmakers have in their entire (dis)organization..

  2. Facts should matter

    The LEOs and lawmakers will never admit that all these sex laws are JUST to pacify and appease the female voting block segment. The “promoting public safety” nonsense they often tout is just a pathetic attempt to legitimize and protect all these easy security theater jobs.

    The real by-product and side-effect is keeping people dumb and afraid. America is run just like a Plantation and the mob.

    I really can’t dumb it down anymore than this.

    • Joe123

      Ahh, you sir have figured out America I see.

      “The real by-product and side-effect is keeping people dumb and afraid. America is run just like a Plantation and the mob.

      I really can’t dumb it down anymore than this”

  3. New Person

    The implementation of the laws for registrants are vague and inconsistent between states. Using the info from ACSOL of the 50 states and US protectorates, there are 27 states or protectorates who implement “presence restrictions” and 29 states or protectorates who implement “residency restrictions”.

    Here’s the kicker. If you’re from California, then both presence and residency restriction were ruled unconstitutional (with the exception of grade schools). How can one state have it constitutional and another state have it not constitutional?

    Oh… and I recently discovered that there’s a blanket ban on registrants for US military installations. There is a waiver you and fill out, but if you’re trying to apply for a job located inside a base from a third party employer (a Non-DOD company), then good luck with the waiver because you are already banned from going to the interview on the base. What is the point of vouching for a potential employee when the base already deems you “at-risk”? I had this happen to me and I had my case dismissed, but must continue to register.

    What does the registry have to do with military base blanket bans? The registry is supposed to “make registrants available”. Now, the registry is being used to ban US citizens who are supposed to have had their rights restored via case dismissal (Section 1203.4). Remember how the IML is saying the the US government isn’t banning people from travelling because it is the other country banning you from entering their lands? Welp, apparently, the US Government is banning registrants from travelling onto military bases despite taking our taxes.

    Is the registry a state or national policy? If state, then does that mean you don’t have to register in another state similar to if you move to another country? If it’s national, they why so many variants of implementation? Michigan just stated that in-person reporting was ruled unconstitutional. Here’s an article link and quote: https://www.aclumich.org/en/news/what-you-need-know-about-does-v-snyder-ii

    ***
    In August 2016, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that SORA’s 2006 and 2011 amend-ments – which created exclusion zones limiting where registrants can live and work, retroac-tively lengthened registration periods to life, and imposed many new and in-person reporting requirements – violate the U.S. Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause. See Does v. Snyder, 837 F.3d 696 (6th Cir. 2016) (Does I). The district court judge had previously decided in 2015 that the exclusion zones and certain other reporting requirements were unconstitutionally vague or violated the First Amendment, and also held that registrants can’t be prosecuted for inadvertent violations of SORA.

    Despite the decisions in Does I, the State of Michigan continues to subject almost 44,000 people to SORA. The Does II lawsuit seeks to enforce the Does I decision for all registrants. But the most important goal is to reform Michigan’s registry so that it is based not on myth and fear about registrants but on modern social science research.
    What are the Claims in Does II?
    ***

    So “in-person reporting” was ruled unconstitutional in Michigan, but it isn’t in several other states, including California. But before 2007, California did identify that “in-person reporting was criminal in nature”. How the new legislatures circumvented the law to make something criminal (and limits freedom of movement) into a simple statutory law? Simple. There was no scientific evidence. It was purely done on what “feels to be statutory” as opposed to being supported by facts and research.

    Anyhow, I’m really baffled that the registry is shared with the US Govt to do a blanket ban on registrants on military bases on US soil. This is prove the registry is being used as a “tool to ban registrants” instead of the intended purpose of a “tool to make registrants available.”

  4. Nondescript

    President Trump just signed Executive Order 13892 of October 9, 2019 called
    Promoting the Rule of Law Through Transparency and Fairness in Civil Administrative Enforcement and Adjudication. It is an interesting Order. It reminds me of the vagueness of the various laws and civil restrictions that registrants are subject to. In it, it states:

    [ No person should be subjected to a civil administrative enforcement action or adjudication absent prior public notice of both the enforcing agency’s jurisdiction over particular conduct and the legal standards applicable to that conduct. ]

    • New Person

      Here’s what I want to know, “Are convicts treated all the same?” I mean the equality of laws passed are two different sets. One for convicts and one for convicts for sex offenses. There will never be fairness until we’re treated equally like regular convicts.

      Hmmm… I wonder if anyone who has had their case dismissed would email the President about the unfairness of “the legal standards applicable to that conduct” when the standard to get your case dismissed is a far lower standard, but isn’t extended equally to registrants.

      • PAMELA

        My B felony, only criminal involvement ever (at 51 years old), has given every DUI, wife-beater wearing, no child support paying, meth head in Clark County, Washington a reason to feel better about his choices. Please, just treat me like him.

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