Judge Critical of Sex-Offender Registry Confirmed to Massachusetts High Court

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Judge Critical of Sex-Offender Registry Confirmed to Massachusetts High Court 

Judge Critical of Sex-Offender Registry Confirmed to Massachusetts High Court

Critics had argued that Kimberly Budd’s criticism of sex-offender registries “render her unfit to serve as a justice.”

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Making a mild criticism of sex offender registries looked like it could have hurt a Massachusetts judge in her bid to serve on the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. But on Wednesday the Governor’s Council, an eight-member elected body responsible for approving judicial nominees, voted unanimously in favorof Superior Court Judge Kimberly Budd’s nomination to serve as an associate justice.

During a grilling by the Governor’s Council last week, Budd had said the state Sex Offender Registry is too expansive, ensnaring people who are far from a threat to anyone. She added that this opinion stemmed not from her “professional experience, but just hearing about people who wind up on the registry that don’t necessarily need to be there and aren’t really sex offenders.”

As anyone who reads Reason editor Jacob Sullum or “Free Range Kids” empress Lenore Skenazy on this topic knows, Budd’s is an entirely accurate statement. While registry rules vary from state to state, a growing array of offenses can land someone on the registry, leaving all sorts of non-predators on a list that people think of and lawmakers treat like a compendium of rapists and child molesters. 

Budd stopped short of criticizing the registry more broadly, although the logical foundations of the registry as a whole are shaky, as there’s scant evidence that perpetrators of sex crimes are more likely to re-offend than other types of offenders. Still, even the judge’s suggestion that we should purge people who “aren’t really sex offenders” from the list drew loud objections from some.