NACDL recognizes that sex offenses and child sexual abuse cause great pain and suffering to victims and their families. However, it is important that our society’s vigor in this regard does not impair the need to make criminal justice policy decisions based upon facts, sound scientific research, and evidence, giving due consideration to the rights of both complainants and offenders.
NACDL opposes sex offender registration and community notification laws but also believes that if such laws are passed they should classify offenders based upon true risk, with full due process of law. NACDL believes that a determination of offender risk must be based upon the individual characteristics of the offender and not solely on the offense for which the offender was convicted
On December 29, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that lifetime sex offender registration for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional under the ex post facto, cruel and unusual punishment and due process provisions of the federal and Pennsylvania constitutions. See the opinion here.
On March 22, 2016, NACDL submitted comments to the American Law Institute (ALI) regarding proposed revisions to the sexual assault and related provisions of the Model Penal Code (MPC). As explained in NACDL’s comments: “The current draft on sexual assault and related offenses would perpetuate the disturbing tendency to dilute intent requirement in the criminal law, and would take that trend into an area of the law that carries grave and life-altering penalties. Yes means yes and no most certainly means no. But between yes and no lies the very real but vague and ambiguous concept of maybe. No person should face prosecution, conviction and imprisonment based upon a vague and ambiguous law.”
Links to resources on sex offenses and possible reform are available below: