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June 20, 2008

"Live Free or Die," but be sure to pay up NH sex offenders

The official motto of the state of New Hampshire is "Live Free or Die."  But, as detailed in this local article, it is apparently fine in the state to charge a fee for sex offender as they make this choice:

The state Supreme Court has upheld the state's practice of charging convicted sex offenders $34 a year to pay for the state's sex offender registry. Philip Horner, a former Barrington doctor who was convicted in 2000 of five counts of felonious sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl, had challenged the expense as an illegal disproportionate tax....

Horner's appeal challenged the twice-a-year $17 fee convicted sex offenders must pay each time they register their address and other particulars with their local police department. State law requires the registration and the $17 semi-annual charge.

The money covers the cost of registering sex offenders: $15 of it goes toward the costs of maintaining the statewide sex offender registry. The remaining $2 goes to the local police department for work registering offenders.

Horner argued that the fee is really an unfair, disproportionate tax because it pays for a registry that benefits all citizens but is paid by only the sex offenders who register. The state disagreed and argued that the charge is a legal fee because the law serves a regulatory purpose, and the money charged helps defray the cost of maintaining the registry, according to court records.

The justices agreed in an unanimous opinion issued yesterday. "We hold that the $17 semi-annual charge imposed upon sex offenders is not intended to raise additional revenue but, rather, is used to solely support a governmental regulatory activity made necessary by the actions of those who are required to pay the charge," the court said.

The full opinion from the New Hampshire Supreme Court can be accessed here.

June 20, 2008 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

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Comments

that is a nice way to confirm that who is reading your blog :)

Posted by: anwalt fuer arbeitsrecht | Jun 20, 2008 11:01:59 AM

It has become popular practice to strip sex offenders of their rights, to brand them with a scarlet letter and (apparently) now to take money out of their pockets. They key to certain laws is to prevent criems such as sexual molestation. Further punishing these individuals in no way prevents further crimes. While this is a creative way to handle the situation, how far will this sort of action go?

Posted by: JT | Jun 20, 2008 11:02:52 AM

Sounds like they argued the wrong argument. Maybe they should have argued ex-post facto due to the financial punishment engendered by forcing SO's to pay what amounts to a fine twice per year. This is clearly a punishment (same as the residency restriction truly are).

I am not associated with the legal profession. I am a registered sex offender keeping up on the news that keeps me out of prison.

Posted by: RSO | Jun 20, 2008 1:11:36 PM

Further punishing these individuals in no way prevents further crimes.

Really? If it's common knowledge that society basically never forgives sex offenders or leaves them alone, that should deter at least a few people from crossing the line.

Posted by: anonymous | Jun 20, 2008 2:44:23 PM

"that should deter at least a few people from crossing the line."

If you can provide evidence to support that theory then great but 'should' and 'do' are two different things.

Posted by: | Jun 21, 2008 6:30:22 PM

Agreed. If JT could provide evidence to support his/her/its theory, that would also be great.

Posted by: anonymous | Jun 21, 2008 8:34:53 PM

JT doesn't have to provide any evidence to support the statement "further punishing these individuals in no way prevents further crimes." You can't prove a negative. Rather, those who disagree must prove that the additional punishment does in fact prevent further crimes. The problem is that such evidence does not exist, and what evidence does exist points to the fact that JT stated already. I'll go ahead and prove his statement anyway:

Human Rights Watch: No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the U.S.

___Quote___

Current registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws may be counterproductive, impeding rather than promoting public safety. For example, the proliferation of people required to register even though their crimes were not serious makes it harder for law enforcement to determine which sex offenders warrant careful monitoring. Unfettered online access to registry information facilitates—if not encourages—neighbors, employers, colleagues, and others to shun and ostracize former offenders—diminishing the likelihood of their successful reintegration into communities. Residency restrictions push former offenders away from the supervision, treatment, stability, and supportive networks they may need to build and maintain successful, law abiding lives. For example, Iowa officials told Human Rights Watch that they are losing track of registrants who have been made transient by the state’s residency restriction law or who have dropped out of sight rather than comply with the law. As one Iowa sheriff said, “We are less safe as a community now than we were before the residency restrictions.”

Many child safety and rape prevention advocates believe that millions of dollars are being misspent on registration and community notification programs that do not get at the real causes of child sexual abuse and adult sexual violence. They would like to see more money spent on prevention, education, and awareness programs for children and adults, counseling for victims of sexual violence, and programs that facilitate treatment and the transition back to society for convicted sex offenders. As one child advocate told Human Rights Watch, “When a sex offender succeeds in living in the community, we are all safer.”

Posted by: The Angry Offender | Jul 26, 2008 7:38:03 PM

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