ACLU of New Mexico Wins Halt to Albuquerque's Second Attempt to Pass a Sex Offender Ordinance

January 5, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- District Court Judge Wendy York has granted the American Civil Liberties Union a temporary restraining order barring implementation of ""ASORNA,"" the Albuquerque Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, the ACLU of New Mexico announced today. 

Signed into law by Mayor Martin Chavez last October, ASORNA would prohibit people convicted of sex crimes dating back to 1970 from being alone in a room with a child or within 30 yards of a child unless the child was their ward, their adopted or biological child, or their biological grandchild.

""No one wants to see dangerous sexual predators roaming free in our communities,"" said Kari Morrissey, a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico. ""But this law treats all people convicted of sexual abuse as if they were imminent threats to society.  It's a waste of resources and it threatens to disrupt the lives of many people who are productive, law-abiding citizens."" 

The law also ignores the fact that most sex offenses against children are committed by family members, she noted.   

Under ASORNA, sex offenders would have to register with the Albuquerque Police Department (in addition to registering with the state's Department of Public Safety), and also could be required to submit samples of their DNA, even though they were not suspected of criminal activity.  In addition, the law would prohibit sex offenders from renting, purchasing, or occupying property within 1,000 feet of a school.  

The restraining order lasts until January 20, when the court will hold an evidentiary hearing for a preliminary injunction.  As recently as last June, the ACLU obtained a permanent injunction against another sex offender law, the Sex Offender Alert Program, passed by the Albuquerque City Council in April 2003.

""Once again, the Mayor and City Council refused to heed our counsel about the glaring constitutional problems in this legislation,"" said Peter Simonson, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Mexico.  ""For the second time in nine months we had to go to court to make our point.  It's a shame that residents of Albuquerque have to pay taxes for such slip-shod lawmaking.""

In addition to Morrissey, cooperating attorneys for the ACLU include Melissa Hill and Eric Hannum.  The complaint lists the ACLU as well as five ""John Doe"" plaintiffs, who wish to remain anonymous to protect against vigilantism. 

Statistics image