Rating system could improve effectiveness of sex offender registry
The intent of maintaining a publically accessible list of convicted sexual offenders is to protect the public from potential repeat predators. Given that intent, an initiative to review the criteria that lands an individual on the list, with the goal of limiting it to individuals who pose a significant risk factor, makes sense.
More than 5,000 names are listed on the registry, ranging from serial sexual predators to men once convicted of statutory sexual assaults for having consensual relations with girls that were under the age of consent when the young men were above it.
This is not to excuse wrongful, criminal activity, but to recognize one group deserves to be the greater focus of public safety efforts. Parole and probation officers, overseeing a transient population, are now overwhelmed trying to make sure the list remains updated.
Acting on the research conducted by a subcommittee, the Sentencing Commission recommends a three-tier system.
Those judged at high risk of reoffending based on a clinical assessment, the nature of the offense and statistical data would be classified as such and remain on the registry for life.
Those considered a moderate risk would be removed from the register after 20 years if they do not reoffend.
Those considered a low risk would appear on a registry open only to law enforcement and would have their names cleared after 10 years if they do not reoffend.
The commission recommends creation of a paid seven-member board of experts to make the evaluations. The state legislature, which will act on the recommendation, should be leery of creating more bureaucracy and look for ways to conduct these evaluations using existing judicial resources.
In considering revamping the registry, the legislature must hear from victims whose cautionary stories can help prevent the pendulum from swinging too far in the other direction. But after a nearly quarter century, a review of the registry is in order.
The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.
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