Court: Alaska sex offender registry violates rights.
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s sex offender registry violates offenders’ due process rights because it provides no means for them to demonstrate that they are not a threat to public safety, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.
The court in a 3-2 decision ruled offenders must be given an opportunity to prove they are rehabilitated, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .
The case involves a man convicted of aggravated sexual battery in 2000 in Virginia. He was required to register in Virginia as a sex offender.
The man moved to Alaska in January 2003 and registered as a sex offender. The Department of Public Safety informed him he had to register each January and the man did so for 2004 and 2005.
In 2005, the department informed him had to register quarterly for life if he kept living in Alaska. The department noted that his Virginia conviction had the same elements as first-degree sexual assault in Alaska, which requires quarterly registration.
The man ceased registering. In 2007, he was was convicted of failure to register as a sex offender.
The man sued in 2016, claiming the state had no authority to require him to register and that Alaska law violated his due process rights.
The Supreme Court in an opinion written by Senior Justice Warren Matthews rejected his first contention and ruled that Alaska can require registration by offenders convicted in other states.
The decision addressed the due process question without invalidating the law, which would have triggered taking down the registry temporarily. When a replacement act was put in place, questions would have been raised about whether it could be retroactive, the opinion said.
The offender originally from Virginia should be allowed to attempt to prove that he no longer poses a risk to the public that justifies continued registration, the ruling said.
“If he prevails, he should be relieved of the requirements of registration. If he does not, he must comply with the Act. However, after a reasonable time, he may be permitted to file a new complaint, again seeking relief from the requirements of the Act based on a showing of changed circumstances,” Matthews wrote in the majority opinion.