May 15, 2012

State not in line with federal sex offender registry law

5-15-2012 West Virginia:

West Virginia stands to lose about $60,000 in grants for not complying with a federal sex offender registration law, but authorities said compliance would actually cost the state six times that amount.

And enforcing the federal rule is unrealistic in a state where convicted sex offenders outnumber state troopers by more than 5 to 1, said J. Norbert Federspiel, director of the Division of Justice and Community Services.

Known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, the federal law requires states to use a three-tiered system to classify offenders. Those in the highest tier would be required to meet with authorities at least four times a year to verify information like their current address.

Those in lower tiers would meet with state troopers once or twice a year.

West Virginia, which is one of 35 states not complying with the law, has its own protocol for registering and tracking sex offenders. As of Monday, all but 13 of the state's 3,329 offenders were accounted for.

Under the state's current system, troopers make random, unannounced visits on offenders at least once a year.

Offenders also are required to update their information at their local State Police detachment when they move or change jobs. Troopers verify that the new information is accurate, a process that takes about two hours.

The 24 individuals considered "sexually violent predators" must update their registration every three months. They also receive more frequent visits.

Federspiel said the federal law would change the current procedure and require significantly more manpower.

For example, those who are tier three offenders are required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives and must update their registration every three months. Tier One offenders must register for 15 years and tier two offenders are required 25 years. ..For the remainder of this story: by Ashley B. Craig, Daily Mail staff

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