ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – More than a half dozen sex offenders who committed their crimes in other states say they’re being treated unfairly in New Mexico.
Now, eight out-of-state sex offenders now living in New Mexico, calling themselves John Does, are suing the Department of Public Safety and various sheriffs to get their fair shot at a hearing.
“When someone moves to New Mexico, they’re kind of automatically by default required to register,” Liberty and Justice Coalition Attorney Barett G. Porter said.
Porter said many convicted sex offenders who move to New Mexico aren’t getting the state-required case review to determine if they should even have to register as a sex offender.
“We’re not actually looking for a break,” Liberty and Justice Coalition Attorney Ashley Reymore-Cloud stated. “What we’re looking for is that they’re awarded their constitutional due rights and due process that every single person is entitled to regardless of what they did.”
The lawsuit states that registering as a sex offender in New Mexico entails “significant burdens.”
“[They are required to] report to the sheriff every 90 days; tell your employer that you’re a registered sex offender; provide all of your information about your vehicle; and be published on the internet, all when, in fact, you may not even need to register in this state,” Porter said.
In one example, the lawsuit said one of the John Does was convicted of sexual assault and only had a 10-year registration period in Colorado but has to register for life in New Mexico.
Porter said the lawsuit is not about challenging the sex offender registration rules but getting their day in court.
“A court should do this analysis. You look at the plea documents, you look at the judgment and maybe even have to reach back to the police reports to find out, you know, what are the elements of this offense that equate to a sex offense in New Mexico?” Porter explained.
Porter referred to the DPS website, which states there are still about 1,000 sex offenders waiting for their our-of-state cases to be reviewed.
In response to the lawsuit, DPS said it’s processed 323 out-of-state cases since February.
Five New Mexico sheriffs are named in the lawsuit because they maintain the sex offender registries for the counties where the John Does live.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office would not comment on the pending litigation but said it is committed to keeping families and businesses safe.