Alaska justices put limits on sex offender registry
Dan Joling/The Associated Press
Originally published Saturday, July 26, 2008 at 8:50 a.m.
Updated Saturday, July 26, 2008 at 6:31 p.m.
The decision Friday was brought in the case of a man convicted in 1985 and listed under the pseudonym "John Doe" in the lawsuit.
The Legislature in 1994 passed the Alaska Sex Offender Registration Act.
Justices said detailed personal information about sex offenders required by the law and posted on the Internet cannot be applied to "Doe" or others convicted and sentenced before the law was enacted.
That would violate the ex post facto clause of the Alaska Constitution, justices said. An ex post facto law is a one passed after the commission of an act and which retrospectively changes the legal consequences.
The decision reverses a Superior Court ruling in favor of the state. It was written by Justice Robert L. Eastaugh. Chief Justice Dana Fabe dissented.
According to the decision, "Doe" was charged with three counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, one of his daughters. He pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of second-degree.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison with four suspended and he went behind bars in August 1985.
With a reduction for good behavior, he was released to mandatory parole in December 1990. In September 1991, the Parole Board released him from mandatory parole two years early, determining that he had participated in rehabilitative counseling and posed little or no threat to the public. He completed probation in 1995.
The sex offender registration law took effect Aug. 10, 1994.
The law requires sex offenders to register with the Department of Corrections, Alaska State Troopers or local police. They must disclose their names, job location, aliases, driver's license numbers, information about their vehicles and anticipated address changes.
They must periodically reregister. Their photos appear on the state's Web site, labeled as sex offenders.
Attorneys for "Doe" contend the law substantially altered the consequences attached to his completed crime and that the Alaska Constitution afforded him more protection than the federal version.
State attorneys said the measure was a regulatory law intended to help protect the public, not a penal law aimed at the offender and was not intended to punish convicted individuals for past acts.
Justices disagreed, concluding the law's effect was punitive. It places a severe stigma on all to whom it applies. Offenders face intrusive duties under threat of prosecution and are subject to profound humiliation and community-wide ostracism, the decision said.
State attorneys argued that negative effects on employment and housing opportunities would exist even without the registry and result not from dissemination of information but from the conviction itself. State attorneys said there was no evidence that Alaskans have directed any wrath at convicted sex offenders and that the sex offender registry Web site warns not to commit crimes using information from the site.
Justices did not find those arguments persuasive.
They also said every person convicted of a sex offense must provide the same information, and it's published the same way, whether they're convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or the worst offense, an unclassified felony.
The state sex offender registry is off-line until Monday, according to a note on the site.
On the Net:
Recent Supreme Court decisions: http://www.state.ak.us/courts/sp.htm
Alaska Sex Offender/Child Kidnapper Registry: http://www.dps.state.ak.us/sorweb2/default.aspx
Damn Alaska. Supreme court lets sex offenders off the hook.
Alaska justices put limits on sex offender registry
I lived in Alaska during the mid nineties. While working at a tourist resort, my employer let all the employees know that if they take part in an annual streaking event that occurred late at night(I don't remember the exact details of this event, but I remember it involved running around naked) and were subsequently arrested, you would then be classified as a sex offender.
It's amazing they will leave some offenders off the books, yet if you run around naked in the wilderness of alaska you could be subject to prosecution and registration as a sex offender.
That sucks. Does the Governor have anything to do with this, or is the supreme court of Alaska a totally separate branch?
I'm not familiar with alaska government and law as I lived there for less than one year. I also don't know for a fact if my employer was accurate regarding the consequences of being arrested for public nudity. It was a former police officer, then working with me in the security department, that warned us about taking part in the streaking event.
When I used to mountain bike, I heard this story on the radio:
A teacher had to urinate, and he pulled his car on the side of the highway. while doing so, the cops came.
being arrested on public exposure. he lost his job!
makes you think twice in this world........
think america is free? it is a police state
Yes, watered down S.O laws suck. They make light of actual offenders like the one I mentioned. The system needs reformed. No, I'm not trying to pin it on Palin, unless she had something to do with it. In that case if the shoe fits....
Ya know, I found out that governors appoint state supreme court justices, special prosecutors, etc. so if she appointed even one of these bozo's.....
I can't imagine what makes their minds work, to harm a child is unconscionable.... to have to live with that on your mind must be unbearable... even knowing that happened to your brother... still, I'd want to kill someone that hurt my brother....
Bad that such things exist.... very sad... Please accept my condolences...
Well, frankly, yeah, I'm angry at him, but he was a kid as well when alot of this happened. Sex offender recidivism CAN be stopped if you catch them very young. Instead, the elders didn't allow him, or any of his victims to get help, so I'm far angrier at them. For the same reason, i'm furious w/ Alaska's supreme court. Once again, these bastards get a free pass.