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August 17, 2014

Noting a legal mess with sex offender registries that is not ok in OK

This local article, headlined "Confusion Continues Over Sex Offender Registry In Oklahoma," spotlights some of the legal challenges that can arise when a jurisdiction keeps tinkering with its sex offender registration laws. Here are excerpts:

After years of revisions laws concerning Oklahoma sex offenders, there is still confusion over the offender registry. Seven years ago, Oklahoma amended the state's Sex Offender Registration Act that requires the Department of Corrections to assess offenders by assigning them to one of three risk levels.

A sex offender's level determines how long they have to register. "Except, this is the confusing part, unless your case was before 2007, and if it was before 2007, those rules don't apply to you unless aggravated applies to you," said defense attorney David Slane. "The legislature has changed the rules repeatedly, then the Department of Corrections is trying to interpret it to thousands of people, and in the meantime, the average policeman is trying to figure out what am I supposed to do, am I supposed to arrest this individual or not."

Slane said the rules are not as black and white as they used to be and calls it legal chaos. Last month, a convicted sex offender was arrested in Edmond for public intoxication. He had been living by a school and told police the 2007 law prevented him from having to re-register as a sex offender. We tried looking the offender up on the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, but he wasn't even listed.

The confusing laws are troubling for parents. "Of course it concerns me, you know, especially, when you have little kids around, I would like to know who is living next door to me," said Ivan Alvarez or Tulsa. Stephanie Rodriguez of Amarillo, said she's used the App "MobilePatrol" to see a list of sex offenders nearest her....

There are currently more than 7,000 offenders on the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry. The Department of Corrections say it is currently reviewing about 1,000 sex offender cases.

August 17, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

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Comments

And, of course, the individual who is the subject of all these laws faces an irrebuttable presumption that they know what the law requires of them -- no matter if defense attorneys, judges, police, and prosecutors can't even figure out the byzantine patchwork of laws that SORs have become.

When Caligula ruled Rome, when laws were passed he would have them inscribed in tiny, unreadable type and place them on small parchment posted near the top of the ceiling -- and then would summarily punish people for breaking the law.

I think a legitimate, straight-faced argument can be made that once you reach a certain level of complexity where not even police know what the law requires, how is your average sex offender? And what does it say about our system of justice that we punish people for such mallum in se violations of the law?

Posted by: Guy | Aug 17, 2014 1:37:24 PM

When an irrational and unconstitutional decision regarding the legality of the registry based upon nebulous claims that "the process is not more inconvenient (to the registrant) than filling out a Price Club Application" and "registered sex offenders are not barred from there they live and where they work" is made by the Supreme Court in the first place, then irrationality and unconstitutionality become part and parcel of the landscape itself for every law that emanates from this ridiculous decision.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Aug 17, 2014 3:36:45 PM

Eric:

"then irrationality and unconstitutionality become part and parcel of the landscape itself for every law that emanates from this ridiculous decision."

You hit the nail on the head. I prefer the simpler yet more accurate statement,

You can't polish a turd!

No matter what 9 federal baboons in black pajamas say - and still some idiots claim that our justice system is the "best" system ever devised by humankind to date- (Ptui).

Posted by: albeed | Aug 17, 2014 4:11:11 PM

The Online registry is a pig-in-a-poke.

It has blossomed into a security theater cottage industry that employees thousands with cushy data-entry desk jobs. The NCMEC loves to pounce whenever an abduction make headlines to tout their efficacy and over-sell their relevance. They tout the registry as a "critical tool" for protecting children which is intellectually dishonest of them, but congress falls for this hook, line and sinker when it time for re-appropriations and you can bet your bottom dollar the NCMEC will be front and center, circling the wagon around this illegal mechanism should another constitutional challenge take place. The registry is the NCMEC's prized show horse.

Posted by: Lance Mitaro | Aug 17, 2014 4:45:40 PM

@ albeed

And to those that exalt that "we're a nation of laws" (they say this as though they deserve a round of applause) we're also a nation of for-profit prisons. HOW CONVENIENT. The foundation of Megan's Law is built upon false premise and false association. It implies that ALL sex offenders are safety threats around children which is patently false.

Refering to every individual that committed a sex offense as a "sex offender" is the akin to calling every person an alcoholic that got busted for DUI.

Posted by: Lance Mitaro | Aug 17, 2014 8:25:09 PM

"Seven years ago, Oklahoma amended the state's Sex Offender Registration Act that requires the Department of Corrections to assess offenders by assigning them to one of three risk levels." A sex offender's level determines how long they have to register. "Except, this is the confusing part, unless your case was before 2007, and if it was before 2007, those rules don't apply to you unless aggravated applies to you," said defense attorney David Slane.
Before 2008, the law in Oklahoma stated that the assignment to risk levels was determined by a panel which included a judge, DOC personnel, and a licensed sex offender counselor. Risk level was SUPPOSED to be assigned at sentencing. Unfortunately, Oklahoma wasn't following that law - only the DOC was on that panel. S0 - Oklahoma changed the law, in effect saying that DOC would make the determination, WITHOUT a judge or licensed SO counselor! They also put in a clause stating that the offender couldn't appeal their risk level!
The use of the word AGGRIVATED is confusing as well, because it includes everything from inappropriate touching to rape, and beyond.

Posted by: Oswaldo | Aug 18, 2014 10:23:01 PM

By the way - Oklahoma also has a violent offender registry. I wonder why an "aggravated" offender on the SO registry in Oklahoma isn't listed on the "violent" offender registry?

Posted by: Oswaldo | Aug 18, 2014 10:25:57 PM

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