ALERT: for Tesday, January 26, 2016 NH State House Hearings

SB-468 –  changes in SO registry - Action: 2016-01-13 - Hearing: 01/26/2016, Room 100, State House, 09:15 am; Senate Calendar 2.  We need a strong showing of opposition to attend this hearing on Tuesday, January 26, at 9:15 AM - READ MORE

SB-468 is an attempt by Senator Jeb Bradley to address the recent NH Supreme Court decision, John Doe v. NH.  If passed it would provide the similar  opportunity that Tiers I and II now have, in that people convicted prior  to the establishment of the sex offender registry (1994) may petition the court for removal from the entire registry.

As an organization we believe the Supreme Court didn’t go far enough. While the Court pointed out various punitive Constitutional issues with he registry they placed the burden on the plaintiff to prove he would no longer pose a threat.  What CCJR opposes is what we oppose for the first two tiers;  it places a “financial burden on the registrant to hire an attorney, to hire a psychologist, to possibly pay for a treatment program is laid upon the very persons whose civil rights are being violated. Clearly, under this scheme, only a few wealthy registrants will ever be able to afford to avoid lifetime registration.” 

The Supreme Court decision didn’t address post 1994 convictions and neither does Bradley.  It provides no help to Tier III registrants convicted after the establishment of the registry even though our own Supreme Court  found the State’s sex offender registry unconstitutional.

CCJR believes the Bradley bill does not go far enough and places an overwhelming and unrealistic financial burden on the registrant.  - SB-468-FN Text   CURRENT LAW

CCJR is sponsoring our own bill HB-1343 that would prohibit the retroactive application of the registry.   Retroactive Application Prohibited.  A sexual offender or offender against children who is required to register pursuant to this chapter shall be subject to the registration laws in effect at the time of the offense requiring registration.   If passed that would mean that if there wasn't a public registry at the time of the conviction a registrant would only be required to file with the police.   Every change in the registry who only apply to those convicted after said change.  Date ofr this hearing has not been set.

Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform recommends the Committee find SB 468 inexpedient to legislate. On its face the law is unconstitutional.  Its enactment will further violate the civil rights of registered citizens and will result in costly litigation for the state. Last year, in Doe v. New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found the state's Registry of Criminal Offenders to be an ex post facto violation as applied to the plaintiff in that case, and by implication to many others. The court noted the state's registry has evolved over the past two decades, becoming ever more intrusive and onerous. The court declined to say at which point the registry actually became punitive.

This proposed law assumes the retroactive application of the 1994 law establishing a registry is the only ex post facto violation in New Hampshire's registry scheme. But, from the Doe decision, it is just as likely that the 2002 establishment of an Internet registry, or the numerous new requirements laid upon registrants by the 2008 Child Predator Act would also fail an ex post facto test when applied retroactively. This law will not put the issue to rest.

Far from it, this law will only throw fuel on the fire. In Doe, the Court found that a lifetime registration requirement was excessive if the registrant no longer poses a meaningful risk to the public. In such cases, lifetime registration becomes wholly punitive. Although pop-culture likes to depict sex offenders as incurables, the actual risk of a registered individual reoffending is low. After 15 years of offense-free life, a registrant's risk of committing another sexual offense falls to that of the average adult male in America. The simple fact is, a majority of those on the registry will never reoffend. The imposition of lifetime registration requirements upon these individuals only serves to further punish them for their past offenses.

Furthermore, the proposed law imposes absurd requirements on those few Tier III offenders whom it allows to petition for removal from the registry.  The financial burden to hire an attorney, to hire a psychologist, to possibly pay for a treatment program is laid upon the very persons whose civil rights are being violated.  Clearly, under this scheme, only a few wealthy registrants will ever be able to afford to get off of the registry. The poor will have to register for life whether it benefits the public or not. Restoration of civil rights should not be dependent upon ability to pay.

Finally, the provision that victim impact statements are to be considered by the court when deciding whether to exempt a former offender from lifetime registration, only serves to prove that the purpose of the registry is unconstitutionally punitive. What possible bearing can the recounting of long past offenses have on a judge's decision whether or not a registrant has been rehabilitated? Insertion of such emotional testimony into what should be a dispassionate, evidence-driven process, can only be seen as inviting judges to decide whether the offender has been punished enough for his past acts.

HB 1216 - Support 3 - Hearing: Jan 26 @ 2:00 PM in Legislative Office Building 208
Action: 2016-01-20 - Public Hearing: 01/26/2016 02:00 PM Legislative Office Building 208  a bill requiring public bodies and agencies to provide information which is not regularly kept or reported, upon payment by the requestor. The bill closes a loophole in the Right to Know Law and forces Corrections to give Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform data it seeks on the backlog in the sex offender program. 

  • CCJR has worked with Rep. James Verschueren, the prime sponsor of HB 1216, to amend it into a simpler and shorter bill. The new version he will introduce on Jan. 26 allows people to seek and pay for detailed information only from state agencies, and not from town, county and city programs. The Department of Corrections has refused to give Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform any information on the backlog in the sex offender treatment program, after its commissioner promised to provide that information last January. We plan to tell lawmakers what has happened in a program that failed a 2012 report by the Office of Budget Assistant because so many sex offenders were serving time well beyond their minimum sentences. This happened in some cases despite court orders to reduce the minimum sentences of prisoners if they just took the sex offender training program in time.