DENVER, Colo. – A group of attorneys general are fighting a 2017 court ruling that declared Colorado’s sex offender registry “cruel and unusual.”
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation regularly posts a list of registered sex offenders online, including their names, pictures, addresses and descriptions. The registry can be accessed by anyone on the Internet.
In August, a federal judge ruled that the public registry is in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Federal Judge Richard Matsch said the public was given “the power to inflict punishments beyond those imposed through the court.”
Now, several attorneys general are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to reverse the decision.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said although the ruling involves only one Colorado case, it has wide-ranging implications for access to sex offender registries nationwide if upheld.
“This ruling undermines the rights of victims and survivors of sex crimes, who must forever endure the trauma caused by horrific acts,” Attorney General Hunter said. “It also obstructs citizen access to public information on sex offenders in their communities and threatens public safety. Registry systems are one of the most cost-effective ways to protect the public while reintroducing sex offenders into society. Parents and victims have the right to know. My attorneys general colleagues in the 10th circuit and I believe the court was wrong to second-guess this policy and the judgement should be reversed.”
Hunter says undoing the registry in one state compromises the integrity of the uniform registry system, and jeopardizes the ability of states to obtain federal funding.