The Council of the American Law Institute (ALI) has approved most of the model penal code (MPC) adopted by its members. The Council’s approval took place during its meeting held this week following a decision in January to delay consideration of the model penal code.
The most significant portions of the MPC include: (1) significant reduction in the number of offenses that require registration, (2) maximum registration period of 15 years, (3) elimination of all public registries and (4) prohibition against many collateral consequences.
“The American Law Institute is to be commended for its decision to approve most of the model penal code,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “They did so despite strong opposition from the U.S. Department of Justice as well as thirty-seven state attorneys general.”
Specifically, the ALI Council approved MPC limits the number of registerable offenses to a total of 11 offenses. The offenses include (1) sexual assault by aggravated physical force or restraint, (2) sexual assault by physical force, (3) sexual assault of an incapacitated person, (4) sexual assault of a vulnerable person, (5) aggravated offensive sexual contact, (6) sexual assault of some minors, (7) incestuous sexual assault of a minor, (8) exploitative sexual assault of a minor, (9) fondling some minors, (10) aggravated offensive sexual contact with a minor under 18 and actor is more than 5 years older and (11) sex trafficking.
Individuals convicted of a registerable offense would be required to register a maximum of 15 years which could be reduced to 10 years for some individuals. In order to qualify for the 10-year registration period, an individual must not re-offend as well as comply with parole, probation or supervised release conditions.
The ALI Council approved the elimination of public registries and would limit most disclosures of information on the registry to law enforcement. Registry information could be available upon application to adult victims and parents of minor victims, as well as qualified public and private organizations that work with minors, the elderly, the disabled and other vulnerable populations.
Included in the MPC approved by the ALI Council are prohibitions in most cases regarding residency restrictions, access to schools and access to the internet. These prohibitions can only be waived after an evidentiary showing that there are special circumstances in that case and only for a limited period of time.
In a sharply worded letter from the U.S. Department of Justice, the federal government stated it would “urge U.S. jurisdiction not to change their law to accord with it (the model penal code).” The two-page letter criticizes the ALI, in general, and the model penal code, in particular. According to that letter, provisions of the International Megan’s Law “could not function” if states adopt the model penal code.
“We must remember that ALI’s approval of the model penal code is the first of many steps leading to new registration laws in this nation,” stated Bellucci. “The next step will be to lobby state legislatures to adopt the model penal code”.