A House bill that would change the state’s Sex Offender Registry needs one more positive vote to go to the Senate.
Representative Rodney Schad (R-Versailles) is sponsoring the proposal that uses risk-based assessments to establish a tiered system for dealing with crimes that currently involve the registry. Those guilty of crimes considered the least serious or lacking a sexual component are removed from the registry. Those guilty of more serious crimes can apply to a judge to have their name removed from the registry after 10 or 20 years, depending on the severity of their crime.
Schad’s plan identifies the crimes of kidnapping involving a sex crime, forcible rape or sodomy, sex trafficking and first degree child molestation as crimes for which those convicted can not successfully apply for removal from the registry for 20 years after they were first required to register. “They will be required to serve their time in prison, which may be ten to thirty years, and then upon release they have to be on the registry for twenty years. So we’re talking about anywhere from thirty to fifty years of proving themselves crime free before they would ever be eligible to be exempt from the registry.”
Schad says his bill does nothing regarding punishment or criminal records. He says over time, the registry has become something it was never meant to be: an element of punishment. “Over time in our attempt to look tough on crime, we have piled on to the point that the registry no longer means anything to the public … We need to get back to where the community and law enforcement are focused primarily on the true dangers and risk to society in our neighborhoods.”
Schad says fifty-six percent of offenders on the registry report they are unemployed. “They are unemployed because of one of two things: they cannot get a job, or after they have gotten a job their employer finds out that they are on the registry and they choose to let them go.”
Schad says he understands the concerns of those who are worried about making any change to the registry. “Throughout this process I have tried to put myself in the place of the parents of those children or in the place of the victim themselves … I have worked through this and the committee (on Crime and Public Safety) has worked through this delicately.”
The House is anticipated to take a final vote on the bill on Thursday. Schad says there is interest in the proposal in the Senate, but no Senator has stepped forward to carry it.
AUDIO: Representative Rodney Schad presents his bill to the floor, 3:45