Federal judge rules state sex offender registry is unconstitutional

DENVER -- Colorado's sex offender registry is unconstitutional because it makes offenders vulnerable to cruel and unusual punishment from the public, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch ruled Thursday in a case involving three offenders who sought to have their information removed from the registry.

Listing offenders' names, addresses and other information gives the public the "power to inflict punishments beyond those imposed by the court," Matsch ruled.

In 2013, the registered sex offenders -- David Millard, Eugene Knight and Arturo Vegas -- filed a lawsuit in Denver U.S. District Court against Michael Rankin, the director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Matsch also ruled the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act violates the 14th Amendment due process rights of the three, finding the men are entitled to be awarded money and attorney fees.

“The fear that pervades the public reaction to sex offenses -- particularly as to children -- generates reactions that are cruel and in disregard of any objective assessment of the individual’s actual proclivity to commit new sex offenses," Matsch ruled.

"The failure to make any individual assessment is a fundamental flaw in the system."

The Colorado Attorney General's Office has not decided if it will appeal the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.