AK Supreme Court sides with sex offenders - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, December 7, 2019
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AK Supreme Court sides with sex offenders

STATE’S SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY LAW UNCONSTITUTIONAL

The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Alaska’s sex offender registry law violates the constitutional right of due process for at least some offenders.

The case originated when a “John Doe” moved to Alaska from Virginia in 2003, where he was a registered sex offender for a crime committed in 2000. He was notified by law enforcement that he would need to register in Alaska, and he did so for a couple of years, and then stopped registering. He was arrested for failing to register and fought it in court.

Mr. Doe said that because his crime was committed in another state, Alaska doesn’t have jurisdiction to enact punitive legal actions against him, and that the sex offender registry is a punitive law.

The Supreme Court voted 3-2 that the Alaska Sex Offender Registry Act is too broad, and also that sex offenders must be given the opportunity to demonstrate that they are not dangerous.

The 49-page opinion can be found here:

Alaska Supreme Court sex offender decision

 

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Bullsh*t. This is a predatory crime. I want to know when a registered predator moves into my State and into my neighborhood. If you don’t want punitive laws, then don’t do crimes. Give the opportunity to show they aren’t dangerous? At what expense? Diddling your kids? Raping your mother? You are given the opportunity every day to show you aren’t dangerous – with your name on a list while we are watching your *ss.

    • And you air need to mind your own business and get a life. What to keep kids safe? Then WATCH YOUR KIDS!!!! The fact that murderers aren’t treated that way shows the laws are biased and so nothing to stop sexual crimes. Even the government came out and said over 95% of new sexual crimes are by people NOT on the registry! Common sense says a molester is not going to molest a kid in their own neighborhood anyway, and would go across town, which the registry is then useless since no one would possibly be able to identify him/her in big town. What we need are real laws to prevent crimes, not “feel good” laws that so nothing. I cant believe I have to type something so obviously simple to understand……

      • You don’t have to type it then , Ralph…..Your entire response is incredibly useless and open to so much backlash, I am going to leave it to the others on the forum to pick apart. I don’t even know where to start….

        • Um…no you cant.

          https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2019/06/06/sexoffenses/

          Even the government says most sex offenders are not convicted of another sexual crime and have low recidivism rates. All you have to do is read and stop being a lemming. It would make more sense to get these people mental help and also allow them to admit they have their problem BEFORE they break the law. As I said before, most states dont even treat murderers that way. I’ve personally had to deal with a murderer getting out less than 20 years killing my father and he isnt under any type of registry. My older sister was molested later on and now is a happy mother of three, and she has her master’s degree. She went on with her life and doesnt have the “I’m a victim for life” mentality. These people deserve to be punished, but you dont keep making up laws and make them follow them regardless when they were convicted. It’s like making a new law and making you pay a 200 dollar fine for a speeding incident 20 years ago you already paid. Clearly unconstitutional. The fact they’re sex offenders is besides the point.

      • Sounds like you know a lot about sexual molestation.

        • Unfortunately yes. It was a shock when it happened to my sister. Granted, it wasnt a violent rape, but molestation is molestation and the person should be punished. My belief is give a greater sentence, not let people out only to prevent them from succeeding post confinement.

      • When a person has paid their debt to society, through a prison term and a probation order, then that person has paid their debt to society and should not be punished eternally for a violation of the law.
        Not even murderers have too be on a list

      • very much agreed.

    • Oh my, what did you ever do to feel safe before the public registry?!?

      • Are you aware that 95% of new offenders are not on the list. So everyday a new name is added to the registry. Then you can take pleasure in making other people’s lives harder, after they have either made poor choices or spent years in prison and more years on probation

    • Garner,
      Are you aware that there are over 920,000 people now on the registry in the United States? Are you aware that many people are on there for reasons that are not predatory? Are you aware that there are children as young as eight years old on the registry? Why should you be concerned? These laws are punishment in nature and as legislators get applauded for overreaching and enacting “punishment” they will continue to overreach until you or someone you know and love is affected. Trust me–we were the quintessential “family next door” until it happened to us. I would not wish this treatment on anyone.

      • are you aware some people have families, kids, friends? no obviously not. not even murders are treated like this so why are offenders. it’s not fair. your basically taking their whole life away for one mistake. one freaking mistake which they already paid their price to. so why take the rest of their life’s away like i said if they do this to offenders then they should do it to murderers to.

    • yea but think about this what if these people have kids do you not realize how unfair this is. i don’t care what you done being separated from your kids is so wrong and if you have a problem too bad you obviously don’t know what’s it’s like especially if you got blamed for it. So until you know what it’s like to be in their shoes don’t say sh*t.

  • I like Alabama’s new law where they chemically castrate the bastards.

    • Actually, the ruling isn’t as cut and dried as the headline indicates. This only affects sex offenders who move in from other states, and are assigned levels according to similar laws in Alaska. In addition, all the Alaska legislature has to do is to codify the procedure and it will essentially render the ruling moot.

