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KS: Criminal justice panel hashes out potential changes to Kansas offender registry

TOPEKA — Criminal justice advocates, experts and law enforcement are debating potential changes to the Kansas drug and sex offender registry, including whether registries should be made public and an exit mechanism for some offenders.

Of primary concern for the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission Subcommittee on Proportionality and Sentencing is whether drug offenders should be included on a public registry or if that information should be available only to law enforcement. Under Kansas law, those with a drug conviction are required to register on the same public list as more than 10,000 convicted sex offenders.

As of March 1, 2021, the Kansas Public Offender Registry contained the names and addresses of 5,777 drug offenders. The full registry, which includes other offenders, is approaching 1% of the state population, leading many critics to argue the list has become bloated.

“I don’t think it should, especially the drug side, keep somebody from getting a decent job if you don’t have a job. That’s just plain common sense,” said former Marysville Police Chief Todd Ackerman. He said information put together by the Council of State Governments indicated requiring an offender to register for the list did not reduce recidivism.

Ackerman oversees the subcommittee, which met Thursday to prepare a report for the full commission to discuss. Any final recommendations to the Legislature on the public registry will be determined when the commission approves a full report.

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