This is a great time of year. The legislature is in session and new bills are being proposed. Via the OLR, I see that one such curious bill is Senate Bill 708 – An Act Creating A Violent Offender Registry. Yes, this bill proposes a registry akin to the sex offender registry for violent offendes. The offenses are:
- murder (including felony murder and arson murder),
- first-degree manslaughter,
- 1st-degree manslaughter with a firearm,
- 1stâ€“degree kidnapping of a minor,
- 1stâ€“degree assault, or
- conspiracy or criminal intent to commit any of the above crimes.
First time offenders are required to register for 10 years and second offenders for life. Failure to register is a Class D felony.
Are residency restrictions for violent offenders far away? Will we have an ever growing class of citizens who will be forced to live in seclusion? Shades of Escape from L.A.
Seriously, what does this achieve. Look at the list of offenses. Murder – minimum sentence of 25 years. Most murders aren’t random crimes. What will you do? Cross the street when you see someone who was convicted of murder? 1st degree assault? Do people seriously believe that assault convictees walk around randomly assaulting people?
Between this and the sex offender registry, it leaves only the larcenies and related offenses and the drug crimes. I’d rather have a community notified of someone who was convicted of a robbery or burglary. The store owner has as much a right to know that a person convicted of hold-ups lives in the neighborhood.
Also, isn’t the central argument behind sex offender registries and residency restrictions that that class of people cannot be rehabilitated? Registry proponents frequently cite statistics that recidivism rates are the highest for that class of offenders. Is the tune changing? Are they all equally likely to re-offend? You can’t have it both ways.
Maybe the way to end this is to make records of all convictions (which are public information anyway) available on a website. I don’t know.
At some point, SCOTUS will have to address the Constitutionality of these registries and residency restrictions. We are heading toward a very fractured society.