EJI Challenges State’s Use of Community Notification Act to Prevent Disabled Man’s Family From Caring For Him

09.19.08

On September 17, 2008, EJI attorneys filed a complaint in Montgomery County Circuit Court alleging that the State of Alabama’s application of the Community Notification Act’s adult sex offender residency and notification requirements against Andrew Miller, a mentally retarded, visually impaired, and physically disabled man, violate his and his family’s constitutional rights.

On September 4, 1986, mentally retarded fifteen-year-old Andrew Miller was arrested on charges of sexual assault. That day, he was improperly transferred to adult court — a mistake that the prosecution and circuit court judge unsuccessfully tried to correct.

In adult court, Mr. Miller was appointed an attorney whose license was suspended for deceitful conduct that same year. Mr. Miller was convicted and served twenty years in prison.

In 1996, while Mr. Miller was incarcerated, the Alabama Legislature passed the Community Notification Act (CNA), which automatically and permanently bars adult sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of a school or childcare facility.

Juvenile sex offenders are exempt from the CNA’s automatic restrictions, but because Mr. Miller was mistakenly transferred to adult court, the Alabama Department of Public Safety classified Mr. Miller as an adult criminal sex offender when he was released from prison in 2006. As a result, Mr. Miller is subject to the residency restrictions.

Andrew Miller is a mentally retarded and physically disabled man who cannot live on his own. He cannot drive, write a check, or cook his own meals. He suffers from numerous medical conditions that require him to take over a dozen daily prescriptions in different doses at different times of the day. Mr. Miller’s disabilities make him incapable of understanding and following this complicated regimen.

Mr. Miller’s large, close-knit family wants to shelter and care for him, but the CNA bars Mr. Miller from living with his family because they all live within 2000 feet of a school or child care facility. It also bars him from living in a state residential facility. With no place to live and no medical care, the complaint alleges, Mr. Miller is in grave jeopardy of serious physical illness and injury, mental decompensation, victimization, and death.

EJI is seeking an injunction that would prevent state officials from unfairly using the CNA to bar Mr. Miller from accessing the shelter and care he needs.