Automatically making juvenile sex offenders register with law-enforcement agencies for life and putting their names and photos on the Internet are cruel and unusual punishments, the Ohio Supreme Court said yesterday, in another rebuke of the state's sex-offender law, the Columbus Dispatch reports. In a 5-2 decision, justices said lifelong registration and notification requirements for certain juveniles, even if they can be lifted after 25 years, are “extraordinary.”
“It will be a constant cloud, a once-every-three-month reminder to himself and the world that he cannot escape the mistakes of his youth,” Justice Paul Pfeifer wrote. The high court struck down parts of Ohio's 2007 Adam Walsh Act, ruling that it unconstitutionally limits judges' discretion by imposing a punishment that “lasts far longer than the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.” It was the court's third significant blow to the law in less than two years. Justices in 2010 ruled that the reclassification of 19,000 offenders went against the separation-of-powers doctrine, and in 2011 said the law violated the prohibition against retroactive criminal punishment, which affected 7,000 offenders.