Declaration of Sotomayor Pens in the case of sexual assault Angel Ortiz

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor sits during a group photo session of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor sits during a group photo session of the Justices at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 23, 2021.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor write out a statement regarding an order on Tuesday in a case for allegedly stripping a sex offender of constitutional rights. The case revolves around a sex offender who has been released from prison but remains behind bars because he cannot find suitable housing when he is allowed to leave prison.

According to Sotomayor, Angel Ortiz has served most of his prison sentence and is eligible for good time credits – allowing him to be released conditionally under state law. Because he was classified as a “third-degree sex offender,” he had to assure authorities that he would not reside within 1,000 feet of any school. That requirement is based on an interpretation of the law that says “a violator must not knowingly enter or enter any schoolyard.” Since Ortiz and his family (whom he would live with after prison) were from New York City, the most populous major city in the country, this request proved to be an unusual task. feasible, the case revealed.

The broader court apparently concluded that Ortiz’s petition did not raise enough constitutional questions to warrant reconsideration. Sotomayor wrote separately. In her statement, Sotomayor fully respected the court’s decision not to issue a title deed in the case, but she used the opportunity to urge the State of New York to change its policy. on post-prison restrictions for sex offenders.

“I write to emphasize that New York’s residency ban, as applied to New York City, raises serious constitutional concerns,” Sotomayor’s six-page statement argued.

“Ortiz. . . suggested dozens of other release addresses, including many homeless shelters, but [New York’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision] rejected each one,” explained Sotomayor’s statement. “As a result, Ortiz spent the entire 17 months in prison with conditional release.”

Although Ortiz was reportedly released from prison after being denied good time credit because of his housing circumstances, the state later placed him in a so-called “Inpatient Facility”. ” (actually just another state prison) for Ortiz to announce the start of serving a 5-year supervised sentence after serving his prison term.

“Ortiz spent eight months in two of these facilities, where he lived behind a barbed wire fence, in a prison commons, in conditions that closely resembled those he accepted.” his sentence,” the statement noted. “All told, because of New York’s residency ban, Ortiz was imprisoned for two years longer than he could have been.”

In return, Ortiz applied for a written request for habeas but was ultimately frustrated by each New York State court on the grounds that he could not find “appropriate community housing.”

“In fact, it is New York’s policy to require indefinite detention for some outraged people being assessed as sex offenders,” Sotomayor argued. “The 1,000-foot ban on schools makes residency for Ortiz and others practically impossible in New York City, where the city’s density warrants proximity to schools. Instead of tailoring its policies to New York City’s geography or providing shelter options to this group, New York chose to imprison those who cannot afford housing that is suitable for them. all day conditional release and expiration of their maximum sentence. “

Sotomayor concluded that the result of the state’s interpretation of the law was the deprivation of liberties protected by the prohibition of the opportunity to have housing for many offenders who had already paid their debts to society.

“Ortiz may have held the right to liberty at a time when he was entitled to conditional release,” the statement argued – citing state law and two lower court dissidents. . “However, at the very least, Ortiz is undeniably free to release him upon his release from prison.”

And justice said that “requires close scrutiny” of the ban because that practical impact of state law could derail the various forms of constitutional review used to determine issues. such subject matter by the high court.

“New York’s policy of indefinite detention may not be subject to due diligence,” argues Sotomayor – refers to the lowest level of constitutional oversight. “No one doubts that New York’s goal of preventing sexual violence against children is legitimate and compelling, but nonetheless New York must advance it through reasonable means. Courts, law enforcement and academics all acknowledge that residency restrictions do not reduce recidivism and may indeed increase the risk of recidivism.”

Justice then continued, listing numerous citations, studies, and statements from courts, police, and colleges that, in several pages, show that restrictive residency requirements actually drive crime. sex offenders are more likely to re-offend sex.

“[S]College doctors have explained that by deporting individuals back to the margins of society, residency restrictions can lead to homelessness, unemployment, isolation, and other conditions associated with associated with an increased risk of recidivism,” concludes Sotomayor’s survey of the literature.

However, justice admits, rights to sex offenders are not a particularly pervasive cause – or an issue on which public officials are even genuinely willing to change their minds.

“Despite empirical evidence, agencies and legislatures are often not receptive to the plight of sex offenders and their struggles to return to the community,” she notes. their copper. “However, the Constitution protects everyone, and it prohibits the deprivation of liberty based solely on speculation and fear.”

Sotomayor continued: “When the political branches fail to protect these guarantees, the courts must step in, but she also notes that there is no division on the matter that requires the full attention of the court.

Then, in the end, Sotomayor begged politicians in New York to make the change without waiting for nine judges:

New York should not wait for this Court to address the question of whether a State can imprison someone after their parole eligibility date, or even past their mandatory release date, simply because they cannot comply with the restricted residency requirement. I hope that New York will choose to reevaluate its policies in a way that values ​​the constitutional liberal interests of people like Ortiz.

[Image via Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images]

Is there a trick we should know? [email protected] Declaration of Sotomayor Pens in the case of sexual assault Angel Ortiz

James Brien

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