The Tennessean reports that former Vanderbilt University football player Brandon Banks, one of four charged in the rape of a fellow student, turned down a plea bargain and opted to go to trial…in an attempt to avoid the sex offender registry. The deal offered by prosecutors reportedly included a 10-year prison term, versus the 15-to-25 years he will serve after he was found guilty.
Going to trial was worth the risk of a longer prison term, defense lawyer Mark Scruggs said, because Banks hoped to avoid a lifetime position on the state’s sex offender registry.
“He turned it down because he decided 10 versus 15 was not as important as being under supervision and being on the registry for the rest of his life,” the lawyer said.
“That’s like being in prison itself. He wanted to the opportunity to someday to get off that thing. And they would not give it to him, even though he’s not a threat.”
Risking a considerably longer prison sentence to avoid the registry? Even the judge in the case seems to agree the list is punitive.
“All of the defendants in this case basically have life sentences,” the judge said on July 14 as he sentenced another ex-football player, Cory Batey. “After they get out of jail or prison they will be on the sex-offender registry for the rest of their lives. That’s a life sentence in and of itself.”
The sex offender registry has been sold over the years as a civil regulation, meant to protect the public, and not a form of punishment. Does anybody now reasonably believe that is actually the case?