Harsh Federal Law on Shaky Ground

April 12, 2009

forensicpsychologist.blogspot.com : Harsh federal law on shaky scientific ground.

Did you know that each year, about 10,000 children will have to register as sex offenders for life?

That’s part of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, embedded in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act passed by the U.S. Congress two years ago. Under SORNA, these arrested juveniles will be subject to warrantless searches for the rest of their lives, despite the fact that as kids they did not have the same types of due process rights that protect adults in criminal court.

Meanwhile, other aspects of SORNA face challenges, and a few such challenges are headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Specifically, legal challenges assert that SORNA exceeds federal rights by encroaching on state and local decision-making.

As summarized in the current issue of the American Bar Association journal, at least two courts have sided with critics and invalidated some or all of the registry law, and in a third case the new law has been put on hold until arguments are heard. (I reported on one of those cases, U.S. v. Waybright, back in August – the blog post with links is here.)

SORNA-style databases are already being extended to domestic violence offenders, and if they are upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court they are likely to extend even further (to drunk driving, animal abuse, drug offenders, and others) .That is the conclusion of Wayne A. Logan, a law professor at Florida State University and author of the forthcoming book Knowledge as Power: A History of Criminal Registration Laws in America.

So, warn your kids now: Don’t ever get arrested. You may be publicly stigmatized – and perhaps even subject to warrantless searches – for the rest of your life.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: