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Schumer Announces Senate Passes Sex Offender Legislation With New Federal Tracking System That Would End State-To-State Disparity In Registration And Notification Procedures

Schumer, Member of Judiciary Committee, Champions Bill Through Senate

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today that the Senate late last night unanimously passed the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (S. 1086), comprehensive national legislation specifically designed to protect children from sexual predators. Once enacted into law, the bill will create a national database and require convicted sex offenders to register their whereabouts regularly in person. Failure to comply would be a felony. Existing sexoffender sites are managed from state to state, and do not correspond with each other. Under current law, convicts are required to register usually only once per year, by mail, and failure to comply is only a misdemeanor. The bill also authorizes funding for tracking devices on sex offenders.

Convicted sex offenders shouldnt be able to escape the letter of the law just by moving across state lines, Schumer said. Having access to information about sexual predators in your community is a right, not a privilege, and parents should not have to go through a bureaucratic morass just to assess whether their neighborhoods are safe.

Under current laws, sex offender registration requirements differ widely from state to state and as a result, many get lost in the shuffle, fall off the sex offender list, and are no longer tracked. Nationwide there are over 550,000 sex offenders, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Parents for Megan[s law estimates that 24% or between 100,000 and 150,000 arent even registered, meaning over 100,000 sex offenders are roaming the streets unknown to local law enforcement.

Schumer, a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee joined Senators Joseph Biden (DDE) and Orrin Hatch (RUT) in pushing for the bill. Specifically, the bipartisan legislation would:

" Create A National Sex Offender Registry: a new federally maintained sex offender DNA database will be used by law enforcement and prosecutors.

" Create Stronger Registration Standards for Offenders: convicted offenders will have to register prior to release from prison or supervised release. Current law does not require registration before release from prison and sex offenders generally only have to register once a year. Under the new law, the duration to register for a firsttime sex offender increases from 10 years to 20 years and for second offenders and sexually violent offenders for their lifetime. Additionally if there is a change in status (job, address, etc) offenders are required to register that change immediately.

" Create A Searchable Statewide Sex Offender Registry: Requires the states, not local governments, to maintain a multifield, searchable sex offender registry.

" Establishes Strict Penalties For Failure To Register: Makes failing to register or to update registry information a federal felony.

" Links State Registries so that an offense committed in one state does not go unrecognized in another.

Thousands of sex offenders are unaccounted for because of varying state laws. In fact, in the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR), the database used by the FBI, there are only 385,343 names listed. This means that out of the 550,000 sex offenders registered with states, the government can not identify 165,000 of them. The burden of registration falls to the states to register with the FBI and not all states have the technology, training and resources to do so.

For example if a sex offender moves from New Jersey to New York State and fails to register, the only way to find them is through the FBI database. While some states do a good job keeping their numbers up to date for the national database, others, like Utah have 8 names in the NSOR database, but over 8,000 sex offenders. California only has 49,000 in the NSOR database, but over 100,000 registered sex offenders. If a sex offender moved to NY and wasnt on the NSOR no one would know his whereabouts, unless he committed another crime. In New York, there are 21,000 registered sex offenders with an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 who arent registered.

According to the Department Of Justice, released sex offenders are four times more likely to be rearrested for crime and, on average, child molesters only served 43% of sentences.

The bottom line is each state has different laws, different standards, and different ways of keeping track of people, and without a standardized federal procedure, dangerous criminals are falling through the cracks, Schumer said.