Considering the number of sex offender registrants who are listed on government Web sites the recent two killings in Maine seem to be an anomaly. Perhaps the Maine State Police got nervous, fearing a trend…or, what? They pulled the plug on the Maine registry Web site. No authority for doing this is cited in the press or at the State Police site. The Maine sex offender registry statute states that the bureau “shall” maintain a public access site, which seems to leave it up to law enforcement. §11221. Maintenance of sex offender registry:
Public access to information. The bureau shall provide information to the public as follows.
A. The bureau shall post on the Internet for public inspection the following information concerning a registrant:
(1) The registrant’s name, date of birth and photograph;
(2) The registrant’s city or town of domicile and residence;
(3) The registrant’s place of employment and college or school being attended, if applicable, and the corresponding address and location; and
(4) The statutory citation and name of the offense for which the registrant was convicted.
[2003, c. 711, Pt. C, §20 (amd); Pt. D, §2 (aff).]
CourtTV’s Crime Library explores the utility of sex offender registries, their role in vigilantism and the implied admission that the government can’t protect citizens from harm. Read the series.
And the Mullen case, apparently the first involving lethal vigilantism against registered sex offenders, calls into question the safety and effectiveness of that widely used system. Cites, counties and states are bracing for more lawsuits by other sex offenders who feel targeted by the registries. The Mullen murders likely will serve as ammunition for a new round of legal challenges.
John LaFond, the retired law professor, said he found dozens of cases of harassment and assault of sex offenders as a result of registry listings while researching his 2005 book, Preventing Sexual Violence: How Society Should Cope with Sex Offenders.