June 19, 2015

Dornin: Pay $50 a Year Forever ... Or Maybe Not

6-19-15 New Hampshire:

HB 587 would have abolished the annual fee former sex offenders pay to be listed in the state's online database.

Lawmakers killed a good crime bill this year.

Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform wrote and recruited sponsors for HB 587, which would have abolished the $50 annual “fee” the state charges citizens to register as former sexual offenders, often for the rest of their lives. The charge buys them the privilege of being publicly shamed on the State Police website. Failure to pay can get them arrested and theoretically sent to prison.

Our bill died on the House floor based in part on misinformation by state Rep. Dick Marston, R-Manchester, who posted the following blurb in the House calendar before the vote:
“There is a provision in the law that would currently allow the fee to be waived if the offender was unable to afford it. The (House Criminal Justice) committee determined that repealing the fee would have resulted in virtually eliminating the registry, which would be a disservice to the citizens of NH.”
Marston misled lawmakers, perhaps intentionally. Yes, eliminating the fee would cost the state the $93,400 a year it squeezes from registrants to pay for their scarlet letter. But the registry costs state and local government far more than that. The State Police testified they employ seven people full time to keep the registry up to date. The Manchester Police say they assign two full-time officers to track their 440 registrants on the State Police website. If that is a best practice, the rest of New Hampshire needs another eight or 10 officers full time to handle the remaining 2100 registrants. The total cost easily exceeds ten times what the state collects from registrants. ..Continued.. by Chris Dornin, Founder, CCJR

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