SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A California senator who believes the state’s sex offender registry is broken says sex offenders may no longer have to register for life.
The bill, SB 384 would take lower-level sex offenders off the registry. Right now, four states including California, make all sex offenders register for life. And today, the registry tops 100,000 people in California. Some law enforcement officials say it’s working against them.
“They’re on the list and can’t get off,” said Gretchen Kocinsky, whose friend was arrested at a young age for a non-serious sex crime. “They are now married with children and can’t go volunteer at their kids’ school,” she said added.
Kocinsky believes anyone who isn’t a repeat offender, like her friend, should be taken off the registry and given another shot at life. Under California law, though, anyone convicted of a sex crime — serious or not — must register for life.
“When you’re on the registry, it could ruin your life, said,” Senator Scott Wiener.
Wiener says he’s standing behind SB 384, which would allow lower-level sex offenders to register for a minimum of 10 to 20 years instead of life. Sex offenders would then need to petition the court and the district attorney to remove them from the registry. Right now, California has over 100,000 people on the registry.
“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack if you’re trying to solve a crime,” said Bradley McCartt, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County.
McCartt says law enforcement used to rely on the registry as a tool to solve sex crimes. He says only keeping dangerous sex offenders on the registry would be doing law enforcement a favor.
“If something happens to a kid, you go straight to that list, you can figure out who the suspect is,” he said.
Some are on the fence about the bill. A victims’ rights group in Southern California states: “We need to lessen the burden on our law enforcement community when it comes to the daunting task of registration of the offenders. However, our number one priority needs to be the safety of our most vulnerable.”
Rapists, repeat offenders and criminals who use force on children would still be required to register for life. The bill would go before the Assembly later this week.
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