Changes in Model Penal Code accepted by ALI Council
By Sandy . . . March 2 the Council of the American Law Institute approved the recommendations for changes to its Model Penal Code as pertains to the management of sexual crimes and the sex offender registry. The recommendations which were approved were modified from the committee’s final draft due to pressure from various entities.
The recommendations have been years in the making, and when the final draft was completed and released in late 2021, it created and polarized three distinct groups.
Many advocate and anti-registry groups, including NARSOL, as well as many individual advocates, supported the proposals as important steps toward the ultimate goal of abolishment of the registry.
The U.S. Dept. of Justice and a majority of our states’ attorneys general opposed the changes and wanted the MPC to remain the same, claiming that weakening the laws would put the nation’s children as risk.
Other anti-registry groups also opposed the recommendations on the grounds that they did not go far enough in abolishing the registry altogether.
ALI’s original recommendations centered around four areas: limiting registerable offenses to the more dangerous ones, providing registry access to law enforcement only, modifying registration terms and abolishing lifetime registration and registration of minors, and abolishing blanket restrictions that curtail all registrants’ rights and freedoms.
The protests of those who oppose the changes altogether focused primarily on the first area, and it is there that changes were made. ALI originally proposed only five offenses be eligible for registration, and they modified it to include eleven. The issues as they were approved are given here and used with permission from the ACSOL website:
The offenses include (1) sexual assault by aggravated physical force or restraint, (2) sexual assault by physical force, (3) sexual assault of an incapacitated person, (4) sexual assault of a vulnerable person, (5) aggravated offensive sexual contact, (6) sexual assault of some minors, (7) incestuous sexual assault of a minor, (8) exploitative sexual assault of a minor, (9) fondling some minors, (10) aggravated offensive sexual contact with a minor under 18 and actor is more than 5 years older and (11) sex trafficking.
Individuals convicted of a registerable offense would be required to register a maximum of 15 years which could be reduced to 10 years for some individuals. In order to qualify for the 10-year registration period, an individual must not re-offend as well as comply with parole, probation or supervised release conditions.
The ALI Council approved the elimination of public registries and would limit most disclosures of information on the registry to law enforcement. Registry information could be available upon application to adult victims and parents of minor victims, as well as qualified public and private organizations that work with minors, the elderly, the disabled and other vulnerable populations.
Included in the MPC approved by the ALI Council are prohibitions in most cases regarding residency restrictions, access to schools and access to the internet. These prohibitions can only be waived after an evidentiary showing that there are special circumstances in that case and only for a limited period of time.
Due to the changes from the committee’s original draft, it will go back to the membership at the meeting in May for their approval of the changes.
NARSOL still supports the recommendations. They are stepping stones toward the end goal. The next step will be for state legislatures to adopt them.