As recently reported on The Day, The Connecticut Judiciary Committee has allowed a bill to advance that will allow low-risk sex offenders to be removed from the public sex offender registry. Advocates of the bill state that it will allow law enforcement officials to prioritise high risk offenders instead of monitoring low risk ones.
Robert Farr, former chief of the Board of Pardons and Paroles stated on the website Middletown Press that, “It’s harder for people who are on the registry to get employment and it’s harder to get housing. Studies have shown that people who are homeless are five times more likely to commit a new offense.”
He goes on to clarify current failings with the system, “There is a misconception in the public that if someone is on the registry, that means they are being supervised. The reality is that the registry doesn’t supervise people, you only get arrested if you fail to verify your address.”
The new bill passed committee stage by a vote of 26 to 12 and if ratified will create a new registry board for sex offenders that would base the length of time on the register on risk of reoffending, not the severity of the offense committed. Any judgements by the board would take into account risk assessment information provided by probation or parole officials before a decision is made.
Another aspect of the bill is to split the registry in two, with one available to the public showing information on high-risk offenders, and one available to law enforcement officials showing all offenders. The extra offenders on this register would be considered to have a low risk of reoffending.
In addition, the bill if passed will create three standards lengths of time that an offender can be placed on the register. The existing register allows for only 2 terms, 10 years or life. The new register would add in a period of 20 years as an alternative. It would also require offenders to verify their address only once a year rather than the four times a year they currently have to under present legislation.
People convicted in the past, mainly between 1988 to 1998, were placed on the registry without a hearing and the length of time was dictated by the offense they committed, not the likelihood of them reoffending. The new bill will allow these people to request a hearing with the new registry board so their place on the register can assessed, amended, or even removed. Victims of their crimes will be given notice and have an opportunity to have their say at any hearing, whether that is in person or in statement form.
But as reported by CT News Junkie, not everyone is happy about the proposed changed. Alicia Sakal, a Connecticut mother, isn’t convinced by the new bill. She told the public hearing that she discovered that someone living near her had charges for the possession of child pornography against him originating in New York and was horrified that the community she lived in wasn’t told. She said, “Our son would sometimes have play dates with his son, and our child was left alone with this man.”
On the same website, Rep. Richard Smith, R-New Fairfield, was reported as urging committee members to rethink. He said, “If you have a sex offender living near you in a certain radius, how is one supposed to know that?”
If you are impacted by this story, then contact an attorney.
There’s no harm in checking where you stand with the new bill. Whether you are a victim who disagrees with the changes, or an offender looking to have your place on the registry removed, a lawyer will be able to let you know what your rights are and how you can progress your case.