Monday, March 8, 2010

Maine Citizen's For Change Presses Legislative Fight

If you leave lawmakers alone and assign them the task of fixing a state's sex offender registry, odds are they will screw it up. So Maine Citizen's for Change decided to leave nothing to chance when the state's Supreme Court gave lawmakers until the end of this month to alter the state's sex offender laws.

The citizen's group is little more than one year old. But they are speaking with a voice that can be heard in Augusta. Members of the group have been using the telephone and email to lobby lawmakers.

Members of the legislature are up against a deadline set by the state's high court to address infirmities in the state's existing sex offender laws. The court held in Latalien that retroactive registration was, in fact, punitive and could constitute ex post facto punishment.

"The retroactive application of the lifetime registration requirement and quarterly in-person verification procedures of SORNA of 1999 to offenders originally sentenced subject to SORA of 1991 and SORNA of 1995, without, at a minimum, affording those offenders any opportunity to ever be relieved of the duty as was permitted under those laws, is, by the clearest proof, punitive, and violates the Maine and United States Constitutions’ prohibitions against ex post facto laws. [¶64] Because the Legislature, in its upcoming session, may wish to consider revisions to SORNA of 1999 to address the registration of offenders originally sentenced subject to SORA of 1991 and SORNA of 1995, we postpone the effective date of our mandate to March 31, 2010. See M.R. App. P. 14(c). State v. Letalien, 2009 ME 130 (emphasis added)."

Lawmakers are expected to vote tomorrow on a proposal to change the law to satisfy the court. Maine Citizens for Change is hoping that lawmakers will provide reform that takes into account the individual characteristics of a registrant.

For further information about how to get involved in Maine contact:

Jane M Cantral
State Coordinator
Maine Citizens For Change

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