How will the Epstein case change New Mexico’s registration laws?

As soon as I saw the headline, I started to worry for New Mexico. The New York Times last week ran a story with the headline, “Jeffrey Epstein Registered as a Sex Offender in 2 States. In New Mexico He Didn’t Have to.” and I immediately thought to myself, ‘OH NO!’ How long will it be until the State of New Mexico proposes a new law (possibly named after one of the victims in the Epstein case) to close this perceived “loophole” in their registry?

I didn’t have to wait long for my answer or the proposal. On Friday of the same week, New Mexico’s attorney general, Hector Balderas, announced he wants to change a law that allowed billionaire businessman Jeffrey Epstein to avoid registering as a sex offender in the state.

Legislators need to stop doing this! Waiting for an extremely rare, headline grabbing occurrence to happen and then coming up with knee-jerk legislation to serve as a “fix”, that does nothing to fix any perceived problem and that will have no impact on Epstein but will undoubtedly punish people who have nothing to do with him. We’ve seen it happen time and time again.

After the murder of Jessica Lunsford, States across the country passed “Jessica Lunsford Acts” imposing harsh punishments for a horrific act committed by John Couey, who was never subjected to any of the Jessica Lunsford Acts and will never be. Similarly, Jesse Timmendequas, who raped and killed Megan Kanka, will never be subjected to “Megan’s Law” because he’s serving a life sentence in New Jersey. The year after the murder of Cherish Perrywinkle, Florida passed a bunch of new restrictions for persons required to register as sex offenders, making it “scorched earth”, but the target of that punishment, Donald Smith, will never experience the scorched earth because he’ll be in prison for the rest of his life, while tens of thousands of first-time, non-violent offenders are serving his punishment.

Assuming the government is now going to hand Epstein the punishment they believe he should have gotten more than a decade ago, he may never be returning to New Mexico. Still, presuming he does; his “Zorro Ranch” in New Mexico sits on thousands of acres of land and even has it’s own airstrip and airplane hangar. Do you really think the burdens of registration (like ostracism, vigilantism, finding employment and a place to live) are going to impact him? Hell no! Who will it impact? The potentially thousands of hard-working people who have paid their debt to society, redeemed themselves and are now living a law abiding life, who may decades later have to retroactively be added to the New Mexico registry and will lose their jobs, homes and families.


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3 Thoughts to “How will the Epstein case change New Mexico’s registration laws?”

  1. Ed C

    This concerned me as soon as I read that the Attorney General had issued a press release. He said we were “behind” other states in our registration laws, and mentioned failed legislation from the last legislative session. I presume he was referencing HB 307 which was horrendous. I suspect he will try to gain some political traction by being tough on sex offenders.

    As the article mentioned, Zorro Ranch is miles from any significant population center and has access by air. The idea that an unregistered Epstein presented a danger is ludicrous. I suspect he did not troll for victims in Stanley or Galisteo. More to the point, Epstein’s current conviction, i.e. soliciting a prostitute over the age of 16, is not a registrable offense in New Mexico. Neither Epstein nor anyone else would have to register. Unless one believes the age should be raised, there is no need to change New Mexico law. The problem was not with existing law, but with a corrupt Florida U.S. Attorney who allowed the sweetheart deal.

    If Epstein is convicted of the current charges or perhaps for child pornography, a registration requirement is already on the books. Even then, he could still fly in “guests.” I for one intend to watch this local political theater and be proactive if possible.

  2. Rick Dean

    Thank You Ed for your input, you can bet that LJC will be on top of this come legislation time.

  3. TLJ

    I wonder if the attorney general of new Mexico wants to spend the next few decades loosing to appellate challenges. Does he realize that many of the states that we are “behind” are embroiled in law suits and legal challenges for their overreaching practices and restrictions against those on the sex offender registry? Maybe he didn’t read the news about the family members of registered citizens in Missouri that are suing the registry. maybe he thinks himself as someone who is too holy or pious to fall flat on his face.
    If anyone is to lobby against his fearmongering they only need to suggest and remind the lawmakers of the monetary consequences of a lost lawsuit that creates culpability to a victim. they will be much less enthused to support a bill that creates future liability.

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