In John Doe v. State of Alaska, Dep’t of Safety, the Alaska Supreme Court recently held that portions of the Alaska Sex Offender Registry Act (ASORA) are unconstitutional. In a close 3-2 decision, the court ruled that the registry provides no means for offenders to demonstrate that they are no longer a threat to public safety, and as such, violates their due process rights. It would follow then that offenders must be given an opportunity to prove they are rehabilitated.
John Doe moved to Alaska in 2003, after being previously convicted of sexual battery in Virginia in 2000. He had been sentenced to five years in prison (time suspended) and five years of probation. He also had to register as a sex offender under Virginia law. Upon moving to Alaska, he registered as a sex offender immediately and again registered the following two years. However, when the state told him he had to register quarterly for life, he refused. Upon being convicted of second-degree failure to register as a sex offender, he filed suit against the state.
In his lawsuit, Doe claimed Alaska had no authority to require him to register in Alaska and that the Alaska law violated his due process rights. The court agreed, in part, stating that while Alaska’s requirements for registering were, in fact, constitutional for out-of-state offenders, the statute violates due process by not allowing offenders to prove they no longer pose a risk. In its reasoning for the implementation of an individualized risk-assessment hearing, the court stated: “[i]f [an offender] can show … that he does not pose a risk requiring registration, then there is no compelling reason requiring him to register, and the fact that ASORA does not provide for such a hearing means that the statute is unnecessarily broad.”
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The impacts of decisions like this on background screening could be far-reaching. Contact Hire Image to learn more about our Sex Offender Registry Searches and whether they should be added to your own background screening practices.