      However, this ensures that the state cannot just willy-nilly assign a sex offender level or time period to register unless there are certain tenets met, such as actual danger to the community based upon quantifiable metrics, such as specific statutes and citations justifying those statutes. But for the time being, everyone on the registry WILL remain on the register, and most will remain at their current levels. Relax, everyone.

      • That’s how I read it to, and unlike most here, obviously, I did read it; it is consistent with the Courts rulings on due process and privacy issues over at least the last 30 years that I’ve been paying attention.

        I don’t necessarily like some of it because the Court has long arrogated to itself the power to substitute its judgment for that of the Executive or Legislative Branch without taking the John Marshall step of just declaring a law unconstitutional. They use a lot of fancy words like rejecting implicit repeal and finding that rejecting a law would cause greater harm, their refuge in this one, but what they really are saying is that you people elected by The People can do stuff, but we gods in black robes reserve the right to tell you if you got it right.

        People need to understand that the Alaska Constitution is a product of liberal think tanks, New Deal Democrats, and the “McCarthy Era;” it has an explicit right to privacy, though that’s more a product of Alaska’s hippie era, and it has a very explicit guarantee of due process even in administrative and legislative processes; that gets to the regulatory powers discussed in this decision. What you think you know about either privacy or process from studying the Federal Constitution doesn’t necessarily pertain to the Alaska Constitution.

        That said, if the Legislature doesn’t like this decision, and it shouldn’t, it can pass new legislation and have a tussle with the Supremes about it. One day we’ll change the way we select AKSC justices.

  • I can scarcely see how this can be a lack of due process when the sex offender had his day in court and was convicted. That is the sentence you get when you commit rape of sexual assault. I guess the Alaska Supreme Court has rolled out the red carpet to sex offenders and pedophiles. Just come to Alaska and you can get you name off that list in another state. Now you can creep around schools and daycare, taking pictures of the kiddies and no one will ever know. Is is so wonderful that we have legislators and justices in Alaska who are more caring for pedophiles and drug addicts than they are for hardworking, honest men and women.

    • Not everyone on the registry is a pedophile. Pedophilia is a medical condition, it is not a criminal act and it doesn’t necessarily land one on the registry. Sometimes there IS a lack of due process even though the registrant has already had their day in court and even paid the price for their crime. This occurs when the legislature, pressured to pass “feel good” laws (not necessarily fair or constitutional), later decides to make changes and amendments to their sex offender laws. The changes may affect registrants without affording them the right to due process (which is unconstitutional). This is a violation of the Separation of Powers in which the Legislative encroaches upon the jurisdiction of the Judicial, because punishment is determined at the sentencing phase of a trial, NOT at a later date by a subsequent law or amendment. These legislative actions mar the integrity of the courts and render the Judicial in the eyes of the public as mere buffoons unable to make competent decisions when it comes to convictions and sentencing. This is contrary to a consistent, predictable system which helps us to have confidence in the rulings of the judge and jury.

  • This decision could impact many more states than Alaska if it is appealled to the Supreme Court & upheld. Other states have these sex offender registry rules requiring both in state & out of staters to register in their jurisdictions.

  • The problem is most people are NOT sentenced to follow the registry rules. They’re “after the fact” laws these people must follow. At the very least the people convicted BEFORE the law took effect shouldn’t have to abide by it. It’s like saying oh, I see you had a traffic ticket 15 years ago. Well we just made a new law and you owe the government 50 dollars. In fact, you must pay us 50 dollars quarterly the rest of your life. That’s what’s happening to the offenders convicted years ago. Some of those people did their crimes in the 70s and 80s, only to be told they must follow a new law and that it isnt punishment. Yes……its punishment and unconstitutional.

  • Aren’t the supremes in Alaska appointed, not elected? Sounds like a liberal/dim disbursement in the majority ruling on this. Even appointed “justices” are subject to public action. If they can be appointed, they can be “disappointed”(pun). Governor Dunleavy and conservative supporters need to get involved to fix another problem left us by his predecessors. Another case where “all that’s necessary for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing”. Not sure who said that but it sure fits. It may be up to Alaskan citizens to fix this problem themselves, otherwise. Maybe a citizens’ appeal/petition to the fed supremes. That seems to be the case more and more where those “poor criminals” are “mistreated”. Seems they have more rights than law abiding citizens and their children, in many instances.

    • Yes.. criminals have rights you dont have. No ex-post facto laws, no double punishments, no cruel and unusual punishments.

      You really want to have THOSE rights?

  • ???? Sex offender to his fostercare kid & biological daughter… Not on there.
    REALLY …., WHY DO THEY SAY… WHY
    ARE THEY REOFFENDING ???
    Because they were NEVER punished.
    * Michael Anderson
    * Steve Clymer

  • The AK Supreme Court made a grave error. Mr. Doe moving 5,000 miles did not all of a sudden cure his mental illness or his criminal mind – whatever the correct diagnosis is. The Court saying that Doe must have an opportunity to demonstrate that he is “safe” is like trusting the fox who lives near a henhouse.
    Would any of the judges trust Mr. Doe to take their grandkids to the park?

    • So people not on the sex offender registry you trust to take your grandkids to the park? Wow! You have zero sense..

