Sex-offender registry faces challenge.
March 9, 2001
A new challenge to the sex-offender registry law
focuses on whether Massachusetts' 17,000 offenders should be
required to register with local police departments before they have
had a hearing to determine whether they are dangerous to the
Representing the offenders yesterday before the Supreme Judicial
Court, attorney Carol Donovan argued the law violates the offenders'
constitutional rights by allowing police to create "a list of perennial
suspects" they can consult any time a sex crime is committed in their
cities or towns.
Donovan said the lists would create a potential for harassment of
"innocent" offenders - such as people convicted of statutory rape
because they engaged in consensual sex when they were teenagers -
even if they had lived law-abiding lives for years since their
"The majority, the vast majority, of these people are no longer
dangerous," Donovan told the seven justices of the SJC.
Assistant Attorney General Jane Willoughby, defending the
Legislature's latest version of the registry law, countered that the
information would be used responsibly by police and is an effective
tool to safeguard the public.
"If a person is convicted of statutory rape for having sex with a girl
as a teenager, the police aren't going to waste their time questioning
him about a molestation of a boy by a perpetrator who doesn't match
his description," Willoughby said after the court session.
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Source: Boston Herald, by David Weber