AG Knudsen Calls on ALI to Reject Policies That Would Undermine Public Safety

AG Knudsen Calls on ALI to Reject Policies That Would Undermine Public Safety

HELENA – Attorney General Austin Knudsen today called on the American Law Institute (ALI) to reject proposed changes to its model penal code that would undermine Montana’s sex offender registry law and efforts to combat human trafficking.

Attorney General Knudsen and 36 other attorneys general sent a letter to ALI in opposition of their proposed changes to Article 213 of the Model Penal Code: Sexual Assault and Related Offenses which would favor criminals at the expense of victims of serious crimes. The Model Penal Code is a model act designed to push states toward adopting its provisions. While Montana law does not follow the Model Penal Code, weakening the law in other states could make it more difficult for Montana to hold sexual predators accountable.

“There have been concerted efforts around the country to undermine law enforcement and enact pro-criminal policies. We reject those efforts in Montana, but what happens in other states affects ours,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “Criminals are not bound by state lines. If ALI’s proposed changes are eventually adopted by other states, it will directly undermine our mission to shut down human trafficking in Montana and hold sexual predators accountable. They must be rejected.”

The changes currently being proposed would weaken the ability to prosecute sexual assault, abuse, exploitation, and trafficking crimes; jeopardize the safety of victims of these crimes; and restrict the ability of law enforcement to protect the public from recidivist behavior in states that follow the Model Penal Code.

Weakening laws in other states would significantly impact Montana’s ability to stop human trafficking rings, since many are multi-state operations. The changes could also leave Montanans more vulnerable to sexual predators if other states’ registry laws are watered down since anyone required to register as a sex offender in another state is also required to register if they move to our state.

The letter was also signed by the attorneys general of Mississippi, Hawaii, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Among the changes being considered by the ALI:

Regarding Sex Trafficking:

  • Removes “advertising” and “obtains” as predicate acts that can be used to establish trafficking.
  • Excludes criminal liability for those who knowingly benefit from their participation in sex trafficking.
  • Requires Government prove buyer knew, but recklessly disregarded, fact that victim was under 18 years old.
  • Mandates identifying a trafficker to establish crime of child sex trafficking has occurred.
  • Excludes criminal liability for sex trafficking for buyers of commercial sex with minors.

Regarding Sex Offender Registries:

  • Removes the following crimes as offenses that require registration:
    • Kidnapping and attempted kidnapping
    • Online enticement
    • Sex trafficking
    • Child sexual abuse material crimes (possession/distribution/production of child pornography)
    • Sexual assaults that do not involve force or restraint
  • Registration for sexual assault of a minor is limited to crimes where the victim is less than 12-years old and the offender is 21-years old or older.
  • Registration for incestuous sexual assault of a minor is limited to crimes where the victim is under the age of 16-years old.
  • Removes key identifiers from registry requirements, including date of birth, DNA samples, and internet identifiers
  • Would permit only government law enforcement agencies to access registry information – there would be no public access and no access by non-profit organizations for prospective employees/applicants.
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