Supreme Ct. Justice Sotomayor tells it “like it is” about people on the registry

Justice Sotomayor’s quotes are taken from here.

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court denied cert in the case of Angel Ortiz, a man with a sexual crime conviction who has been fighting what he believes was unlawful detention by the state of New York, Justice Sonia Sotomayor had some very harsh things to say about New York’s residency restriction laws as they pertain to persons required to register on a sexual offense registry and, conversely, some very good things to say about the rights of registrants. Ortiz was held after his good-time credits release would otherwise have been affected,  held during what would have been his period of community supervision, and then held another ten months after his sentence was completely satisfied because suitable housing could not be found.


“I write to emphasize that New York’s residential prohibition, as applied to New York City, raises serious constitutional concerns. . .”

“In effect, New York’s policy requires indefinite incarceration for some indigent people judged to be sex offenders . . . The within-1,000-feet-of-a-school ban makes residency for Ortiz and others practically impossible in New York City, where the city’s density guarantees close proximity of schools.”

“Ortiz may well have held a liberty interest at the point that he became entitled to conditional release . . . At the very least, however, Ortiz indisputably held a liberty interest in his release at the expiration of his full sentence.”

“New York’s policy of indefinite detention may not withstand even rational-basis review . . . No one doubts that New York’s goal of preventing sexual violence toward children is legitimate and compelling, but New York nonetheless must advance that objective through rational means. Courts, law enforcement agencies, and scholars all have acknowledged that residency restrictions do not reduce recidivism . . . [S]cholars have explained that by banishing returning individuals to the margins of society, residency restrictions may lead to homelessness, unemployment, isolation, and other conditions associated with an increased risk of recidivism . . .”

“Despite the empirical evidence, legislatures and agencies are often not receptive to the plight of people convicted of sex offenses and their struggles in returning to their communities . . . Nevertheless, the Constitution protects all people, and it prohibits the deprivation of liberty based solely on speculation and fear.”


Sandy Rozek

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Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

2 Thoughts to “Supreme Ct. Justice Sotomayor tells it “like it is” about people on the registry”

  1. AvatarTim in WI

    The judge merely points out how the registry is used to bar individuals out of the community. NYC residency restriction would be much more difficult to enforce without the public notice provided by the registry and regimes like it. So simply put the people use the database to banish which serves the same essential purpose as prison and jail. All really highlighted how correct the minority was in Alaska’s registry case.

    However, there is the larger Constitutional issue. NYC operates as its own sovereign jurisdiction, but a place where the people are living under more than Federal & State, the two sole jurisdictional authority recognized by the US CONSTITUTION. Essentially Sotomayor is recognizing the erosion of due processes as a direct result of the enactment of OMNIBUS94.

  2. Avatarw

    Well it only took 59 million years to get to that blatantly obvious truth. And all you really have to figure out is that the people at the helm of the system just try to create more ways to entrap the citizens they convict, especially the innocent ones. The cover-up has no limits when they can legislate any and all solutions to the “problem”.

    Oh, I mean the problem of an infinitely imperfect system that was never meant to be perfect. People were always supposed to be able to win against the state. Even now, the state just can’t grasp that concept. They just keep covering up the mess they made, and will always have all the support they need when the mindless people keep foolishly consenting. They only see this “mess” affecting “offenders” and think about the most violent L&O svu episode they can remember to justify it.

    But when it’s them they may start to think otherwise.

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