By Eric Bedner . . . The state Sentencing Commission is considering its legislative agenda, which includes making changes to the sex offender registry and reducing misdemeanor sentences by one day to prevent undocumented immigrants from being deported.
These and several other proposals were the subject of a public hearing Thursday at the Legislative Office Building.
One recommendation is to move from a conviction-based sex offender registry to a risk-based registry.
The categories of sex offenders who must register with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection based on the crime they were convicted of would remain the same, but the length of time on the registry, compliance requirements, and whether the information is public or accessible by only law enforcement would be determined by evaluating the registrant’s risk of re-offending.
Connecticut is currently one of the few states in the country that does not provide an opportunity for people to be removed from the list.
The public registry would be limited to a small number of high-risk people, and people would be allowed to petition to be removed from the list.
Amy Eppler Epstein, a lawyer with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, said that in her experience working with colleagues in shelter and housing situations, she found that people were denied housing and ended up in homeless shelters because they were on the registry, even though they “clearly were not public dangers.”
The removal provision in the proposal would be prospective only, which some critics say is not enough.
Cindy Prizio, executive director of Connecticut for One Standard of Justice, spoke of a man on the registry who committed a crime when he was 14 years old, was tried in adult court, and received a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years before being granted clemency after six years.
He remains on the lifetime registry, and even with the proposed reforms, wouldn’t be removed for nearly a decade.
“We must request total retroactivity,” Prizio said. “Everyone must be reclassified. We cannot leave behind low-risk to no-risk people.”
She said her organization could not support the proposal as it currently stands.