Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Two Megan's Law Statutes. (Connecticut and Alaska Cases)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Two Megan's Law Statutes. (Connecticut and Alaska Cases)

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold Megan's Law statutes in two key decisions.

Those rulings, made last month, mark the first by the high court on Megan's Laws, which are designed to ensure that the public can obtain information about the backgrounds of convicted sex offenders. Versions of Megan's Law exist in all states and the District of Columbia.

In the case of Connecticut of Public Safety vs. Doe, the court ruled unanimously in favor of Connecticut's right to publish names, photographs, and other details about convicted sex offenders online without giving offenders the opportunity to argue whether or not they are still dangerous. Connecticut's Web site included information about offenders convicted of murder, rape, indecent exposure, and consensual sex with underage partners.

Two years earlier, a district court judge ruled that Connectricut's online registry was unconstitutional because it failed to discriminate between offenders who posed a risk and those who did not. The registry has been off-line for 2 years because of legal challenges.

But Connecticut's registry included a disclaimer stating that the presence of people on the site does not imply that they are still dangerous, U.S. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote on behalf of the court. Furthermore, the fact that an offender seeks to prove "that he is not currently dangerous is of no consequence under Connecticut Megan's Law," Justice Rehnquist wrote.

Justice Antonin Scalia noted in a concurring opinion: "A convicted sex offender has no more right to additional process' enabling him to establish that he is not dangerous . …

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