      • At issue is Mr. Doe. When did the topic open up to all adults?
        Stick to the issue and you will sound more cogent.

        • There are a lot of people, on the registry or not, that you don”t trust with kids. Using the registry to do that kind of vetting is dangerous.

          Is Mr. Doe Dangerous? You don’t want him in a court of law trying to show he is not dangerous? WHY NOT?

  • What about the 17 yo boy with a 16 yo girlfriend…he turns 18, and is arrested for statutory rape. He ends up on the sex-offender registry. That is just wrong. Those are the ones who should NOT be on the registry.

    • There have been sex offender prosecutions of underage teens (both sexes) who are sexting one another with word and image. Those convicted end up on the list for the rest of their lives. Where do you draw the line between young and dumb and evil? Difficult stuff. Cheers –

      • I dealt with a guy that women in State government were constantly harassing because he was on the sex offender list. It was a teenaged romance and her parents had some influence, so he got nailed for statutory rape and went on the list for life.

        Fifty years ago at least half the men in American would have had to register as sex offenders by today’s standards. Back then putting your arm around a girl at the movie and sliding your hand down to see if you could get a side feel of her breast was just a part of growing up; she’d have thought you didn’t like her if you didn’t try. Today, that is sexual assault.

  • I left the registry. When I was on it I could not keep a home, job, or friends. Now that I am not on it, I have a home, job and friends. Not only that but the registry is applied ex-post facto.

    Who here thinks a person who can’t find a home, can’t keep a job, and can’t maintain healthy relationships is safe for the community?

    Exactly why I will never go back on your illegal, ex-post facto registry.

  • I always figured it was the sex offenders who weren’t on the registry that parents and kids should be worried about

  • Will someone please give the names of those that voted and, how they voted. For it against.

  • Hi Susan,

    Would you mind putting your skills to work for us?
    When is the next judge retention vote and will any of these three dims be on the list?
    Thanks, Steve

    • You lack the skills to press a link in the article? If that is true..maybe you should not have access to a registry.

  • Women Against Registry advocates for the families who have loved ones required to register as sexual offenders.
    More about the issue:
    According to the NCMEC map there are over 912,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the “crimes” range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bait-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.

    If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 3 million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant….all these things occur when these people try to hold their family together and provide the three things that professionals indicate are needed for successful reintegration; a job, a place to live and a “positive” support system.

    The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics – ‘Frightening and High’ (Debunks the 80% recidivism rate cited by now SCOTUS Justice Kennedy)

    It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12 page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.
    ABSTRACT This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the facts. This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015. Google: Frightening and High Essay

    A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that:
    a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser;
    b) 34.2% were family members;
    c) 58.7% were acquaintances;
    d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers;
    e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home;
    f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Jill Levenson, PhD, Lynn University)

    There is a tremendous need to fund programs like “Stop It Now” that teaches about grooming behaviors and other things at age-appropriate levels in their Circles of Safety.

    Our question to the public is one of, when does redemption begin?

    • This is the first case I have heard of whereby a hearing is mandated to allow someone off a registry that does not pose a danger to society. Every other scheme I have read about is statatorily created.

      But a real problem arises (that is being litigated in a federal case out of Colorado), in that how does a person prove a negative? It is impossible and therefore no person is ever let off a registry.

      I have been arguing for about a decade for exactly a hearing like this. I feel vindicated. But I am also cautious about how elected judges will view anyone, no matter their particular circumstances, who want off the registry.

      The U.S. likes to tag itself as a government with an independent judiciary, and more or less, on the federal level that is true. However, when judges are elected, (as most on the State level are), that independence can be greatly diminished, and even the appearance of independence can be lacking.

  • When a person has paid their debt to society, through a prison term and a probation order, then that person has paid their debt to society and should not be punished eternally for a violation of the law.
    Not even murderers have too be on a list

  • In some cases, if you’re caught urinating in public, that can get you on the list. It’s too broad. Idk what that guy did, but the ak sc is probably right, people at the very least should have a chance to prove they won’t piss in public anymore.

  • Perhaps Ralph is guilty of Sexual Crimes himself…he sure is taking up for the Offender in this case…

    • James, your innuendo is uncalled for. His argument is rational, it doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment.

    • Your logic doesnt make any sense. It’s the same logic that racists used when people were defending black peoples rights during the civil rights movement, calling them ****er lovers. No. You’re supposed to keep government in check and acountable before they really get too big. Look at what happened to Germany during the Nazi era. They let government abuses get too large before it was too late. Break the law, you deserve prison, but not being released to everlasting punishment and new laws tailored for you ignored the ex post facto clause. Imagine if they made a new law that said everyone who has EVER had a speeding ticket must now pay $50 every three months for the rest of their lives. No, it’s not punishment, it’s a civil regulation. People would be ready to overthrow the government. That’s exactly what’s happening to said people. Keep in mind, not even murderers are treated that way in most states and the government has admitted sex offenders have a low recidivism rate for new sexual crimes. Most people convicted are people who were never on the registry.

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