Travis was 21 when he involved himself in a relationship with a 15-year-old girl. People found out, and Travis was eventually convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a felony of the 4 th degree. Although Travis was evaluated by a psychologist who determined that he was not likely to re-offend and although the judge involved in the case concurred, Travis was still required to register as a Tier II sex offender per Ohio’s Adam Walsh Act.
Travis served his sentence, but he still lives with the “scarlet letter,” as he calls it, of sex offender registration. Travis, his attorney, and likely others who have found themselves in similar situations assert that this type of punishment is grossly disproportionate to the offense committed. One illicit relationship Travis had when he was 21 will haunt him for the next 25 years, which is how long Tier II sex offenders are required to register in Ohio.
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Travis will appear before Ohio’s high court today with his public defender by his side to plead his case. After Travis was automatically declared a sex offender in 2012, he appealed his case before the Second District. The appeals court ruled to uphold the designation. Travis’ appearance before the Ohio Supreme Court is a last ditch effort to shed his sex offender title.
Sex offender registration is designed to protect the public from individuals who have been convicted of various sex offenses and those who are likely to reoffend, but some believe the Adam Walsh Act casts a wide net – too wide – placing the same requirements on low level offenders as dangerous or repeat offenders.
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Travis was only sentenced to serve 12 days in prison for his crime, yet he is required to register as a sex offender for 25 years. The reason this can even happen is that the Supreme Court does not classify sex offender registration as a punishment. Sex offenders don’t feel that way though, as this title often brings collateral consequences such as difficulty gaining employment, social stigma, difficulty traveling, and difficulty finding housing.
If the Supreme Court finds that sex offender registration is punitive, Travis and his attorney have a shot at changing registration requirements on the basis of cruel and unusual punishment. Read more on The Columbus Dispatch.