January 26, 2016

Lawmakers consider bill to address sex offender registry removals

1-26-16 New Hampshire:

Supreme Court rules that some offenders can petition for removal

CONCORD, N.H. —A landmark New Hampshire Supreme Court decision has opened the door for more than 800 registered sex offenders to petition to be removed from the list.

In March, the court ruled that the lifetime registry requirement for crimes committed before 1994 was "overly punitive" but the ruling left it up to the Legislature to determine the process.

Since that Supreme Court decision, at least five tier-three sex offenders have petitioned to get off the registry list, but their victims have not been notified because a process is still not in place. A bill being considered by lawmakers aims to change that.

"I'm not longer that little girl who's afraid," said a woman who testified before the committee considering the proposal. "I'm here to speak for myself and all victims who are still afraid or who may not even know their offender has the opportunity to go before the court and petition to get off the registry."

The woman, who is not being identified by News 9, said she was molested two or three times a week. She said the assaults went on for years, and the man responsible recently petitioned to get off the sex offender registry.

"I swore I would never let anyone hurt me again, and yet he's here hurting me again," she said.

Senate Bill 468 would establish a process for the petition that includes a risk assessment and requires the court to notify the prosecutor, the victim or the victim's family, and permit those parties to be heard on the petition.

Proponents of the bill reminded lawmakers of the crimes tier-three offenders have been convicted of.

"The offenders are convicted of the most serious crimes: homicides, aggravated felonious sexual assault, kidnapping and any offender convicted of more than two sexual offenses," said Lyn Schollett, executive director of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

In the case of the woman who testified, the child rapist fought his legal battle through a lawsuit under the name John Doe, testifying that the lifetime sex offender registry requirement prevented him from applying for subsidized housing.

Proponents said the bill would close a loophole.

"New Hampshire statutes already have provisions on the books for how tier one and tier two, those less serious offenders, go about petitioning the court to be removed," Schollett said. "That process is already laid out very clearly in the law."

John Doe is still on the sex offender registry. A Superior Court judge ruled in December that he must remain on the registry until he can prove he's not a danger to society.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is taking the bill under consideration. ..Source.. by Amy Coveno

No comments: