CT: Lawmakers Missed an Opportunity to Reform Sex-Offender Registry

[law.com – 6/28/18]

Two years ago, the Connecticut Legislature held hearings on a variety of bills that would have modified the state’s sex offender registry. Rather than adopt any change, because of the complexities of our sex offender laws the Legislature asked the state Sentencing Commission to study the effectiveness of the current sex offender registration requirements. The commission was to report back by 2018.

Under current law, when sex offenders have served their sentences and are released into the community, they must register on a public sex offender registry. The registration is for either 10 years or life, depending on the offense committed. The registry is operated by the state police.

In order to comply with the Legislature’s request, the commission set up a special subcommittee to study the effectiveness of the current registry. The subcommittee had representation from all the stakeholders, including state and local police, state attorney’s office, corrections, parole, judiciary, victims’ advocates, and others, a total of about 40 people.

After two years of study, including numerous public hearings and testimony by nationally known experts on treatment of sex offenders, as well as reports on how other states’ registries operate, with almost unanimous agreement the subcommittee produced a report recommending major changes to our sex offender registry laws. These changes would have resulted in a smaller, more focused and enforceable registry. Also, they would lessen the barriers to the offenders’ successful reintegration into the community. The 204-page report was adopted by the full Sentencing Commission and submitted to the Judiciary Committee of the Legislature in December 2017.

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Even with favorable reports such as this, there never seems to be any loosening of the laws. Despite the research, more and more laws keep popping up.

There are chinks in the armor That Are Not Reversable. The big one is coming.