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Sex crime registry law could be declared unconstitutional

A Kansas man's name was removed from the state's sex-offender list. Now, the Kansas Supreme Court is deciding whether that action was legal. A judge in the case had ruled that the sex crime registry law was unconstitutional. The judge argued that the law promoted unfair isolation of offenders and required them to remain registered for unfair periods of time.

Current law requires certain convicts to register for years with state agencies. About 6,700 Kansans are currently on the list for sex crimes. About 4,300 are listed for drug offenses or violent crimes.

The initial ruling occurred after a 50-year-old man sued law enforcement agencies as he attempted to terminate his registration mandate. The man pleaded guilty to sex crimes in 2003 and was sentenced to 10 years' time on the registry. It appears that the man's term on the offender list was retroactively lengthened because of new legislation. The offender, who now is a married father, would be required to register until 2028 under the new provision. In fact, thousands of offenders could be taken off of the registry. The court could decide that those offenders' rights are being violated.

The state is pushing heavily to keep the new mandates. Those include such offensive requirements as identifying registered offenders with an 'RO' marking on their driver's licenses. Officials say the extended registration terms serve the interests of public safety.

Defendants should not have to suffer unconstitutional punishment simply because of the nature of their crimes. Kansas may have gone too far with the new registry requirements. Sex offenders who have questions about their registration terms may benefit from a consultation with a qualified criminal attorney.

Source: The Wichita Eagle, "Attorney general appeals offender registry ruling" Roxana Hegeman, Jan. 23, 2014

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