House passes online sex offender registry bill

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(Host) On Tuesday, the Vermont House gave strong support to legislation that will establish a sex offender registry on the Internet next year. The vote was 129-to-9.

Under the bill, information about people convicted of serious sexual assault crimes and who are considered to be a high risk to the public, would be available at a special Web site. The information includes a picture of the offender, the town in which they live, their date of birth and whether or not they completed a sex offender treatment program.

Burlington Representative Kurt Wright urged his colleagues to support the bill:

(Wright) “Mr. Speaker, I believe this is a good and important piece of legislation. Does it address every question around sexual predators and provide safety for every citizen? No, it does not. But do citizens have the right to know where a potential sexual predator is living? I believe they do.”

(Host) But Burlington Representative Bob Kiss, who’s a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that reviewed this issue, said the bill would do little to actually protect the public:

(Kiss) “I believe we also learned that electronic posting of sexual offenders does not make Vermont safer. In fact, it is more likely to have a negative consequence on the offender’s reentry into society while it gives the community a false sense of security.”

(Host) The Senate, which has already passed its own Internet sex offenders registry bill, will now decide if it wants to accept the House’s proposal or seek a conference committee to negotiate the differences between the two.

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