Opinion: Alaska Supreme Court ruling on sex offender registry won’t make Alaska less safe

Opinion: Alaska Supreme Court ruling on sex offender registry won’t make Alaska less safe

It’s strikes a good balance.

  • Saturday, July 20, 2019 8:49pm
  • Opinion

As a former prosecutor, I am writing to offer my thoughts about the opinion of the Alaska Supreme Court in John Doe v. State of Alaska, Supreme Court No. S16748.

On June 14, the Supreme Court issued a decision that preserves the Alaska Sex Offender Registry Act (ASORA). The court denied John Doe’s request to be released from his requirement to register as a sex offender because he had been convicted for a sex crime in another state. The court also denied his request to declare the ASORA unconstitutional.

ASORA still exists, and recently, there were 3,531 entries on the list. A wide range of crimes require registration, from murder in the course of a sexual offense to distributing indecent material to minors, known as “sexting.” ASORA continues to require the Department of Public Safety to maintain a central registry of sex offenders which is accessible to the public. It is worth noting that sex offenders are not required to register until they are released from prison, which means they are in our communities.

The Supreme Court, through its opinion in John Doe, established a right for sex offenders to file a separate civil lawsuit for removal from the registry. In order to be removed, sex offenders will have to prove they no longer pose a risk to the public. The Supreme Court noted that a majority of states already provide sex offenders with the right to these types of hearings. The Supreme Court acknowledged that the superior court will have to develop the individualized risk assessment hearings, with input from the parties and expert witnesses. Even though the opinion did not specifically address whether victims will have the right to participate in the hearings, I hope the superior court will provide that right to victims.

Chief Justice Joel Bolger and Justice Craig Stowers raised genuine concerns about the opinion in their dissenting opinion. I share many of their concerns and I am concerned the superior court is already overwhelmed by its caseload. I anticipate many sex offenders will seek to be removed from the registry, which will stress the limited resources of the Alaska Court System and the Department of Law.

Ultimately, I do not believe that the Supreme Court’s opinion in John Doe makes Alaska less safe. Rather, sex offenders now have significant incentive to rehabilitate themselves in order to have a chance at removal from the registry. The opportunity for sex offenders to have a chance at removal from the registry strikes an appropriate balance between the need to protect the public and the principle of reformation.

Clint Campion is in private practice as a member of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC. He served as a state prosecutor for nine years, including three years as the Anchorage District Attorney. He previously served as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army for nine years. Editorial submissions and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Clarion.


• Clint Campion is in private practice as a member of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC. He served as a state prosecutor for nine years, including three years as the Anchorage District Attorney. He previously served as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army for nine years. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

t
Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened