More Than 400 Convicted Sex Offenders Now Off State Registry 

Over the past decade, the Maine Legislature has made a number of changes to Maine’s sex offender registry requirements. But according to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, not all of these changes have been constitutional.Last December, the court ruled that some changes made to the sex offender registry had gone a little too far. “There are very few offenses where you would escape the registration requirement,” says Attorney General Janet Mills, “the only constitutional question that has arisen, the only legitimate one, was the ex post facto one, where they tried retroactively applying the law.”Some convicted sex offenders who had already been sentenced were told their sentence had changed. Instead of being required to register as a sex offender in their communities for 10 or 15 years, they had to register for life. The Maine Civil Liberties Union was part of the group that challenged the new laws being applied retroactively. “You can’t create new punishments for activities that have already happened,” says Zachary Heiden, a legal director for the MCLU, “the cumulative affect of the legislature’s actions were punishment for people for offenses they had already committed, and the constitution says you can’t do that.”The Maine Supreme Judicial Court agreed and lawmakers in Augusta came up with a solution:A. If an offender has only one prior conviction for a sex offense.B. Was convicted of that offense between 1982 and 1999C. Has been out of jail for at least 10 years D. Has not been convicted of a felony in at least 10 yearsThey can petition the Maine Department of Public Safety to be removed from the sex offender registry. According to the state bureau of identification, more than 400 people have been taken off the registry since December.State officials say moving forward, Maine’s laws governing the sex offender registry will be both constitutional and strict. “Nobody should think when they plead guilty, or are found guilty of a sex offense in Maine, that they can escape the registration requirement. Nobody.”