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Sex Offenders Sue to Overturn Expanded Registry

August 12, 2009

VermontPublicRadio : Sex offenders sue to overturn expanded sex registry.

Two convicted sex offenders have gone to court to block the state from posting their names on the Internet.
The public posting is required under a new law that expands Vermont’s sex offender registry.

But the lawsuit says the new registration requirements violate the offenders’ rights. It says by making their names public, the state will punish the offenders again for a crime for which they’ve already done time.

The lawsuit was filed in Washington Superior Court. David Sleigh is a St. Johnsbury lawyer who filed the case on behalf of two Caledonia County men.

(Sleigh) “They have not been found to be predators; they don’t present a general risk to anyone. And it seems to us unfortunate and wrong to all of a sudden put them, pictures, address, everything else, on the Internet and expose them to the opprobrium, and humiliation and perhaps vengeance that might attend that posting.”

(Dillon) Sleigh said his clients were convicted in the 1990s – one in Massachusetts and the other in New Hampshire. He said both served their sentences and have been released from probation.

(Sleigh) “This constitutes additional punishment applied after the fact. And that’s unconstitutional. Secondly, we’ve argued that this is a material change in the bargain that these two clients made, both of them entered plea agreements for certain consideration. Now years later there’s an additional component of punishment that’s being added.”

(Sears) “They’re not seen as punishment. Registry requirements are not seen as punishment. And I think that’s the key issue. But there’s always some concern when it’s prospective, or after the person’s already served their time.”

(Dillon) But Attorney Sleigh said Supreme Courts in two states – Alaska and Indiana – have ruled that the retroactive registry requirements did constitute a form of additional punishment.

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