Kansas bill would remove drug offenders from public registry

In Kansas, many people convicted of drug crimes are placed on a public registry along with those convicted of sex offenses. The state of Kansas is considering relieving some 4,600 or so “drug offenders” of the burden of being on a public registry.

The rationale for removing drug offenders from the registry also apply to sex offenders. For instance, there’s this:

“It is a drain on resources with no science, studies, or data to justify it,” defense lawyer Jennifer Roth told lawmakers at an early February hearing.

Yes. And this:

Last year, 38 people were sent to prison over their failure to register for drug crimes, and the Kansas Sentencing Commission estimates that removing drug crimes would save the state roughly a million dollars each year. 

How much could Kansas save by also getting rid of its sex offender registry?

Are those on Kansas’ drug offender registry more understanding towards those registered for sex offenses?

The personal ramifications of being on the registry can be difficult to pinpoint, since having a felony on one’s record can also bring negative consequences. But some registrants say it creates an additional barrier when they look for employment. “If you want a job, you don’t have to tell them you’re a felon anymore, but now they can search for you, and it lowers your chances even more of getting a job,” said Ashleigh Swarts, who was convicted of various methamphetamine crimes, most recently in 2014. “I can’t get a job, period.” 

Although drugs do not carry the same social stigma as sexual and violent crimes, some people say that being on the registry takes a toll on their relationships. Holly Bratcher, who was convicted of involvement in meth production after being caught in a raid at a friend’s house, said she had abandoned her drug use, but her new boyfriend’s ex-partner found her on the registry. “She told his mom, told others kids’ moms, and put my business out there for everybody,” Bratcher said. “Anybody who looks at my record, they don’t know me, they are quick to judge me.”

Anyone on the sex offender registry can well relate. No drug offender should be on a public registry, and neither should any sex offender.


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