Kansas High Court holds Offender Registration Act not meant to be a punishment

FILE - Kansas Supreme Court
FILE - Kansas Supreme Court(WIBW)
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Supreme Court has held its decision, four years after it was made, that the Kansas Offender Registration Act is not meant to be a punishment.

The Kansas Supreme Court says in the case of Appeal No. 119,759: State of Kansas v. Lonnie A. Davidson, it rejected Davidson’s challenge to the Kansas Offender Registration Act. This reaffirmed the Court’s holding in State v. Petersen-Beard, that KORA is not meant as a punishment.

The Court said it held mandatory lifetime postrelease registration under KORA is not considered a punishment for purposes of applying provisions of the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Justice Melissa Standridge agreed with the result based on principles of stare decisis and noted the only change since Petersen-Beard was decided was the composition of the court.

Justice Eric Rosen dissented from the majority’s decision and reiterated his longstanding opinion that KORA’s registration requirements are punishment and concluded that retroactive application of the registration requirements to Davidson violated the ex post facto clause.

The Court said in a separate case, Appeal No. 119,796: State of Kansas v. N.R., it held in a majority opinion that the Kansas Offender Registration Act’s mandatory lifetime registration provisions that were applied to a registered juvenile sex offender are also not considered a punishment for the purposes of applying the ex post facto clause and the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as section 9 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.

The Court said the majority further held that such provisions as applied to the child offender do not infringe on his due process rights under the Kansas Constitution.

In 2006, the Court said N.R. was 14-years-old when he was adjudicated on a rape charge. At that time, it said the magistrate judge ordered he only be required to register locally as an offender for five years.

However, in 2011, the Court said the Kansas Legislature amended KORA in a way that N.R. was then required to public register as an offender for life.

The Court said the majority rejected N.R.’s arguments that such requirements violated ex post facto, constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated his state constitutional due process rights.

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