Due Process: Another one bites the dust
By Kyle . . . We are witnessing a disturbing trend in America of punishing people after they have completed their official court-imposed sentence for an offense or even before any criminal charges have been filed and a person has been convicted of a crime.
In the arena of sex offenses, this manifests in several ways. Indefinite civil commitment-habeas corpus anyone? Registration beyond the term of the sentence. Registration results in numerous harms which clearly constitute “punishment”: serious housing restrictions; movement restrictions; domestic travel restrictions, making travel for business and pleasure a nightmare; employment challenges; and now, passport markings (A Scarlet Letter) because of the International Megan’s Law in conjunction with Angel Watch. This is not only “compelled speech” (as it is for registration in general) but restricts one’s ability to travel freely internationally for business or pleasure.
All of this is based upon a perceived, theoretical (and very inaccurate, skewed) risk of POTENTIAL FUTURE sexual criminal offending, a la the pre-crime of the movie Minority Report.
Additionally, the U.S. Federal Government refuses to issue a passport to anyone with an outstanding federal tax debt of at least $50,000.00, this before any criminal charges have been filed or a person has been convicted of a tax crime. Again, potential future crimes. Of course, they fear the person may flee the country and never return to settle the tax debt. Fair enough, but if that is the case, then charge them, arrest them, and try them; else, leave them alone.
Innocent until proven guilty? Not any longer in America apparently.
What this really comes down to are understandings of just what constitutes unconstitutional, compelled speech and whether domestic and international travel restrictions, housing restrictions, movement restrictions, etc., aren’t actually criminal punishment rather than just civil administrative, public safety policies.
You could even throw in the restrictions of a former felon with no violent weapon offense being forever banned from owning guns for personal protection, in violation of the Second Amendment. We know from 35 years of data that the argument of public safety holds no water. Given that, these can be seen as nothing less than intentional, vindictive criminal punishment (restrictions of constitutional rights) beyond the terms of the sentence without due process?
Does placing these types of restrictions on people past the terms of their original sentence or without any legal proceedings or due process constitute “punishment” rather than just “inconvenience”? I believe it clearly does. These types of extra-legal punishments need to be litigated out of existence or legislatively abolished. Failing that, it is a sad joke to call America a free country where all citizens enjoy protected, constitutional rights.
Kyle is a person required to register on the sex offender registry in Colorado.