The Council of the American Law Institute (ALI) agreed on January 22 to recommend that its membership adopt new provisions in the Model Penal Code (MPC) that would significantly limit sexual offender registries. The draft approved by the Council includes new MPC provisions under which:
Many offenses now registrable would not require registration (e.g., possession of child pornography, but also less serious contact offenses).
There would be no public notification that individuals are on the registry, and no public website or other public access to the registry, which is limited to law enforcement personnel. The knowing or reckless disclosure of registry information to others is a crime. Most individuals on the registry who do not re-offend, and who comply with their supervised release conditions, would be removed after ten years. No one would remain on the registry for more than fifteen years unless they commit a new registrable offense. The registry would have no tiers, but many offenses currently placed in lower tiers would not be included on the registry at all.
General rules that required location monitoring of persons convicted of a sexual offense, or which imposed on them restrictions on residency, employment, access to schools or the internet, would be repealed. Judges could impose such restrictions in particular cases, but only on persons currently included on the registry, and only in special circumstances shown to apply to that particular case, and only for a limited period of time. In no case may a judge require public notification.
The original version of the Model Penal Code was published by the ALI in 1962. According to the Wikipedia more than half the states enacted criminal codes that borrowed heavily from the MPC, and even courts in non-adopting states have been influenced by its provisions. An important and influential contribution of the original 1962 MPC was its elimination from the criminal code of noncommercial sexual acts between consenting adults, such as sodomy, adultery and fornication.
The American Law Institute (ALI) is a research and advocacy group established in 1923 which publishes influential analyses in all areas of law. The Council of the ALI includes 7 members of the United States Courts of Appeal as well as Justices on the highest courts of California, Arizona, Texas, and New Jersey. The recommendations of the ALI Council become the official position of the Institute when adopted by the membership, which consists of leading attorneys, law professors, and judges who have been nominated and elected to membership. The MPC recommendations adopted by the Council in January will be considered by the membership at its meeting this May in Washington.