January 13, 2015

Senate committee works to fine tune sex offender registry bill

1-13-2015 Vermont:

State senators Tuesday began work on a bill intended to resolve persistent problems with the state’s sex offender registry.

The bill, S.13, is designed to fix problems with the registry that have been known for years and were highlighted this summer in a Seven Days article.

A 2010 state audit found numerous problems with the registry, including people missing who should be registered and vice versa. A new audit released in 2014 found that those errors persisted.

One employee at the Public Safety Department, which administers the registry, is faced with deciding who should be on the public registry, said Keith Flynn, the public safety commissioner.

Those decisions lie with the court, whereas the public safety department should only administer the database, he said. The decision on whether someone should be on the registry should be handed to the Public Safety Department by the court at the time of sentencing, he said.

The public safety department also wants to eliminate inconsistencies in registration requirements for offenders.

“We want to get this right,” Flynn said.

Testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday centered around how people who committed crimes in other states should be listed on the registry. About 85 percent of people on the registry are Vermonters who live in Vermont and the rest are people with out-of-state or federal convictions, Flynn said.

The bill is still in early stages and will likely change. ..Source.. by Laura Krantz is VTDigger's criminal justice and corrections reporter.

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