Mt. Vernon Register-News

Community News Network

January 25, 2013

Slate's Explainer: Can states exile people?

WASHINGTON — A Washington, D.C., judge ordered a man to stay out of the District of Columbia as a condition of his release from jail this week. Rives Miller Grogan was arrested for climbing a tree near the Capitol as part of a protest during President Obama's inauguration. Can you be banished from a state?

Probably not. Sixteen states have constitutional provisions prohibiting banishment, and appeals courts in many others have outlawed the practice. Although it remains on the books in a handful of states - the Tennessee Constitution permits exile, and Maryland's Constitution specifically prescribes banishment as a punishment for corruption - appeals courts usually overturn sentences of exile. There has been only one recent case of banishment from a state: In 2000, a Kentucky judge banished a domestic abuser from the state for one year. (The case never reached the state's high court.) The District of Columbia has no constitution, and its statutes don't mention banishment, so the legality of Grogan's exile is unclear. Judges typically get wider discretion in prescribing conditions of bail than in sentencing, but there is a strong trend toward invalidating interstate banishment under any circumstances.

In the view of many legal scholars, the permissibility of banishment depends on its geographic breadth. Banishment from the country is decidedly unconstitutional, at least for U.S. citizens. Chief Justice Earl Warren described denationalization of army deserters as "a form of punishment more primitive than torture." Banishment from areas around schools or day care facilities, however, is an increasingly popular punishment for sex crimes. Gang members are occasionally banished from their home towns to keep them from bad influences. Appeals courts sometimes approve these sanctions as long as they don't result in a functional banishment. For example, a Georgia law prohibiting sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a bus stop was declared unconstitutional in 2007. Legislators made clear that they intended to exile sex offenders from the state, and the restrictions left virtually nowhere to live.

There are several arguments against interstate banishment: It's cruel and unusual punishment; it takes away a citizen's right to travel; and it's arguably a form of double jeopardy. The more practical concern is that it could lead to a dance of the lemons, as each state tries to turn its neighbor into a prison colony, thereby avoiding the expense of imprisonment.

            

That's exactly what happened in the early days of English settlement in North America. Great Britain exiled as many as 50,000 convicts to the New World prior to U.S. independence. The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony also sent their undesirables away. In their first year, the Puritans banished up to 10 people, or 1 percent of their population, and continued to cast people off for decades, until the crown ordered them to stop.

The Puritans employed banishment for all sorts of crimes. Adultery, sodomy and bestiality often resulted in exile. A Capt. Stone was sent away for telling a magistrate that he was more a "just ass" than a justice. The Puritans also banished religious heretics, including Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams, who went on to found Rhode Island. Hutchinson and other heretics were never charged with heresy, per se, but with crimes such as disturbing the peace because the Puritans feared King Charles I wouldn't allow them to banish people for minor religious disagreements.

Rives Miller Grogan, the protester exiled from D.C. on Tuesday, was charged under laws that require D.C. authorities to "preserve the peace and secure the Capitol from defacement."

Got a question about today's news? ask-the-explainer@yahoo.com.

           

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks