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June 1, 2018

"Challenging the Punitiveness of 'New-Generation' SORN Laws"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new article by Wayne Logan now available via SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

Sex offender registration and notification (SORN) laws have been in effect nationwide since the 1990s, and publicly available registries today contain information on hundreds of thousands of individuals.  To date, most courts, including the Supreme Court in 2003, have concluded that the laws are regulatory, not punitive, in nature, allowing them to be applied retroactively consistent with the Ex Post Facto Clause.  Recently, however, several state supreme courts, as well as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, addressing challenges lodged against new-generation SORN laws of a considerably more onerous and expansive character, have granted relief, concluding that the laws are punitive in effect. 

This symposium contribution examines these decisions, which are distinct not only for their results, but also for the courts’ decidedly more critical scrutiny of the justifications, purposes, and efficacy of SORN laws.  The implications of the latter development in particular could well lay the groundwork for a broader challenge against the laws, including one sounding in substantive due process, which unlike ex post facto-based litigation would affect the viability of SORN vis-à-vis current and future potential registrants.

June 1, 2018 at 10:55 AM | Permalink


Some states have required payment for the costs of the registries. I guess, if one does not pay, one goes to jail.

If I were registered, I would prominently mention that on any dating site. It may get more dating interest.

Registries serve no valid government purpose. Any harassment of the registrant by neighbors is a crime. What is the purpose save state government rent seeking? Rent seeking is a fraudulent act. That argument has not been made. The states should be fined by the federal government for fraud. They are also quackery, since child porn has exploded in volume. Sexual abuse has also increased. I am not counting the production of child porn involved in sexting by underage people.

Posted by: David Behar | Jun 1, 2018 11:14:26 AM

Members of the public, especially parents of young children, have a right to know if a registered sex offender has moved in next door to them or is living in their neighborhood. To deny the parents access to the list of offenders is to put their children in danger. I realize some offenders did not sexually assault a child but people still have a right to know if someone they see hanging around schools or any place children gather is listed as a sex offender. Sex offenders who have been interviewed in or out of prison have unequivocally stated they would offend again if given the opportunity through parole or release. A child sex offender cannot be "cured" as far as technology exists today. The thing that needs to change is: each case should be determined on the facts involved. A 19 year old male "dating" a 15 year old girl who is a consensual sex partner should not be placed on a permanent list. I understand that a 15 year old does not have the judgement or reasoning to legally consent but it is still not the same as the forceful rape of a child. I also understand that the offender has almost no chance of getting a job when released from prison and is on a list and the same is true for finding a place to live. That is a catch 22 but the safety of the public has to take precedent over the challenges of a sex offender to establish a life after prison and being listed as a sex offender.

Posted by: Siobhan | Jun 2, 2018 7:25:55 PM

To Soibhan:
Do your homework before you make general assumptions like you have in this blog. Provide list of your sources.
On the surface, it would seem that you are right. But then there's the research, the data that clearly concludes that you are uninformed. As a courtesy to you, here is a quote from just one of many data sources;
The Office of Sex Offender, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking:
"The rates of recidivism for general crime are higher than those for sex crime."

Posted by: tommyc | Jun 2, 2018 10:57:50 PM

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