Daily Archives: April 18, 2007

SCOTUS decision in James

SCOTUS handed down its opinion [pdf] in James v. US today. From Scotusblog:

In another 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that an individual convicted of attempted burglary under state law has committed a “violent felony” for purposes of a mandatory 15-year sentence under federal law dealing with armed criminals. The ruling came in James v. U.S. (05-9264). Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., wrote for the majority. The voted produced an unusual array: with Alito in the majority were Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Kennedy and David H. Souter.

Professor Berman is all over this decision and has lots of coverage on it. He has compiled it all here.

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Maine to review scores of sex offender bills

Maine legislators will begin to review several sex offender bills, including the constitutionality of residency restrictions, when session begins next week. Among the highlights:

  • New crime of loitering in a child safe zone
  • Tiered risk assessment
  • Constitutionality of residency restrictions

Glad to see that more legislatures are beginning to pick up on the fact that these measures don’t really do anything.

Update: While I’m on the subject, here’s another opinion piece coming out against residency restrictions (thanks to Ilah).

No research has evaluated the impact of residency restrictions on recidivism. An Arizona study found child molesters were more likely than rapists to live near schools. The Arizona study did not explore recidivism, however, or other factors affecting sex offenders’ housing choices. No link between residency restrictions and sexual recidivism has been established. Colorado and Minnesota studied this issue prior to enacting residency restriction laws. Researchers found that such laws were not a strategy for preventing sex crimes but found individualized restrictions may be appropriate.

No viable research examines the efficacy of residence restrictions. Research does identify unintended consequences. According to a Florida study involving sex offenders on probation, one quarter reported relocating because of the state’s law. Nearly half reported they could not reside with family. Fifty-seven percent reported less available affordable housing, leading to isolation and stress.

In conclusion he writes:

Residency restrictions disrupt offender stability and often isolate sex offenders from their support systems. While isolation from family is often initially appropriate for family safety, this should be based on risk assessments rather than all encompassing laws. Residency restrictions remove offenders from employment and public transportation, creating financial stress, a dynamic risk factor associated with reoffense. Stable employment and housing are essential for offenders to successfully transition into the community.

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The Adam Walsh Act

Corey Yung at Sex Crimes is posting up a storm about the Adam Walsh Act and I, for one, am grateful. I have little to no knowledge of this piece of legislation and its implications. So thank you, Mr. Yung.