• Revisiting Alaska's Sex Offender Registration and Public Notification Statute

      Periman, Deborah (University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center, 2009-03)
      This article examines the background and judicial interpretation of Alaska's sex offender registration and public notification statute, the new federal requirements for state sex offender registries and public notice under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, and weaknesses in both Alaska's existing system and the enhanced requirements of the new federal legislation. These weaknesses include: * Absence of incentives for offenders to seek therapy or treatment; * Failure to provide for individualized risk assessment that would differentiate between those offenders who pose a negligible or very low risk of re-offending from those who pose a continuing public risk — a failure that causes unwarranted marginalization of low risk offenders and diminishes the overall effectiveness of the public notification system; * Public notice provisions so broad as to substantially impede offenders' reintegration into their families, their community, and the workforce, and potentially chilling family reporting; * Internet posting requirements associated with severe stigmatization and public harassment, and concomitant emotional destabilization and isolation of offenders — factors that may actually increase the risk of recidivism and community harm. * Because the Walsh Act conditions state receipt of Byrne Grant funds on compliance with its enhanced registration and notice requirements, there is little Alaska can do to remedy the above weaknesses and still remain eligible for Byrne funds. However, the article concludes with a recommendation for limited changes to our statute that would minimize, to the extent possible, its adverse effect on offenders' ability to find employment; omit the lowest risk offenders from internet posting requirements; and provide those incentives for treatment permissible under the Walsh Act.