MariCo attorney behind push to slightly loosen sex offender registry law




Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr

More sex offenders would become eligible to have their names removed from the Arizona’s sex offender registry but would face new hurdles in doing so, under legislation being pushed by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

But some criminal justice reform advocates oppose the bill, saying it may actually make it harder for people to get off of the registry.

Currently, all people convicted of most sex crimes must register as a sex offender. Anyone convicted of sexual contact with a minor who is at least 15 years old can petition the courts to be removed from the registry, provided he or she meets a number of criteria. The sexual contact must have been consensual, the offender must have been no older than 22 years old at the time of the offense, and the offender must not have violated probation or committed another sex-related felony.

House Bill 2613 would slightly expand the list of offenses for which someone would be eligible for removal from the sex offender registry. The bill would amend the statute to include situations involving law enforcement officers or others who pose as a 15, 16 or 17-year-old, and to any other offense in which the victim was at least 15 years.

The bill would also add new requirements for anyone who wants to be removed from the registry. They must be at least 35 years old, and cannot have been convicted of more than one offense involving more than one victim. The bill specifically excludes a host of offenses, including sexual assault, child molestation, child prostitution, child sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of a minor. The bill would keep in place a pre-existing exclusion for anyone deemed by the court to be sexually violent.

Under current law, an offender must not have committed another sex crime in order to be eligible for removal from the registry. HB2613 would change the law so that an offender must only have been without new sex crimes for at least 10 years.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, said he sponsored the bill at Montgomery’s request. He ran similar legislation in 2018. The House Judiciary Committee will hear the bill on Wednesday.

Montgomery said the legislation reflects years of data and research regarding less serious offenders.

“What you see in the bill reflects review of research and what we think is a fair approach to giving people who are in that right offender profile an opportunity to have that requirement lifted,” he said. “Those are all specific data points that the research tells us, if you have someone who committed this particular type of offense and they are this age with this amount of time or they haven’t reoffended, there’s no danger to public safety if they’re not required to register.”

But it’s unclear exactly what new offenders would become eligible to be removed from the registry if HB2613 passes. Amanda Steele, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, told the Mirror that it would apply to anyone who meets the eligibility criteria, but didn’t say what other offenses would meet those criteria. Montgomery said he doesn’t know how many people would be affected by the proposed law.

Some criminal justice advocates say the bill may actually do more harm than good.

Charity Clark, a defense attorney who primarily handles sex crimes cases and is a member of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a reform advocacy group, said the new requirement that someone be at least 35 years old to be eligible for removal is a problem, considering that they must be no older than 22 at the time of the offense, and in many cases are only 18 or 19 years old when they’re charged for crimes that occured while they were minors.

Clark said HB2613 adds very few people to the list of offenders who can get their names of the sex offender registry. And even some of those who are eligible on paper may not be eligible in reality. While the bill explicitly applies to people convicted of offenses involving law enforcement or others who falsely pose as teenagers, Clark said such offenders are often charged under child sex trafficking statutes, which would make them ineligible to get off the registry. And Clark said teenagers who engage in “sexting” are sometimes charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, a charge exempted by Bowers’s bill.

“While it appears that this is trying to expand the ability for individuals to terminate registration, a lot of the added language undoes any expansion that there would be,” Clark said. “I think it would wind up making it harder to get off the list.”

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. Lol, they want to let sex offenders off The Sex Register, I would definitely like to know if there is a sexual predator living in my community. But they have a hard time letting out nonviolent offenders and shortening their time doesn’t seem right

    • Lol, they don’t even put all kinds of criminals on a Criminal Register. I would definitely like to know if there is a burglar, bank robber, drunk driver, wife beater, murderer, child killer, etc etc living in my community.
      But they have a hard time protecting me and my children from those criminals. Doesn’t seem right.

    • Registries never should have existed in the first place. But Amerika has always been a hateful place, for our entire history. Registries are just a continuation of it.

      Law enforcement would rather keep lists of people who did something wrong years and decades ago instead of actually trying to work and prevent crimes. Lists are just so much easier and great theater.

  2. The above response is one of the most typical type of perceptions people have on the registry—people on the registry. This makes reason for why the laws should allow a “non-predator” (if that makes Katrina and company feel better) to be removed. Many people miss the fact that there are almost a million registrants at this time. Many families are torn apart because a mom or a dad had a relationship twenty years ago that was deemed registry ex post facto and now the family is hurting due to income and neighbor disenfranchising. A registry even makes property values go down because fear dominates reason.

    Crimes involving sexually related elements are not ALL crimes involving minors. If you want a list to look at on line, to see who is living in your neighborhood, would it not be great to have one of the drug thugs selling to your underage child and trading for such. Registrants and even those who have exploitative crimes that were adjudicated only probation are all less of a threat to society than any other criminal category. A registrant has a 3.5 to 6% chance of re-committing another crime*. All other crimes are much higher. So in essence, a registrant is least likely to recidivism than any other type of felon.

    > Risk perception may not be about quantifiable risk so much as it is about immeasurable fear. Our fears are informed by history and economics, by social power and stigma, by myth and nightmares. And as with other strongly held beliefs, our fears are dear to us. When we encounter information that contradicts our beliefs, we tend to doubt the information, not ourselves.

