Court bars state from publishing some sex offenders' data on the Web

The Supreme Judicial Court says the state can't expand its online database of sex offenders with the names of "Level 2" offenders convicted before the governor signed a law to add information on such offenders to the system last year.

In a ruling today, the state's highest court said that adding existing Level 2 offenders to the database - which until last year only listed the Level 3 offenders considered the most dangerous to the public - would be unconstitutionally unfair to them, because the state Sex Offender Registry Board, which maintains the public database, might have ranked them even lower on the dangerous scale:

What shifts the balance in favor of the plaintiff class is that retroactive application would require Internet publication of the registry information of persons who SORB implicitly concluded were not so dangerous that their information needed to be published on the Internet to protect the public safety, and who SORB may have classified as level one offenders if SORB had known that Internet publication would be a consequence of a level two classification. The inequity of retroactively applying the contested amendments to these level two offenders is aggravated by the risk, already attested to in the evidentiary record, that at least some of these offenders "acted in reasonable reliance upon the previous state of the law" in choosing not to challenge their level two classifications specifically because such classifications did not subject them to Internet publication of their registry information.

The law continues an early ban on publicly posting information on Level 1 offenders.

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