Violent offender registry proposed – the branding continues

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:

  1. murder (including felony murder and arson murder),
  2. first-degree manslaughter,
  3. 1st-degree manslaughter with a firearm,
  4. 1st–degree kidnapping of a minor,
  5. 1st–degree assault, or
  6. 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.

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8 thoughts on “Violent offender registry proposed – the branding continues

  1. Gideon Post author

    Oh, yeah, I was going to mention that in the post, but I forgot. Between this and sex offenders, I think about half of all offenses in the state are covered (or will be) via registries.

    I’ll add some thoughts to the post.

    Reply
  2. Steve Smith

    I suppose it was inevitable and this proposed law law bears watching because eager beaver legislators in other jurisdictions will no doubt import it. Unlike many of my friends, I am not opposed in principle to such registries but despise the ham-handed way in which they are inevitably imposed.

    Reply
  3. Gideon Post author

    The registries, standing alone, maybe not be problematic. After all, these are public records and anyone can access them at the courthouse. (I’m not going to concede that I’m okay with them).The residency restrictions, on the other hand, are surely punitive in nature and that I do have a lot of problems with.

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  4. Pingback: How should the defense bar handle offender registry legislation? - apublicdefender.com - haven’t you paid enough for your crimes already?

  5. Steve Smith

    Sorry, been bouncing my way around Central Asia on my way back home. The internet connections are terrible and don’t allow for a lot of browsing.

    I agree that residency restrictions are unwise and would advocate strongly against them. It may be that the Adam Walsh’s Act’s RELATIVELY sane registry requirements may be the answer to preempting ever crazier state and local restrictions. The defense bar will reflexivly and rightly challenge the constitutionality of the AWA on Commerce Clause grounds but we need to consider that that leaves us with 18 year olds engaged in consensual sex having to register for life, 2500 foot banishment zones and the like.

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  6. George

    That court records are already public records is misleading. There has long been a difference between individual court records and “complied” records, which is what the registries are. See U.S. DEPT. OF JUSTICE v. REPORTERS COMMITTEE, 489 U.S. 749 (1989).

    “Finally: The privacy interest in maintaining the practical obscurity of rap-sheet information will always be high. When the subject of such a rap sheet is a private citizen and when the information is in the Government’s control as a compilation, rather than as a record of “what the Government is up to,” the privacy interest protected by Exemption 7(C) is in fact at its apex while the FOIA-based public interest in disclosure is at its nadir.”

    That there is a “public interest” in the registries is one argument. That that public interest is vastly exaggerated by alarmists statistics is another. So what is the actual public interest in relation to an individual’s privacy? Shouldn’t the public interest be weighed in each case depending on the risk of each individual?

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