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July 25, 2009

"U.S. adds to sex offender registry confusion"

The title of this post is the headline of this effective new piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Here are excerpts:

Three rounds of legal battles in the Missouri Supreme Court still have not cleared confusion looming over the state's sex offender registry, as prior offenders are rushing to court to file new challenges. The suits are seeking to stop local officials from enforcing new federal guidelines, which were supposed to be in place across the country by this week.

The federal law creates a national registry of people convicted of sex offenses and expands the type of offenses for which a person must register. "It really has muddied the issue," said attorney Julie Brothers, who filed for a temporary restraining order this week in St. Louis County on behalf of an offender known as John Doe. "There are some major conflicts that are super confusing."

The confusion centers around about 4,300 offenders whom Missouri had exempted from its sex offender registry but who are required to register under the federal law, known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

The conflict could cost Missouri hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal grant money if the state does not comply with the federal guidelines. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has given every state a one-year extension on the deadline to meet federal standards. But as states review the situation, some lawmakers and experts are concerned about the cost of complying....

The federal government can't mandate states to make the changes, experts said. So instead, Congress threatened to take away 10 percent of a federal law enforcement grant if states don't comply. Missouri would stand to loose an estimated $400,000; Illinois' total loss would be about $850,000, according to the Justice Policy Institute.

Lawmakers in Virginia asked experts to guess how much taxpayers would spend on the changes. The Virginia Department of Planning and Budget decided the first year would cost more than $12 million. Virginia only stood to lose about $400,000 in U.S. grant money each year, according to the department's documents.

July 25, 2009 at 04:55 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I have a solution. Suppose all 4300 former offenders simply refused to register. The state would have to try them and send them to prison. I don't know what the trials would cost, but at $25,000 or so per year per person for incarceration, that comes to $10,750,000 per year for 4300 prisoners. In addition, the state would have to find 4300 more prison beds. I doubt the state of Missouri would be able to foot the bill. So folks, JUST SAY NO!

Posted by: disillusioned layman | Jul 25, 2009 6:25:48 PM

Fines are one thing; GPS monitoring would be a better solution. As an employee of Integrascan a Background Check company we see sex offenders in many areas that have not registered, not just in MO, But nationally.

It is a broken system that makes few checks, This is just a drop in the bucket, GPS monitoring of these offenders is the only solution, Private companies can monitor better than government agencies. Background checks are imperative to keeping our communities and children safe.

Integrascan.com

Posted by: Integrasscan | Jul 25, 2009 8:34:24 PM

I like the fact that states are actually starting to examine the cost of these federal programs and refusing when the cost isn't worth it. Perhaps the power of the purse is running out as the feds try to further micromanage every aspect of state government.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 25, 2009 8:42:35 PM

As so often happens, it takes the threat of additional cost for government to correct policy.

Posted by: Criminal Background Check | Jan 8, 2010 3:59:48 PM

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