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Court: Some sex offenders don’t need to register in Alaska

August 13, 2018 GMT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that some sex offenders convicted outside the state are not required to register in Alaska.

The court ruled Friday that a strict reading of the 1994 Alaska Sex Offender Registration Act gives the state Department of Public Safety no leeway when deciding if out-of-state sex crimes match offenses under Alaska law, the Juneau Empire reported .

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The public safety department would determine if the names of registered sex offenders who moved to Alaska would be entered into its sex offender database. It used facts from each case to figure out if a conviction matched a crime in Alaska that would require registration.

With the ruling, the department can no longer do that.

“The problem is that the Legislature used specific language when it crafted the statute requiring similarity,” Chief Justice Craig Stowers wrote in a concurring opinion.

A public safety department spokesman referred questions to the state Department of Law, which declined to comment, saying the court opinion being reviewed.

The department had no restrictions in making determinations regarding the registry, said Darryl Thompson, an attorney whose client’s case was one of two that spurred the ruling. The ruling calls for legislative solutions, he said.

“Up to this point in time, the DPS has been basically unfettered,” Thompson said.

Appeals by two people, who were not identified in court documents, were combined before the state Supreme Court. Both were registered as sex offenders outside Alaska. When they entered Alaska, they were required to register, but the state did not have directly similar offenses matching their convictions.

The court ruled last week that both are not required to register.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com