September 22, 2014

The family violence registry is pointless if not kept up to date

9-22-2014 Guam:

The attorney general's office needs to get the island's family violence registry, which hasn't added any new names since it launched in April, updated.

In 2011, lawmakers passed the family violence registry law in an effort to improve the safety of all residents by giving the public access to a central database of repeat family violence offenders. After sitting in limbo for three years, the law was finally implemented in April, when the registry went online with 13 names.

However, no new names have been added since. There are more than 1,000 cases of family violence reported on Guam each year and about 500 cases of family violence are pursued by the attorney general annually.

The attorney general's office, which is responsible for maintaining the registry, says it's taking longer to put up a full list of names due to the need to scrupulously verify the accuracy of all information and it lacks people to dedicate themselves fully to the registry. The registry is estimated to cost taxpayers about $80,000 a year, which pays for a paralegal and clerk to assist with data input and management.

The law requires the attorney general to maintain a list of family violence offenders who have been convicted of at least two family violence cases.

In cases in which one of those convictions is expunged, the offender can be removed from the registry. In some cases, such as those involving the use of a deadly weapon, an offender can be placed on the registry for a first offense.

The AG's office should seek the expertise of the Guam Judiciary, which manages the island's sex-offender registry. The court in recent years addressed gaps and deficiencies with the sex-offender registry and that experience could help with the AG's efforts.

Lawmakers also should consider whether the family violence registry would be better managed by the Judiciary instead of the AG's office.

If the registry can't be kept up to date, lawmakers need to re-examine the value of the law. The registry is useless and doesn't serve the community's interests if its information isn't kept up to date. ..Source.. by

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