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When Does the Punishment End? (Part Three)

W. Scott Cole

Posted on September 26, 2018 00:04

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The last two weeks, I have discussed the ways society and the law continue to punish felons after they have finished their sentence and supposedly paid their debt to society. This week, I may surprise you by looking at the way some states continue to punish felons through registration (no, I’m not talking about THAT registration. Maybe next week for that one).

Everyone is familiar with the Megan’s laws and the requirements that anyone convicted of a sexual offense must register. But did you know about the other crimes that some states require felons to register for?

Imagine if you were convicted of a low level, minor drug crime, such as possession of meth, and you were required to register with the local police because of that registration and that the registration requirement lasted years past the time when you finished your sentence.

Now imagine that your registration showed up online mixed in with those who are convicted of a sexual crime. Think how easy it would be for anyone looking at that online registry to notice that the registry says “drug conviction” rather than “sexual conviction”.

That’s a scary thought, considering how society looks at those with sexual convictions, isn’t it? It’s also a reality in Kansas. A convicted addict there is required to register for the same reason he went to prison or was on probation…because he was an addict and got caught. Kansas isn’t alone in that requirement. Minnesota, Illinois, and six other states do the same.

It doesn’t stop with drug crimes. If you have been convicted of a white collar crime, don’t plan on moving to Utah. You will have to register. Even for such a minor crime as hiding a motorcycle and claiming it was stolen in order to receive a fraudulent insurance payoff. You land on the same registry in Utah if you have ever been convicted of kidnapping.

California is not the place to live if you have been convicted of arson and want to avoid registries. The same applies to Tennessee is you have a conviction for animal abuse. That registration requirement is now being considered by nine other states. Montana?

If you move there, plan on registering if you have a conviction for homicide, assault with a weapon, aggravated assault, kidnapping, arson or robbery. You should forget about Florida, too. The registration requirements there apply to any felony for a period of five years after the completion of the sentence.

While we are at it, let’s not forget Indiana, which does not require registry for other crimes, but keeps a database of addresses of all homes that have been used for meth production. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision the nightmare that could result for someone who has never been involved with drugs of any kind, but unknowingly buys a house that is listed on the address registry.

It all sounds like the requirements for states to register those convicted of sexual crimes created a really slippery slope, doesn’t it? The worst of it, other than making social outcasts of felons trying their best to be law-abiding, is that it makes sure that anyone on a registry, regardless of their crime, is being punished long after they have served the sentence for their conviction.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on September 26, 2018 00:04

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Source: CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The New York City Council is poised to pass criminal justice reforms that would curtail the...

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