February 23, 2013

Electronic sex offender registry bill pushed by sheriffs

2-23-2013 Idaho:

BOISE -- The Idaho House will soon take up a bill that would create a statewide electronic network to track sex offenders. It would also increase the fee sex offenders pay to register as sex offenders.

The Idaho Sheriff's Association is pushing this bill, hoping to save time and money for sheriff's offices across the state as they try to keep track of sex offenders.

"I wouldn't say it's a critical problem, but it certainly is costly to their departments," said Rep. Rich Wills.

Wills is the chairman of the House Judicial, Rules and Administration Committee, the committee that passed this bill.

He says the purpose of House Bill 105 is to not only create a little more accountability for sex offenders, but help augment the costs to sheriff's offices.

"These guys move around a lot, they really do. They don't stay in one location very long, and so in order to track them and so on, that takes a considerable amount of time," said Wills.

The bill would create an electronic database and network for every county across the state.

Sheriffs would then be able to track offenders across county lines.

"What we're finding is many of these predators will go to the smaller counties because they can get lost there just easier than they can in the large counties," said Wills.

Chris Smith is a former Canyon County sheriff and is filling in on the committee that heard this bill.

"With a good database in place you're able to do those compliance checks and make sure they're living where they're supposed to be," said Smith. "You can provide that information to the neighborhoods or anybody that wants to see if there is a registered sex offender living in their neighborhood."

To pay for the new system sex offenders will have to pay double what they're currently paying the state to register. The fee would jump from $40 to $80 per year.

The ACLU is opposing this bill.

"If the state has an interest in creating an electronic system, then the state, through the appropriations committee or JFAC, should actually set aside funds in order to make sure the state can fund such a thing, not place the burden on the backs of offenders who have already paid restitution to the system and paid for the crime through incarceration," said Monica Hopkins.

This bill passed a House committee Thursday and will be heard by the full House in the coming weeks..

Right now, less than 10 counties across the state use an online database for registered sex offenders.

If the bill becomes law, it will be up to each individual county and sheriff to decide whether the information is public. ..Source.. by Scott Evans

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