Monday, January 09, 2006


The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments on whether the state's sex-offender registration law is unconstitutional.

Several convicted offenders claim in the suit that the registration act "violates substantive due process rights and equal protection rights because it infringes on fundamental liberty rights, imposes a lifetime stigma, has no express purpose and, even if it serves a compelling interest, is not narrowly tailored or rationally related to that interest."

Of local interest is one of the plaintiffs, identified in the suit as John Doe I. From the plaintiffs' brief:
By his plea of guilt to sexual assault in Lawrence County, Missouri, in 1998, John Doe I was convicted of having inappropriately touched, at age 17, his 15-year-old girlfriend. He initially pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea and received a suspended execution of sentence. His probation expired in 1992.
Keep the dates clear. Doe pleaded guilty in 1988 and was released from probation in 1992.

The Missouri General Assembly passed the sex-registration act in 1994 -- six years after Doe was caught petting his girlfriend, and two years after he completed his probation. Is it fair that Doe will be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life? He is in his mid-30s now; another half-century of forced registration could be required under the law.

Such a retrospective law (or is it an ex post facto law?) lumps the pedophile with the teen fondler. On first reading the law seems terribly broad -- the usual flaw when politicians rush to prove that they're tough on crime. Rational debate is rare when children are invoked as a reason to make bad laws.

But common sense tells us that you are much more likely to be the victim of a burglary than a sexual assault. Common sense insists that most sex-crime victims know their assailants, but most burglars are strangers. So why no list of burglars in your neighborhood?

Read the case summary and the filings from both sides by clicking here. The case is styled Jane Doe I, et al. v. Thomas Phillips et al.


Anonymous said...

I have a guy that lives across the street from me that is on the sheriffs map of sexual offenders in town. He keeps to himself, is married, and has a noisy puppy. According to the records he is a very bad guy. I can tell you that the three MoSt guys that live next door to him, who I watched stealing signs, and artwork, from business around the hood are far more criminals than he is now.

Anonymous said...

At age 12 I was molested by a 15-year old cousin. Today, at age 44, he still prefers 12 year old girls. How many offenses do they need to commit before they should be on the list?

Ron Davis said...

Anon: Was your cousin convicted of molesting you? Other children? Has he served time in prison for his sex crimes? If so, the law requires him to register.