By Liz Wu, April 03 2012
Earlier today, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down part of a law mandating certain youth sex offenders to register for life, because the punishment is cruel and unusual.
Under Ohio's Adam Walsh Act, teens classified as the most dangerous sex offenders must register - for the rest of their lives - with law enformencement and have their photos, addresses and criminal histories distributed to neighbors and schools.
In a 5-2 opinion, Ohio's Supreme Court ruled the punishment violates both Ohio and US constitutions because it is cruel and unusual and because it violates a defendant's right to due process.
From the Associated Press:
Not only is the requirement unconstitutional, it also defeats the purpose of the juvenile court system, Justice Paul Pfeifer said, writing for the majority.
The mandatory registration "undercuts the rehabilitative purpose of Ohio's juvenile system and eliminates the important role of the juvenile court's discretion in the disposition of juvenile offenders and thus fails to meet the due process requirement of fundamental fairness," Pfeifer wrote.
He also said it defeats another goal of the juvenile court system: cloaking children in confidentiality and allowing them to avoid stigma once they have served their time in the juvenile system and become adults.
"Confidentiality promotes rehabilitation by allowing the juvenile to move into adulthood without the baggage of youthful mistakes," Pfeifer said. "Public exposure of those mistakes brands the juvenile as an undesirable wherever he goes."
Justices Terrence O'Donnell and Robert Cupp disagreed with the majority opinion.
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
The registration requirements "are civil in nature and part of a regulatory scheme designed to protect the public from sex offenders," O'Donnell wrote in the dissenting opinion.
Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.
*Photo at top by Flickr user jcaputo4
Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform, No bio box, Ohio
Updated: February 08 2018