Friday, September 11, 2009

Maryland Legal Update

Whats new in Maryland concerning laws pertaining to sex offenders?

Bills that passed in the 2009 session of the General Assembly are retroactivity, minors, photographs and one more I will have to review, all housekeeping sorts of things. An onerous bill to ban from public parks where children regularly gather reported unfavorably. In all there were 36 bills of which 4 became law. Curiously, re minors, retroactive registration is required, a topic addressed in the recent 9th Cir. panel decision discussed in this post.

Maryland currently does not have residency restrictions. These, and additional bans from public property (Md currently bans so from schools and day care property) would make it even more difficult for the ex felon to reenter society, create sex offender ghettos, and headache and expense to enforce. We see this from experience in Georgia, Iowa, Florida and other states that do this restriction.

Residency restrictions typically restrict within various distances from schools, day cares, bus stops and parks. In places this effectively bans so from large portions of the city, in some instances the entire metro area. Rural locale become the only place so may live. In Miami, a bridge causeway has become home to many. Homelessness is the only option for many.

Registration is not effective and should be reviewed. At a minimum the three tier risk category regime needs work. Too many on the registry do not belong there, do not require monitoring, and pose no danger to the community. The risk regime fails to account for this.

Registration is costly and tax payers do not see any benefits.

Registration has collateral consequences for ex offender's families, many of whom face stigma simply by being related to a registered person. This is unjustifiable given that most registered persons are either wrongly convicted, pose no danger, or are convicted of minor off-the-wall offenses as solicitation, aiding and abetting, public urination, possession of child porn, romeo and juliet and statutory sex that present no danger of recidivism, crimes that non puritan societies do not consider crimes. Most do not recidivate according to DOJ and all credible studies (95 percent).

Registration does not separate predators from the non dangerous variety.

Registration cannot forecast future crimes, or the geographical location of crime as thought to be related to the public disclosure of so residence addresses, and not even if the perp is a registered person as the recent Garrido case shows. The case spotlights the failure of registration to perform the intended function, which is prevention and public safety.

California is considering a registry for arsonists.

Registries create an underclass and movement toward tyranny, toward government sanctioned badges of poverty and slavery, an underclass of have-nots. Registries are a tool of oppression useful only to fear mongers and business seeking to maintain a cheap labor pool. As history tells it from ancient times to Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, this is the beginning of the end of free society. The right wing, neo-con, southern churches and oil lobby have concocted this as part of a scheme to roll back the freedoms of the New Deal and liberal allies have taken the bait, hook, line and sinker. These are the same lobbies that seek to cut medicare and medicaid, children's health insurance, fight bitterly against a public health insurance option, seek to abolish the department of education and roll back a minimum wage law. Look at your neighbor, your elected representative, your mayor, your congressm or senator, and see if that is him or her.

It would be nice to know who is going to commit the next crime or sex crime but this is impossible to predict. Those convicted of sex crime are not so different from the general population of ex offender as to warrant the special attention they have received. Registries are a threat to freedom everywhere. Everyone deserves a second chance to make a first impression.

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