Privacy Law: Requiring Convicted Sex Term Paper

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Connecticut, like every other state, has responded to the need to protect the community by enacting a statute designed to protect its communities from sex offenders and to help apprehend repeat sex offenders. Connecticut's "Megan's Law" applies to "all persons convicted of criminal offenses against a minor, violent and nonviolent sexual offenses, and felonies committed for a sexual purpose," hardly sympathetic defendants ("Privacy loses to security," 2003, LSU Law Center). Also, by definition the law only applies to convicted sex offenders, who had already ceded their liberties by virtue of their conviction at trial, which arguably make the state's interest in protecting the safety of its citizens, especially its most vulnerable citizens, greater than protecting the rights of the convicted individual.

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But will this really make the community safer, or will it merely lead to violent attacks against those offenders classified under the law? Offenders are listed without regards to their crime, thus theoretically a boyfriend convicted of statutory rape because of consensual sex with a younger girlfriend would be listened right next to a pedophile convicted of multiple molestation of children. Is the state's interest in defaming his character to protect the community enough to require such an individual to sacrifice his privacy and register as a sex offender? In Connecticut, convicted offenders must register and provide personal information name, address, photograph, and DNA sample; "notify DPS of any change in residence; and periodically submit an updated photograph. The registration requirement runs for 10 years in most cases; those convicted of sexually violent offenses must register for life" ("Privacy loses to security," 2003, LSU Law Center). The crime the individual has committed is not listed, and the potential use of the list is vague -- will parents avoid living near these children, will employers be able to check such lists -- if the individual is 'safe' enough to be released, is turning them into social pariahs really the best way to make a safer community?

TOPIC: Term Paper on Privacy Law: Requiring Convicted Sex Assignment

Regarding the notion of being 'convicted after serving time,' a similar decision involving Alaska's Megan's Law, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals "accepted the ex post facto argument. In Smith v. Doe, it ruled that Alaska could only apply its registration requirement to persons who committed their crimes after the Megan's Law was adopted" but this was also later (as expected) rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, as for "punitive purposes, then the ex post facto clause is not implicated," as it might be in a contract (Dorf, 2002). The sex offender lists were seen as analogous to how "the state can use the fact of a prior conviction as the basis for confining someone in a mental institution, even after he has completed his prison sentence" (Dorf 2002).

The U.S. Supreme Court made a relatively technical ruling in the Connecticut case, based upon the defendant's invocation of the Due Process Clause. However, questions remain. What about the individual's right to privacy balanced with the needs of the state, especially for convicted sex offenders with a likely low rate of recidivism, such as statutory rape offenders? What about cruel and unusual punishment, given the treatment these individuals are likely to be subject to in their communities, once their status is revealed? If some of these individuals are so dangerous, and have such a high rate of recidivism, a more effective response might be longer sentences for dangerous pedophiles, rather than to create lists that seem to encourage the community to react with violence against sex offenders, without knowing the exact details of their conviction

Works Cited

Dorf, Michael. (8 Oct 2002). "Megan's Law. Copyright, free speech among issues before Supreme Court." CNN.com. Retrieved 9 Feb at 2008 at http://archives.cnn.com/2002/LAW/10/08/findlaw.analysis.dorf.scotus/index.html

Privacy loses to security: The United States Supreme Court rules that states can put sex offenders on the WWW. (Connecticut Dept. Of Public Safety v. Doe, 123 S.Ct. 1160, 71 USLW 4125, 71 USLW 4158." (2003). Biotech Law: LSU. Retrieved 9 Feb at 2008 at http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/pp/cn_v_doe.htm

Smith et al., v. Doe et al. (2003). Findlaw. 2008. Retrieved 10 Feb at 2008 at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=U.S.&vol=000&invol=01-729

U.S. Constitution: Fourteenth Amendment." Findlaw. 2008. Retrieved 9 Feb at 2008 at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment14 [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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