Is the state sex offender registry list unconstitutional?

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- A federal judge in Denver recently ruled in favor of three plaintiffs who said being on the state's registered sex offender list violated their 8th amendment, which prevents cruel and unusual punishment.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is appealing the decision, saying protecting victims is one of the most critically important parts of her job.

David Millard, Eugene Knight and Arturo Vega, the plaintiffs in the case, were convicted of sexual assault against a child. They said people who commit certain sexual assaults shouldn't have to register as a sex offender because it follows them throughout their lives, and says the punishment exceeds the crime.

Grand Junction Defense Attorney Andrew Nolan agrees with the judges ruling.

"I do, I see it, I see it in my practice," said Nolan.

"[The Colorado sex offender registry act] violates the 8th amendment of the US Constitution which is a prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment," said Nolan.

Parents said they're on the list for a reason.

"If you do the crime you do the time, they choose that path to harm children," said Katie Diaz, a mom of two. "I'm sorry but I can't trust them not to harm another child."

Nolan said that there should be a complete overhaul of the sex offender registration act.

"It's a little draconian and heavy handed and punitive," he said. "Instead of giving a mandatory cookie cutter approach apply more of a customized approach," he said.

This judge's ruling could set a precedent.

"I think it'll open the floodgates for all convicted sex offenders to say 'why can't I get off the list, I've been on the list this a long time, let me get off'," said Diaz.

Even though the judge ruled the way he did, it doesn't mean the three plaintiffs are off the sex registration list just yet.

"It gives them standing to go back to state court, and seek post-conviction relief on this issue," said Nolan.

There are several things that can land someone on the sex offender list, from indecent exposure to violent crimes. Offenders can be ordered to be on the list from five years to their entire lives.

The judge and Nolan agree that the registry list does serve a purpose in protecting the public and it's just for the three individuals they say it's unconstitutional.

The next step is for it to go to the 10th Circuit of Appeals. If it gets appealed again, it can go to U.S. Supreme Court.



 
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