David Allyn Dokich - Serial Child Rapist / High Risk Sex Offender

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Bills would toughen sex offender notification laws

By Ledyard King, Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — Convicted sex offenders would have to check in with local law enforcement at least twice a year and would face prison time if they didn't under proposals in Congress to strengthen registration and community notification standards.

The bills also would require states to register offenders prior to their leaving prison and double the time — from 10 years to 20 — that offenders must remain registered.

The legislation would be the biggest overhaul of federal sex offender laws since the mid-1990s, when Congress enacted minimum rules that states had to follow in tracking sex offenders and alerting neighbors to their presence.

Loopholes in state laws and a lack of money to track offenders have left wide gaps, advocates say. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that of the nearly 550,000 registered sex offenders nationwide, as many as 100,000 are unaccounted for.

In pushing for tougher monitoring, advocates point to the murder of Jessica Lunsford. Authorities say the 9-year-old schoolgirl from Florida was kidnapped, raped and buried alive a year ago by a registered sex offender whom police had lost track of because he had moved.

Congress is working on legislation designed to better track sexual predators as they move from prison to communities and from state to state. Details are still being worked out, but the consensus is that some states need to do a more thorough job of registering offenders, and the federal government ought to help states monitor offenders' whereabouts and notify local communities.

Lawmakers are divided on how far states should have to go.

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