Friday, May 23, 2014

NH - State's sex-offender registry overreaches

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article


The N.H. Supreme Court is pondering the fate of a man convicted, several decades ago, of sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter. The man has served out his prison sentence, undergone years of counseling and been deemed “rehabilitated” by the court. Now in his 60s, he is disabled.

None of which would be fodder for the state’s highest court, except that since he was released from prison in 1990, the state has repeatedly enacted laws calling for those convicted of sexual assault against children to register with the police, so a legal — and public — eye can be kept on them. And yes, such laws include those who were sentenced long before the new laws were enacted.

The man now before the Supreme Court seeking relief from these laws has been dubbed John Doe to protect his anonymity. It’s ironic that Mr. Doe can hide his identity from the public in court, because the reason he’s there is that he can’t hide it anywhere else. Thanks to these laws — both state and federal — John Doe and others must allow not only the police to know where they are, they must let everyone know, by keeping their current address in a database accessible to anyone online.

And in many cases, they must do so for life. There is no mechanism for getting off the list, and failure to keep the information updated carries harsh penalties in itself.

If all this seems over the line of reasonable punishment, in many cases we agree. However, the state has argued inclusion on this public online registry is not a punishment, but a regulatory matter.

We think that reasoning is absurd. Clearly, it is a punishment, tantamount to those on the list being forced to wear a large letter “P” pinned to their chests in public.

And while belling the cat may be a good idea for those whose crimes indicate they will continue to pose a threat, there are some crimes designated as sexual in nature that may not, such as public urination.

This is not to ignore the real danger posed by sick minds — the hardcore predators who will never be rehabilitated. Given the recidivism rates involved in sexual assault cases, especially those victimizing children, there’s a lot to be said for keeping the public informed of legitimate threats. There does need to be some way for the public to be informed.
- What recidivism rate?  You mean that sex offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates of any other ex-felon?

Hearing the arguments of the John Doe case earlier this month, the justices seemed taken aback by the logic of the laws. One argued a paraplegic on the registry who now poses no threat to anyone could himself become a victim of vigilantes who look up his address online. If that seems far-fetched, consider the case of Stephen Marshall, who in 2006 killed two men whose names and addresses he’d looked up on Maine’s sex-offender registry.

We, too, worry that inclusion on a public registry could make a target of people who have otherwise served their sentence for crimes committed. We hope the court’s review will result in a close look at the state’s sex-offender registry, including how long someone who has been deemed rehabilitated by the courts should be on it and whether the list of crimes for which one qualifies needs to be culled.
- It also puts the lives of family members (innocent people) in danger as well, not just the ex-offenders!


Jim Smith said...

They already notify countries when RSOs travel to other countries. They recently stepped up notification to Mexican authorities who take the RSO right off the plane upon arrival and put them back on the next flight back to US. The Philippines has the highest refusal to entry rate of RSOs too. Every time an RSO boards a flight out of the US or back into it, there name pops up on a watch list and the US government notifies foreign governments no mater the reason for travel or if perceived to be a real threat. It is solely based on being a RSO.

cartercarter5 said...

I hope the courts agree that the registry has become so overreaching that at some point it could be considered to be punitive in nature. In current law in Colorado there is a line in C.R.S. 16-22-103(5)(a) that states for juvenile offenders the court can exempt them from registration if it deems the requirement to register would be "unfairly punitive". In my opinion if it can be considered punitive for a juvenile to register then it would also lead that registration can and would be punitive for an adult required to register. Clearly, even the legislature knows that registration laws are punitive in nature or they would not have included this in the current law. If only I had the money to hire a lawyer.

Mark said...

"We, too, worry that inclusion on a public registry could make a target
of people who have otherwise served their sentence for crimes committed.
We hope the court’s review will result in a close look at the state’s
sex-offender registry, including how long someone who has been deemed
rehabilitated by the courts should be on it and whether the list of
crimes for which one qualifies needs to be culled." I do not like breaking the news to all who read this article, BUT - Mr. Doe, regardless if he is removed from the STATE registration, and in spite of the fact that New Hampshire may not have complied with the Adam Walsh Act, Mr. Doe HAS AN INDEPENDENT OBLIGATION TO REGISTER FEDERALLY - PERIOD. i.e.: US V GOULD, 538 F.3D 459 (CA4 2009)(other cases cited); AND US V WHITLOW, 714 F.3D 41 (CA1 2013)(other cases cited). The First Circuit encompasses the state of New Hampshire. In my opinion. the New Hampshire Supreme Court will have to order Mr. Doe's REMOVAL from the state registry. Then and only then will he not have to register federally as mandted by federal statuory law (see the two cited cases).

Mark said...

"Megan Kanka’s parents, Richard and Maureen, called the proposed law a “step in the right direction.”
The threat of a 1 step back pattern is utilized by the
state/federal government in its march to complete tyranny. Most Americans are simply unaware of this tactic. The government(s) announce some new, incredibly egregious legislation, and while everyone is scrambling to oppose it, they scale it back a bit to give the impression they (the governments), were intimidated by the opposition – with the net result being a smaller step forward
towards the desired totalitarianism. And to Jeff Smith: you are 100% correct in your statement. So why this piece of garbage law then??

Mark said...

It is also fascinating that the government uses Megan Kanka as a basis to enact this dark horse law! Over 20 years ago the tragic death of this child and they use this today to enact this law for sex offenders traveling abroad that has absolutely nothing to do with a crime in the state of New Jersey. And for that matter, how many sex offe3nder related murders have there been over seas by U.S. sex offenders anyway? Can anyone produce all the statistics for us???

Michael said...

