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Alabama Prisoner Convicted of Kidnapping Minor Can be Labeled Sex Offender

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that an Alabama prisoner failed to state a claim against the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), when he alleged that its application of a 2011 sex offender (S.O.) statute to his 2005 conviction violated his procedural and substantive due process rights and his ex post facto rights.

In 2013, Adam Waldman, an ADOC prisoner, was designated an S.O. based on his 2005 conviction for first degree kidnapping of a minor. Waldman filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint alleging that this designation did not apply when he committed his crime, but was enacted in 2011 by the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act (ASORCNA). He argued that the designation changed the conditions of his confinement without notice or a hearing; it was applied even though he had no conviction as a sex offense, and the punishment did not exist at the time of his offense.

The federal district court dismissed the claim for failure to state a claim for relief. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal. The Eleventh Circuit noted that Waldman's claims concerning post-release conditions were not ripe for consideration. Waldman was serving two life sentences plus 10 years, and was not eligible for parole, so there is no indication that he would be released. No injury can be shown for future possibilities.

The Eleventh Circuit also held that it lacked jurisdiction to address the claim of procedural due process for officials' failure to meet notice requirements. The court held that this was not a procedural challenge, but a claim of state officials violating state laws. Such a claim is barred by the Eleventh Amendment.

The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to address Waldman's claim that the designation made him ineligible for parole and increased his original sentence. The court determined that Waldman sued the wrong defendants. The Board of Prisons and Parole decides parole eligibility and parole conditions, not the defendants named, so no relief was available.

All other claims were also not subject to relief. Waldman's designation as S.O. was held to be proper. Although he did not commit any sex act, the first degree kidnapping of a minor statute expressly labels that as a sex offense, so he did have the qualifying offense to be designated as an S.O.. Since the statute noticed anyone charged of the S.O. status, there was no other procedural need to notify Waldman of such designation before it was supplied.

No substantive due process violation occurred because the designation was not imposed as punishment or injury. The court reflected that the legislative intent was to protect minors and the public from sexual abuse.

The court also declared that no ex post facto violation existed because the S.O. designation is civil in nature, and ex post facto proscriptions only apply to criminal actions. Accordingly, the Eleventh Circuit held that dismissal of the complaint was proper.

See: Waldman v. Alabama Prison Commissioner, No 15-155535, F. 3d (11th Cir. 2017)

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Related legal case

Waldman v. Alabama Prison Commissioner

 

 

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