Alan Woe, which by the way isn't his real name but just a name given to him so he can remain unknown in the court papers, thinks that sex offender registration is a punishment, rather than a 'tool for community safety'. So, he filed suit against the state of New York, based upon his claims.
The offender, a Brookhaven resident who was given the pseudonym "Alan Woe" in court papers and who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, had sued over a 2006 change that extended the length of time sex offenders must register. The change, the suit argued, unfairly deprived them of due process.
The registration time for Level 1 offenders was increased from 10 to 20 years, while Level 2 and 3 offenders are now registered for life. Level 2 offenders may petition for removal from the registry after 30 years.
The changes were enacted three days before the man, a Level 1 offender, would have reached 10 years on the registry, according to the lawsuit.
Aww... poor sex offender.
Now, before everyone starts feeling safe again, there's one possible snag in the ruling that the defense would like to believe opens Pandora's Box for all level one offenders.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the Level 1 offender did not have a right to have a 10-year period on the registry. Wexler noted that Level 3 and 2 offenders can petition to be downgraded to Level 2 and 1, respectively.
It is this potential "door-opening," said the lawyer who filed the suit, that counts as a victory because it possibly could give Level 1 offenders the right to petition to be removed from the registry before a 20-year period ends.
"For the first time, this judge's decision holds that sexual offenders have constitutional rights and that those rights can be enforced in court," said John Ray, the offender's lawyer, at a news conference at his Miller Place office yesterday.
Whether the legal community will follow through on this line of thinking or not is still open for debate- but I'm sure that it is a ruling that is going to get a good deal of attention from both sides, sex offenders and safety advocates alike.