Jim Smith: What you say may be true in some cases, but I have been traveling between the US and Europe frequently in the past four years without any problem, and I have a good friend on the registry who has been traveling between the US and both Asia and Europe for many years without any hassle (except at the Canadian border). Neither he nor I have had any indication that anyone had been notified that we were coming.

Tom said...

If only 5% of Sex Offenders re-offend, then why are nearly 100% required to register, with only a small percentage of them being tier 3. BOTH Tier 2 and Tier 3 are required to register for LIFE in NH. Most people fall under Tier 2.

The reasons? 1. Public ignorance and apathy, 2. Ambitious lying politicians like Kelly Ayotte, and 3.At $50 a year to register, it makes the state money beyond the $35,000 a year they get to put a person in prison. That is the main reason behind this punitive law. It makes money. If there was no money in Sex Offenses, they wouldn't even bother. More children are harmed by bathtubs than by sex offenders per year. Are we going to have bathtubs be on a public registry? It's as asinine as that. PERIOD.

Bill Barney said...

Where would Mr. Doe go to register federally? Would he take a plane to DC? When he got there where would he go?

Mark said...

He will go right back to the police where he resides.

Mark said...

Yes, this is very interesting and blessed. too bad the world does not see it this way - do they???

Bill Barney said...

The world does see it this way. It is not the perspective or ideology that has changed it is merely the circumstances. If each politician that voted for a sex law and each civilian involved in drafting sex ofender legislation were required to disclose on line there darkest sins then sex offender laws would not exist.

Bill Barney said...

I suppose that N.H. would be happy to register any one who wants to be on there public electronic stocks. Even if they are required by the state to register or not. And I am 100% sure that in the future the feds will declare all of those registered a risk to the public safety and lock up all registrants just like they did Japanese Americans in the 50s. That being a fact he and I are far better off not on the registry than on. It is harder to lock up some one when you do not know where they are than when you do.

Anonymous said...

The US is the only country in the world that has a Megan's Law. All other countries have, at most, police-accessible sex offender registries. (Although there are efforts in other countries, especially New Zealand, to grant the public sex offender registry access.) So now, they come up with some odd effort to get the other three hundred something countries in the world to adopt publicly searchable registries. Jesus. Since I'm not a sex offender myself and I've never set foot outside of the United States either, I really have no idea how many problems result when the US alerts other nations of traveling sex offenders. What I find wierdest of all, though, is that the US government is wanting to create travel problems for sex offenders. I would think that the government would want sex offenders to leave the country- not force them to stay.

Jim Smith said...

I travel internationally for work, though may need to find a new job given US actions. I was refused entry to Philippines when I went on a work project. I have been through Europe without any problems, so far, but I am constantly traveling in fear that this will happen again and I will lose work projects. The following doc gives a pretty good account of what the government is doing.

getting closer to the street said...

Are there any Japanese detainee's still alive to tell their story ? You said it's hard to lock up someone not on the registry -- But it's not hard to find and harm or even kill someome and their family on the registry --after time served . It was never mentioned that the N.H . State police ever found or tried to find the murderer or murderers of their state of those on the registry maybe for reasons of justice finely served in the land of live free or die . Time for John Walsh to face a court appearance and take a plea for his deadly registry in every state where a violent or deadly crime was committed from his creation, that would mean millions of dollars up front before release, than a $50. Annual Registration fee ! .

Bill Barney said...

roughly 27,000 Japanese were detained in 1944. All American citizens with protection under the bill of rights. The united states supreme court ruled that detainment in the interest of national security is constitutional. I have no idea if any are alive to day. 1944 to 2014 is 70 years so children who were detained with there parents would surely still be alive. The scary thing is that there is nothing to stop the feds from applying the Adam Walsh act as a federal mandate and then proceed to lock all of those that are level three or twos in F.E.M.A. camps.

For those who do not know the John Walsh act puts all of those who's crime involved a child under the age of 12, in person or on a photo, back on supervision for life. It also back dates the offense to 1957. It punishes children over the age of 12 with the same requirements as adults and puts them on lifetime supervision. The addresses of these children and the type of cars the parents drive are also published. It also opens the registrant to search and seizure with out a warrant. It also removes spousal immunity. It also gives the supervising agent the power to impose restriction with a court order. It is just like being on probation or parole. GOD help us all.

Doug said...

Does anyone know if this is truly based on being Registered? Having recently finished my time on the registry, I'm curious if notification would still occur if I have to travel for work or pleasure.

Redeemed1 said...

This is something that I have seen a few different people (including myself) ask in different arenas, and no one seems to have a definite answer. I will be off in less than a year and would love to take a trip (or even a move) to Europe in the future.

Tom said...

So true! So true! Considering politicians themselves get away with Sex Offenses, Murder, Embezzlement, Theft, and lying. If they were held to the same standard as the rest of us, they wouldn't be able to write these ridiculous laws that help no one and only exist to financially benefit the corrupt oligarchy we live under in this country.

Tom said...

NH is the greedy, corrupt state I live in. If there's one thing that is certain about them, it is their unflinching greed. Since the public is ignorant because of the corporate media creating boogey-men out of Sex Offenders, we will always have these laws. It makes the state tens of millions in tax revenue every year to continue these ridiculous policies that help no one. Why would they stop such a profitable business based on lies?

Mike said...

I would have to agree with Mark as the Missouri Courts held that their respective state law violated Article 1, Section 13 of the Missouri Constitution as to retrospective laws. The Missouri Appeals Court overruled and required that under Federal SORNA (Adam Walsh Act) the sex offenders had an independent obligation to register under federal law and that SORNA fell under the Supremacy Clause. See, Doe v. Keathley Missouri Court of Appeals January 6, 2009.