The next two weeks could make a huge difference in the lives of more than 100,000 registrants and their families. That difference could be a decision by the Senate Appropriations Committee to release the Tiered Registry Bill (SB 421) from the committee’s Suspense File on May 25, the deadline for this action to be taken.
The Senate Appropriations Committee’s decision will be based, in part, upon the budget analysis for SB 421. Therefore, it is important to understand what the analysis has to say.
First, the budget analysis for SB 421 projects that there will be a major one-time cost of about $10 million over a three-year period to implement the Tiered Registry Bill. In an annual state budget of more than $150 billion, that is a small amount and could easily be absorbed.
Second, the budget analysis for SB 421 projects “minor to moderate costs savings” in the “tens of thousands” to local law enforcement agencies and only $75,000 annually to the state’s general fund. These projected savings are extremely low and are inconsistent with statements made during meetings of the CA Sex Offender Management Board regarding the number of registrants who will be eligible to petition for removal from the registry.
Third, the budget analysis for SB 421 includes references to the need for a “person-by-person review” that includes the original offense of offenses for which a person has been convicted. This language is troubling because it could include consideration of original charges, which are often “stacked” by District Attorneys. This language is also troubling because it is similar to language in the Tiered Registry Bill that requires judges to consider pre-conviction factors such as nature of offense, age of victim and whether victim was a stranger when decided whether an individual’s requirement to register will be terminated.
Finally, the budget analysis for SB 421 questions the amount of time it would take the CA Department of Justice to implement a tiered registry due, in large part, to make major changes to the agency’s existing IT systems. The analysis then suggests that the author of the bill “may wish to examine whether the current dates in the bill (2019) impose a realistic timeframe to implement a new registry.”
We will observe with concern the actions of the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 25. If the Committee is wise, it will release the Tiered Registry Bill from its Suspense File so that the bill can be voted upon by the full Senate on or before its June 2 deadline.
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