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Sentencing: Bill to Study Habitual Drug Offender Registry Introduced in Maine

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

First, it was the sex offenders. Then it was the meth cooks. Now, a bill introduced in the Maine Senate would lay the groundwork for what would be the nation's first registry of habitual drug offenders. While proponents of such life-long branding of people who have completed their prison sentences cite public safety, opponents say registries unfairly stigmatize people who have paid their debt to society.

drug prevention or drug dealer advertising?
Registries are especially controversial now in Maine. In April, two former sex offenders living in the state were murdered by a Canadian man who apparently obtained their addresses from the state's sex offender registry.

Introduced Tuesday by Sen. Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland County), the "Act to Study a Maine Habitual Drug Offender Registry" would direct the legislature's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee to study creating a registry of persons repeatedly charged with drug dealing offenses. In published remarks, Drummond, who is co-chair of the committee, portrayed the measure as one aimed at helping families protect children.

"Drug abuse and the crime it perpetrates are one the rise in Maine. My intent is to take deliberate steps to examine any way and every way this increase can be combated," said Sen. Diamond in a press statement. "This legislation is a first step toward a tool Maine families can use to keep our communities and children safe from drugs and drug related crimes."

Drug arrests are up in Maine, along with an overall increase in the crime rate, and public officials were eager to blame drug use and drug sales. "2005 was the deadliest year in Maine for drug overdoses and a rash of bank, pharmacy and convenience store robberies were fueled by the demand for money to feed growing drug habits," said Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara in releasing crime and drug bust figures after a major cocaine bust last week.

"Mainers will not sit back and let these drugs continue to come into our state and corrupt our children. We need to make every effort, investigate every avenue, to fight drugs in our state. 'An Act to Study a Maine Habitual Drug Offender Registry' is just one avenue that could end up making a difference in bringing safety back to our streets," said Diamond.

But the bill has its critics. "Establishing a yellow pages for convicted drug dealers doesn't sound like a good idea to me," Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union told the Portland Press-Herald. "A better use of taxpayers' dollars would be to fund public education to keep kids off drugs and rehabilitation to keep users from turning into dealers."

The registry concept has also been criticized on moral, religious grounds. Frank Macchia, a minister in the Assembly of God, critiqued the broader issue of offender registries in an article last month in the magazine of ecumenical thought Vital Theology, criticizing sex offender registries as aiming to stigmatize and humiliate, rather than enhance public safety. Rather than seek to humiliate sinners, wrote Macchia, "As the people of God, we should not only seek to bear witness to Christ and to the redemptive grace that Christ channels to us, but also function in the public arena as salt of the earth."

So there are unanswered questions: Would such a registry turn out to provide advertising for would-be repeat offenders seeking more clientele, hence defeat their purpose? (They are calling it a "habitual" drug offender registry, after all, the group of people statistically most likely to re-offend.) And who will get the contract for the Scarlet Ds?

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

If it protects just one child, then the law is worth it.

Anyone who opposes this is pro-illegal drugs.

Parents have a right to know who their children are dealing with.

Does any of this sound familiar?

After drug users get a registry(and they will), then they get banished too? After drug users, then who, drunk drivers? They kill 20,000 people a year, almost 20,000% more kids die from repeat drunk drivers. Do not parents have a right to know who might be driving down their street drunk.....

Where does it stop? With politicians involved... it will not stop until we are all born in jail and have to earn our way out.

Thu, 11/01/2007 - 11:01am Permalink
robert ennis (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

This drug offender registry is a joke... If anyone knows how to sue the state for an ex post facto just let me know. I did 6 years in prison...came out, successfully made it thrugh drug treatment (paid by me), completed parole, attended many many NA classes.... then upon completion of parole (I did everything the state of kansas required of me thruogh plea bargain), now because of this registry thing.... I am place under even more danger of going back on a level6 person felony should i forget to register. Believe me... this IS just the begining of states going against the constitution, and the public needs to really think about what's going on here. I am a carpenter. I live drugs in well over 10 years...I also have a Daughter who I love so much. You take a plea bargain for the, the State goes against this deal??? Against my rights? Our rights! Let me know if a lawsuit is being pursued please....I'm in!!!!!!!!!

Sun, 07/11/2010 - 3:36pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Hello, I for one am very perplexed about this drug registry. For one, I was convicted back in 99 on meth charges, so I do my time, do all that was required of me by the courts and my wife and I were looking forward to my getting off parole to go about our lives. Now, in Kansas, they are laying this registration thing on me, after I've already been sentenced!!! I'm curious as to how this is happening? How can legislation just throw something when the statute was not in effect at the time of my offense? I see that supposedly this registration thing is not punitive in nature (right!), what I see is "community concern" nicely wrapped up in ultimatum, because God forbid you don't make it to register or you will get a nice LEVEL 5 PERSON FELONY. For those of us who have changed our lives, started families, that's quite a problem when you think about it. I served my time in this matter and me and my family want to live our own lives!

Tue, 02/19/2008 - 11:40am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I completely agree and I am in the same situation you are. I was convicted in 2001, am just about ready to be released from parole. I have changed my lifestyle and was very much looking foward to getting on with my life as well. Then they tell me I am required to register as a drug offender for the next 10 years? What happened to the Ex Post Facto, part of the United States Constitution that states that "no state shall ....pass any ...ex post facto Law". It is long established that any statue...which makes more burdensome the punishment of a crime, after its commission... is prohibited as ex post facto. This is completely unconstitutional, to be able to charge you with a PERSON felony for noncompliance on a NONPERSON offense! It's only a matter of time brfore this goes to court and is overturned.

