That's the title of an article in the current issue of National Law Journal reported by Pamela MacLean. LINK
The creation of complex sex offender registration systems and increasingly stringent limits on where offenders may live has spawned hundreds of legal challenges in state and federal courts throughout the nation.
The actions range from how long electronic tracking devices must be worn to whether juvenile records must be part of public registrations.
Challenges to the new laws — often hastily passed in the wake of a brutal crime — generally center on battles over who must comply, making retroactivity and prospective treatment crucial.
Takings claims under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution also weigh heavily when a sex offender is forced from a long-time home by newly imposed bans on living near playgrounds or video arcades.
So far, 20 states have laws restricting where sex offenders can live, and hundreds of cities have their own limits, according to Wayne Logan, a criminal law professor at Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee.
The most common laws banish offenders from zones within 2,000 feet of schools and parks.
The Georgia Supreme Court recently struck down a residency restriction on Fifth Amendment grounds, but upheld a portion that barred sex offenders from working in the restricted zones, Logan said. Mann v. Georgia Dept. of Corrections, 282 Ga. 754 (2007).
The California Supreme Court must choose from a raft of theories on how to apply a 2006 voter-approved residency law prospectively. So far, the plaintiffs, the state attorney general, local district attorneys, the governor and state prison officials have all weighed in with different positions. In re E.J. habeas corpus, No. S156933 (Calif.).
But it is Ohio that finds itself in the midst of a legal meltdown because of a shift in sex offender registration law. Ohio rushed to switch from a long-standing state offender registration program to the 2006 federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act registration system.
And the Adam Walsh Act faces federal constitutional challenges. Two federal circuit courts, the 4th Circuit and the 11th Circuit, are now considering whether Congress violated the Constitution's commerce clause in passing the Adam Walsh Act because challengers allege it has no nexus with interstate commerce. U.S. v. Comstock, No. 06-hc-2195BR, and U.S. v. Powers, 07-cr-221KRS.