Utah files friend of court briefs in sex offender registry cases
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has joined two actions asking the United States Supreme Court to overturn decisions against public sex offender registries in Alaska and Connecticut.
The Alaska Court of Appeals ruled that the registries are illegal because the information inflicts additional punishment on sex offenders.
The Connecticut Court of Appeals ruling requires a hearing to determine whether a sex offender is "particularly likely to be currently dangerous" before he or she is added to a public registry.
Before the rulings, the two states had similar programs to the one currently in place in Utah.
The registry was available to the public on the Internet and provided the convicted sex offender's name, crime, current address, physical description and photograph.
"The pubic has a right to know and parents absolutely need to know whether a convicted sex offender is living in their neighborhood," stressed Shurtleff.
The friend of the court briefs argue that the registration does not violate a convicted sex offender's right to due process or restrict the freedom of the individual.
In addition, the friend of the court briefs maintain that the sex offender registry is a public record and the posted information can be accessed in other public records.
The court papers cite numerous studies concluding that a substantial number of convicted sex offenders will recommit crimes and it is nearly impossible to determine which are still dangerous.
One report determined that a convicted sex offender has an average of two "official victims," but admitted to an "average 184 victims per inmate."
Utah and 35 states, territories and districts joined the friend of the court brief in Connecticut. Utah and 42 other jurisdictions signed on for the Alaska brief.
The U.S. Supreme Court previously agreed to hear the arguments in the Alaska and Connecticut cases.