By Katie Lannan, State House News Service . . . A host of bills dealing with sex offender registration encountered pushback Tuesday from advocates and offenders who urged lawmakers to consider whether the measures were meant to prevent recidivism or to serve as additional punishments.
Legislation now before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary includes measures that would establish restrictions on where certain sex offenders can live or spend time, and other proposals that would make more information available about some offenders.
New Start Project founder Tony Smith, whose organization helps people who have been incarcerated, spoke against a bill (H 1407) that would allow victims to request and obtain the home, work and school addresses of the person who committed a sex offense against them.
Smith said that some sex offenders who participate in his program have expressed fears of retaliation by victims’ families. He called on lawmakers to focus on “risk prevention” and on ensuring any new legislation would actually promote public safety.
“How do we provide opportunities for people who come home, whatever classification they have as it relates to sex offenses, how do we create opportunities for them to succeed as well? Many people in our program worked tirelessly hard to reintegrate. Their number one problem is overcoming stigma and shame that follows them after incarceration,” he said.
Lawmakers who sponsored the bills dealing with sex offenders said they were trying to update laws to provide law enforcement with new tools.
Rep. Tackey Chan, a Quincy Democrat, filed a bill that would require sex offenders to include email addresses and social media accounts with their registration (H 1235). He said that Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Florida, Colorado, Louisiana have passed similar laws.
“The bill does not create new penalties, the bill does not create new people to include as sex offenders,” Chan said. “It only requires the current application and forms to add one additional piece of information.”
After a homeless Level 3 sex offender began spending time around parks and beaches in Yarmouth last year, Rep. Brian Mannal said he had been shocked to learn that behavior was not illegal. The Barnstable Democrat put forward legislation (H 3445) that would ban certain registered sex offenders from locations including playgrounds, parks, libraries, schools, youth camps, mini golf courses, go-cart tracks, trampoline parks, batting cages.
“Basically, what we’re seeking to do is create child safety zones — which are places where children are known to congregate — and for the specific purpose of not allowing pedophiles, level three sex offenders who have committed acts of abuse towards children, to be able to loiter and engage with people who potentially fit in with their threats,” Mannal said. (Read full article at lowellsun.com)