The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld(pdf) the right to list non-sex offenders on the state’s sex-offender registry, due to statutory requirements that don’t consider whether there was any sexual content to crimes involving minors. From Wired:
Atlanta criminal defense attorney Ann Marie Fitz estimated that perhaps thousands of convicts convicted of non-sexual crimes have been placed in sex-offender databases. Fitz represents a convict who was charged with false imprisonment when he was 18 for briefly detaining a 17-year-old girl during a soured drug deal. He unsuccessfully challenged his mandatory, lifelong sex-offender listing to the Georgia Supreme Court, which ruled against him Monday.
Under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2007, the states are required to have statutes demanding sex-offender registration for those convicted of kidnapping or falsely imprisoning minors. The Georgia court ruled that the plain meaning of “sex offender” was overridden by the state’s law.
“Rainer’s belief that the term ’sexual offender’ may only apply to offenders who commit sexual offenses against minors does not change the fact that the definition provided in the statute, and not the definition that Rainer wishes to impose upon the statute, controls,” the court’s majority said.
Two judges in dissent wrote that, because registration limits where offenders may live, work and congregate, it “is not a requirement that should be imposed cavalierly.”
Fitz’s client, Jake Rainer, is waiting to see if Georgia changes its law before asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review his registration requirement. Fitz argues that that being forced to register as a sex offender, without having committed a sex crime, is cruel and unusual punishment.
In addition to the obvious stigma associated with deviant behavior, listed offenders cannot live near schools or work with children. Additionally, their photos are often publicly available online, they’re banned from social networking sites, and they must get permission to travel across state lines.
Hat tip to Jesse Walker at Reason Magazine.