When a person is convicted on charges of certain sex crimes, he or she may be required to register on the state’s sex offender registry for a period of time following any applicable prison term. Depending on the severity of the offense, registration may be required for 10 years or for the rest of the offender’s life. Because such a registry is considered by most people to be important in maintaining public safety, there is a common belief that every person on the list still poses a danger to his or her community.
Members of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission, however, say that a “one-size-fits-all approach to registration of sex offenders” is not always in the public’s best interest. In 2015, the Connecticut General Assembly directed a Commission subcommittee to consider a risk-based alternative to the current offense-based system.
The subcommittee announced a risk-based proposal in October that would require an in-depth evaluation of each individual convicted of a sex crime. Alex Tsarkov, the sentencing commission’s executive director, said, “We’re not trying to make life easier for offenders. We’re trying to focus on public safety.”
The first sex offender registry in Connecticut was created in 1994 under the state’s Judicial Branch, but it was taken over by the state police in 1998. The public registry currently includes just over 5,000 names, including more than 2,600 offenders who must register for life. There is also a law enforcement-only registry that is visible to the police and other agencies but protects the identifies of certain victims from being released to the general public. There currently 80 names on that list.
Offenders who are registered are often limited in terms of housing and employment opportunities. The registry, according to skeptics, also creates a culture of “shunning and shaming,” which is not conducive to preventing registrants from offending again in the future.
The New Plan
Under the proposed program, a sex offender would be classified as either a low, moderate, or high risk of reoffending. Low-risk offenders would go on the law enforcement-only registry for 10 years while moderate-risk individuals would register on the public registry for 20 years. Those at the highest risk level would be required to register for life on the public list.
While the new plan calls for input from the victims of such crimes and their advocates, there is concern that victims will not always be available for future registration concerns. Victims’ rights representatives also expressed reservations regarding language in the plan “that makes sex offenders more sympathetic than they should be.”
The proposal is expected to undergo a review by the full Connecticut Sentencing Commission this month.
Call Us for Help
If you or a member of your family has been arrested on suspicion of a sex crime, an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney can help you understand the full extent of the charges against you. Call Woolf Law Firm, LLC at [[phone1]] for a free consultation today.