The brother of Little Rock, Arkansas, mayor Frank Scott Jr. was ordered by the Arkansas Supreme Court to register as a sex offender for stealing a car that had two kids in it, even though there was no sexual motive and no harm done to the kids.
Darrell Lamont Scott went on a four-hour crime spree in July 2020. Authorities said he vandalized the property of his neighbors and got into a drunken car wreck, before stealing a truck and going shoplifting at the local mall. The truck was parked outside a Little Rock hospital with two kids in it, ages 4 and 11, their aunt inside the hospital using the bathroom. She got a text from the older child that a man was driving them to the mall. That man, Darrell, even got on the phone and reportedly told the aunt, “Don`t worry! I`m the mayor`s brother.”
The cops found the truck at the mall with the kids still inside, unharmed, and Darrell inside shoplifting at Dillards. He was charged with theft of property and first-degree false imprisonment.
Darrell suffers from psychological problems, court records said, including bipolar disorder. After hospitalization and treatment, he was found to be mentally unstable the day of the crimes and was not convicted of the offenses charged. Instead, he had to continue treatment and medications and was released.
Ordinarily, this would be the end of a story, a somewhat positive outcome for someone who struggles with a mental disorder that`s not their fault. But, unfortunately, the story took an ugly turn.
Even though Darrell wasn`t convicted of anything, much less a sex crime, prosecutor Michelle Quiller demanded that the court force him to register as a sex offender the rest of his life. He`s 33. Arkansas law classifies false imprisonment by a person who is not the parent as a sex offense. It also says that anyone declared innocent of a sex offense by reason of a mental illness must still register as a sex offender. Ark. Code sec 12-12-905.
But Pulaski County Circuit Judge Cathi Compton refused. She said that Darrell wasn`t convicted of a sex offense and that his offense conduct didn`t even involve a sex offense. The state appealed and the Arkansas Supreme Court wound up hearing the case, siding with the state:
The Act`s express language requires a person to register if he or she has been acquitted of a sex offense on the grounds of mental disease or defect. The Act further specifies that kidnapping and false imprisonment are deemed sex offenses if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent.
The state`s highest court handed down the decision on Jan. 20, 2022, requiring Darrell to register as a sex offender. This means he can`t hold a job that deals with minors, he can`t live within 1000 feet of a school, daycare. or park, among lots of other restrictions.
Of course it sounds ridiculous that someone is forced to register as a sex offender, especially when they didn`t commit a sex offense, much less get convicted of one. That was shocking enough.
But the bigger story, I think, is that this exposes the sex offense registry for what it is: A tool to punish people, without any intent on “protecting the public,” as supporters of the sex offense registry say it`s for.
Everyone in this case admitted that Darrell didn`t intend to harm the kids and that no sex-offense conduct even occurred. He stole the truck to get to the mall. Yet, the state pushed its argument and the Supreme Court forced Darrell to register as a sex offender.
Why did this happen? It`s about punishment. Darrell wasn`t convicted due to his mental state at the time he stole the truck. But the state still wanted to punish him, so they fought for the sex offense registry requirement. This isn`t about “protecting” anyone. It`s about the state using a so-called tool to protect the community in order to punish someone.
Let`s call the sex offense registry what it really is: A tool to humiliate and punish people, even non-sex offenders in some cases. Authorities who continue to say it`s a tool to protect people are lying to the people in the communities they serve. The sex offense registry has done no such thing.