U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin, in an order issued late Friday, blasted the state's continuing refusal to provide due process hearings before imposing restrictive sex-offender conditions on felons never convicted of a sex crime. (My emphasis.)Even better:
Yeakel for the first time ruled that the seven-member state Board of Pardons and Paroles, 12 parole commissioners, state parole director Stuart Jenkins and other parole officials can face monetary damages for their actions....Background: A man was indicted on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child but convicted and sentenced to 25 year for drug charges, not the sexual assault charge. The state tried to put this man on the registry but was blocked by the judge because he had not been convicted of a sex crime. In the decision that this man could sue for damages, the judge said,
The order was the latest setback for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and state corrections officials, who have insisted for years that, to ensure public safety, they could impose the stringent conditions on parolees without a due process hearing.
"Any stigmatic injury suffered by [this man] due to the imposition and continued enforcement of Special Condition X [the sex offender registry and restrictions] may entitle [this man] to compensatory damages.""Stigmatic injury." Think about that for a moment. The judge acknowledges that the sex offender registry and the restrictions that come with it inflict "stigmatic injury."
It is good to see that possibility recognized, though it comes as no surprise to those who have to live with the registry. The stigma falls on the sex offender's family, as well, so for all who think the registry is there to protect children, how do you square this?