Sat, 03/01/2008 - 7:43pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Now some of the arguments on my site apply to this whole new "drug registry" thing. How in the blazing hell the Supreme Court called this crap "regulatory and not punitive" is completely and totally beyond me! We'll see how "non-punitive" it is when enough people are caught in the registration nets.

Sun, 07/13/2008 - 12:36am Permalink
Codis8 (not verified)

I to am now a registered drug offender. Anybody know what states besides KS require drug offender registration? Yesterday they tried to tell me all states required it? I hate to leave KS, my family is here, but I will NOT do this for ten years. I did my time. Whats next? Leave the country?

Tue, 01/06/2009 - 10:16am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Codis8 (not verified)

You only have to register as a drug offender in the states that require you to do so. Only 2 or 3 states so far have this drug registry. This information came from the sherriff here in Shawnee County. The neighboring states do not require you to register. So moving out of this state is not a bad idea! This state has some ridiculous laws.

Thu, 01/29/2009 - 7:32pm Permalink
Codis8 (not verified)

Supposedly next year drug offenders in KS are going to be required to register every 3 months instead of every 4 months. This gets worse every year. They told me this in September. The worst part about this is that since I go to college in a different county, I have to register there as well. Punishment for doing something positive for myself. Any one know what groups in KS are fighting this? I would like to do what I can but cannot really give financial support. Who is pushing this registry? They are making my life really difficult. It never stops. Nope.

Sat, 11/21/2009 - 11:35am Permalink

I have new charges for not reporting, after i registered, and i am doing ok, no other charges, trying to get disability, and work on my mental problems. I dont know what to do, can i move to another state? will this crap follow me? will the state next door care that kansas is pissed that a drug offender registered, but then didn't follow up after that? I have yet to move from the place they last knew i lived at...any solid advice? does any one know the correct answer to my question?

Thu, 04/22/2010 - 11:45pm Permalink
Robert Ennis (not verified)

We all need to fight for OUR rights in this! Not just drug offenders.....because this is only the begining. Legislation is what we will have to fight. States should not be allowed to infringe on OUR Constitutional Rights after taking plea bargains and complete said Plea bargains. This behavior is unacceptable! To you " Society" , trust me...this will affect you in the future. We are all Americans, we have Rights, and we MUST protect them! If anyone is Spearheading this.....please Email me at [email protected]. I have been out of the drug scene for over 10 years, I live happy with my wife and little girl, both I love very much and would die for them. I live legally and shouldn't be treated as a monster.

Sun, 07/11/2010 - 3:50pm Permalink
budderbreakfast (not verified)

how could making people who use drugs register save a child life?   all americans should be in favor of people having the right to choose what they will put into their own body in the confines of the privacy of their home.  if you do not agree with that, you sir clearly believe not in the constitution of our forefathers.  if anything decriminalizing these drugs and taking away the illegal stigmata would in fact begin to save childrens lives and more many reasons not just one.  for one there will be alot more knowledge available to the child so if he does decide to try a drug he will do so in the safest possible way.  the violence and gang activity/violence that comes hand in hand with drug dealing and drug money will disappear. kids that go mental or commit suicide or are murdered in prison for nonviolent drug crimes can get the treatment they need and be helped not punished to death.  One day your son or grandson could decide that maybe they want to try a drug that happens to be illegal.  do you want them to be treated like a child rapist for trying to smoke a plant?  does that not seem rediculous to you as a human being let alone an American?


wake up sheeple you are being led to to the slaughterhouse.

Mon, 01/16/2012 - 10:56am Permalink
Denise (not verified)

My son was given a narcotic RX from a friends dad while he had a sleep over. After the police knocked on my door the next day to tell me my son is dead. I then find out this parent has been convicted of drug charges before. If I had known this my son would have never been in his home and he would be alive today. 

Sat, 05/19/2012 - 1:15am Permalink
robert ennis (not verified)

So, are you now saying that ALL people who are on Prescription Meds should also register? Because that situation had nothing to do with being some drug offender. I'm am sorry that you allowed your son to sleep over somebodies house without screening them properly (simple mistake). The truth is, just because someone had violated a law in the past, and paid for that violation, doesn't mean they are forever a drug offender. I sincerely am saddened by your lose. Honestly, it could have happened even if they were not drug offenders (and has I'm sure). Parenting is about watching out for your child and I always suggest that they not be allowed to have sleepovers unless you know the people, or met them, and are comfortable with it. Don't take your anger out on people who actually changed. Most of us are not your enemy. Parenting is about learning from mistakes. It's unfortunate that you lost your son. I would die inside if I lost my Daughter, as well as my Son. Which is precisely my point. Registration places my Family in peril of losing my financial support, as well as emotional support should I get caught up in this. Yes I broke the law. I took responsibility for that by plea bargain (Plea bargain is a CONTRACT...debt paid upon fulfilling that contract and changing. I am not everyone else. I am responsible for me and my one else's. So please, don't group me with everyone else's mistakes. They are responsible for their owns actions. Once it is allowed on violating create case precedent....which in turn will affect you in the future. There is more to this than you think.

Sun, 05/27/2012 - 4:04pm Permalink

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