TOPEKA — A Kansas House bill contemplating changes to juvenile offender registration has been delayed so that it can be reviewed by the Judicial Council.
The council will review the legislation and make recommendations on how to proceed, Rep. J. Russell Jennings, R-Lakin, said during a committee meeting last week. No legislative action is expected this session.
Last month, three people spoke in favor of the measure, which proposed treating juvenile sex offenders the same as adult sex offenders in terms of registration requirements. Information on adult sex offenders is publicly available. In juvenile cases, judges have discretion on making registration public and on the length of registration.
The bill was propelled by the August 2017 double homicide of former Garden City resident Alyssa Runyon and her daughter Zaylynn Paz. The pair were murdered in Newton by a man who had been convicted of sex crimes as a juvenile and whose information wasn’t on the public offender registry.
Sarah Good, Runyon’s aunt, testified that current law prioritizes the rights of the offender over the rights of the general public. Changing the law gives the public the opportunity to be aware, informed and protected, she said.
Runyon’s father and Rep. John Whitmer, a Wichita Republican, also testified as proponents of the bill.
Several individuals and groups, including the Kansas Department of Corrections, opposed the measure.
Benet Magnuson, executive director of Kansas Appleseed, said Kansas case law has determined that it is ineffective and unfair to punish youths as though they were adults.