    — Eula Biss — On Immunity

    *https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/rsorp94.pdf

  3. If he actually wanted a bill that “reflects review of research” he would be pushing to abolish the registry. It’s well documented that 97% of sex crime is committed by those not on the registry, a figure unchanged from the pre-public registry days. Those registered have the lowest recidivism rates other than murderers, a remarkable statistic considering all the excessive restrictions applicable to them (which are eerily similar to Hitler’s treatment of Jews or the Japanese internment camps during WWII). When they are arrested it’s almost always for parole, probation, or registry violations.

    Nor does it serve a law enforcement purpose. There’s nothing on it that’s not immediately available in scores of other databases accessed in routine detective work. The registry has never played a role in the investigation or arrest of any crime other than failure to report or update. It’s the first thing consulted in Amber Alerts and missing child reports and the only thing ever accomplished is delaying the apprehension of the actual culprit, most often the non-custodial parent or a family friend who – big surprise – was not a registrant.

    The state spends millions on the registry every year and gets absolutely nothing in return. It’s stated purposes are community safety and recidivism prevention, and yet has no effect on either. Sex crime still occurs, and nearly always by those not on the registry. The small handful of exceptions don’t justify the registry’s existence.

  4. Not laughing – the registry holds people who; dated in school but had different ages, those arrested for public urination, and those ensnared by police trained to talk sex to any young horny man. I do not want to know about these people who are in my neighborhood. I want to know if there is a serial rapist! Putting these other people on the registry waters down the value of this information. And making this all public only leads to hate crimes and discrimination.

    • There is no value to the information.

      What use is knowing if a person who raped in the past lives 5 doors down from you? When the person who lives right next door to you is raping today.

      Further, do you think the person 5 doors down is going to worry if you know about his past or not? Or care? Pretty sure a rapist isn’t going to care much about that. If you can identify any neighbor who tries to rape you, THAT is the problem for them. Not whether or not you know they did it before.

      And don’t you think such a person would be a lot more worried about his/her DNA held by big government? No? If they aren’t, why do you think they’d choose to rape anywhere near where they are Registered? As opposed to 1,000 miles from there?

      The Registries are ridiculous nonsense that no one needs. They aren’t useful either. Best case is they would tell you about a person who had $EX with a child in the past. Then you could watch out for him/her trying to have $EX with YOUR children. But really, that isn’t necessary at all either. Because again, your next door neighbor could be having $EX with children today, as opposed to decades ago. So you are probably going to have to try to keep all people from having $EX with your children.

      It’s nonsense. If it isn’t, where are the rest of the Registries?

  5. If the sex offender registry is constitutional because it protects the public, I have always wondered why the same registration is not required for all criminals. Is House Speaker Rusty Bowers not interested in protecting all from all crime?

    I mean, how is it possible that someone with a 17 year old girlfriend is a danger to society, but someone who kills or robs or beats a 7 or 77 year old is not? You can chain a 15 year old to your radiator and feed them dog feces, but hug and kiss them makes you a danger to society?

    This amendment is just busy work. So a 22 year old with a 17 year old girlfriend CAN get off, but 23 year old with a 17 year old girlfriend, not so much?

    If these people are to be registered, I demand that all criminals be registered. If registration improves public safety, let’s do it for all. I NEED to know about all criminals in my neighborhood. No, I have the RIGHT to. Don’t I?

    Why let non-serious sex offenders “off” after a few decades of life crushing restrictions when not requiring very serious non-sex offenders to register at all? How does that make sense, House Speaker Rusty Bowers?

    • If the state notifies people of sex offenders living in their neighborhoods, but does’t notify you about a person who beat his wife to a pulp living next door, wouldn’t it open the state up to lawsuits?? The state notifies you of one possible harm, but doesn’t tell you about the other harm just because they don’t think its necessary? I don’t get it! If i’m driving down the road and the state fails to notify me of a dangerous construction area just like they do for every other dangerous construction area and I die because of inadequate signage, my estate is suing them. The same should be for the dangerous wife beater next door to you. The state knew of a possible danger but failed to tell me like they do for a sex offender. I will never understand how all these criminals just walk away from their past after they finished their punishments, but sex offenders are marked for life. Full disclosure: brother of a registrant. Registries need to end. They don’t work and when more of the public end up with family members stuck on a registry, more of the people will say the same thing. End the registry madness.

  6. The $EX Offender Registries ($ORs) serve no legitimate public safety or law enforcement purpose. The purpose of the $ORs is for gossip, to grow Nanny Big Government (NBG) bigger, help politicians, fuel the outrage media, and enable and promote punishment/harassment/restrictions, including by private businesses, throughout all of Amerika. THAT is the use of the $ORs.

    People who think the $ORs “work” or do anything beneficial, are completely uninformed. Today, there are no people who are actually serious about public safety or protecting children who support the $ORs. None.

    Empirical evidence from actual reality, and not Registry Fantasyland, proves that the $ORs have not been useful. But it can be shown by simple examples as well. Say that you have two neighbors – one is listed on the $ORs and one is not. Which one has committed more $EX crimes? Which one is more dangerous today? You don’t have the first clue. Can you treat either of them any differently and still be protecting you and/or your family? Clearly not. So what has your $OR knowledge done for you? Nothing. All it will do is allow immoral people to gossip and ostracize the Registered person and his/her family. Obviously the $ORs are not something that moral people need.

    Yet while the $ORs are not needed or significantly beneficial, they are gravely harming all of Amerika. They are responsible for widespread hate. Everyone needs to embrace and love that.

    Remember that “if you see something, say something” nonsense? Forget it. The NBG criminal regimes have proven that they are immoral. They are not the solution. F them and their harassment “databases”.

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