OKLAHOMA CITY – An estimated thousands of sex offenders will no longer have to register with the State Department of Corrections. The State Supreme Court ruled their punishments unconstitutional Tuesday.
The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional because the convicted sex offenders were still required to register as sex offenders years after they served their full punishment. Brad Crawford committed a crime that changed his life longer than he ever expected.
“I wish I wouldn’t have done it,” said Crawford.
He says he peeked over a tanning bed salon wall in 1998. At that time, the court required he register as a sex offender for ten years. It’s been 15 years, and he is still registering.
“That’s a price I’m paying,” said Crawford. “I just wish it hadn’t gone this long.”
In 2007, the law changed, requiring sex offenders to register anywhere from 15 years to a lifetime. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections applied that to everyone, even if they were convicted before the law.
“You can’t pass a law today and say something was illegal yesterday,” said Attorney David Slane. “There’s a real due process problem. So when they did that, that’s what became unconstitutional.”
The Supreme Court agrees with Slane. Now, things will change. There are nearly 8,000 sex offenders in our state. Slane estimates 3,000 will be taken off the list. That does cause concern for some, but Slane says he isn’t concerned for anyone’s safety.
“Just because we have them on a list doesn’t mean they can’t commit another crime,” explained Slane.
As for Crawford, the Supreme Court’s ruling means he can move forward.
“That was a happy moment for me,” said Crawford. “I started calling my sister, calling friends.”
The Department of Corrections says it expects to start pulling people from the registry in the next month.