CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

New Article Spotlight: Challenging the Constitutionality of Strict Liability Sex Offender Registration

Southwestern CrimProf Catherine L. Carpenter is publishing a very interesting paper in Volume 86 of the Boston University Law Review: The Constitutionality of Strict Liability in Sex Offender Registration Laws.  The Abstract:

"People are afraid and it is understandable. One need only hear the heartbreaking account of a child abducted and assaulted, or murdered by a convicted sex offender, to appreciate a community's desire to protect its children from predators who live among them. Sex offender registration and notification schemes, which are designed to track the offenders and to protect the community, are motivated by justifiable regulatory intentions; nonetheless, legislators may be guilty of overreaching. This article explores the constitutionality of sex offender registration laws as it applies to one specific group of convicted sex offenders - the statutory rapist who has been convicted in one of thirty jurisdictions that employs a strict liability framework: specifically, whether strict liability provides a sufficient and constitutional framework for the requirement to register as a sex offender. This article draws the distinction between a narrowly constructed sex offender registration system designed to protect the public, and a net cast so wide that it captures those for whom predatory behavior or criminal intent was never proven. It is argued that because of several factors converging, including the recent Supreme Court decisions in Connecticut Department of Public Safety v. Doe and Lawrence v. Texas, the sweeping nature of sex offender registration laws unconstitutionally impacts the strict liability offender."

Full document here.

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