Online Sex Offender Registry Delayed

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(Host) It appears very likely that the start up date for Vermont’s Internet sex offenders registry will be delayed for several months. A special legislative committee says more time is needed to write the rules and regulations for the registry.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports

(Kinzel) When the Legislature passed a bill establishing an Internet sex offenders registry last winter, backers of the proposal were hoping that the registry could be up and operating by the first of October.

A special legislative committee that’s responsible for implementing the project has just learned that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before members of the public will able to get information about some of the state’s higher risk sex offenders on the Internet. Windsor senator John Campbell, who chairs the committee, says there are a number of reasons for the delay:

(Campbell) “We’re going to be taking testimony to determine what is the best method and recommendations as to the individuals outside of the top category of the most serious offenders who else should be put on the Web.”

(Kinzel) Campbell also wants the committee to review a plan proposed by Governor Jim Douglas this week that would allow the state to involuntarily commit a sex offender to the Vermont State Hospital after they have served all their jail time, if a review panel finds that the individual is still a threat to the public. Campbell is not enthusiastic about this approach:

(Campbell) “My initial reaction is, if we’re concerned about the people because of their level of reoccurrence or the threat to the community, they should receive a longer prison sentence and make sure they have treatment there – rather than try to let them get out when they max out and then all of a sudden immediately put them in the State Hospital where we’re spending anywhere again from $75,000 to $225,000 a year.”

(Kinzel) The Vermont Association for Mental Health is also expressing strong concerns about the governor’s plan. VAMH director Ken Libertoff says the proposal “creates more issues and problems than it would solve and raises new concerns about civil rights, treatment approaches and patient safety.”

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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