Idaho and its Sex Offender Registry is Flawed, But Constitutional

John Melbane has a long history of abusing children in Arizona and Idaho, where is has been incarcerated since 1993. But Melbane does not show up on Idaho’s sex offender registry.

Earlier this month, Melbane’s younger brother testified at his parole hearing, asking the parole board to deny Melbane’s release. Mike Melbane was one of John’s earlies victims. When he asked the parole board to keep John in prison, Mike told the board, “He’s never shown any remorse, and he’s had ample opportunity to apologize to me.”

In 1983, Melbane was convicted of child sexual abuse in Arizona. A 1988 “Ineligible Volunteer File” on Melbane created by the Boy Scouts of America indicates that Idaho law enforcement considered him a “hot potato” for years before he was eventually convicted in 1993 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for molesting a 4-year-old Lewiston boy.

So why isn’t Melbane a “registered” sex offender? The problem is in Idaho’s sex offender registry. The registry was created by the Idaho Legislature in 1998. The statute created a lifetime sex offender registry for those convicted of certain sex crimes on or after July 1, 1993.

John Mebane was convicted of molesting the 4-year-old boy on June 30, 1993, just one day prior to the start date of the registry.

Laws imposing punishments for crimes, including laws requiring registering as a sex offender, cannot be imposed retroactively, or back in time. Changing Idaho’s sex offender registration to make it apply retroactively would be unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, this means that some criminals who have been convicted for molesting multiple children and who have other victims – men like John Melbane – could go unregistered. That’s why Mike Melbane believes he has a duty to help keep his older brother behind bars.




Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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