Tougher laws and law enforcement to give the public more accurate and timely information about violent sex offenders may be in the offing for Virginia, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. A state subcommittee yesterday approved more than three dozen recommendations to strengthen the state violent sex-offender registry, considered by proponents to be the public’s first line of defense against sex crime. The registry lists 13,000 criminals, 11,000 of them violent and 6,500 of them living among us. Some information on the Web site is inaccurate because the law relies heavily on the offenders’ cooperation and honesty; an estimated 8 percent of them are not complying.
Registered sex offenders must report address changes within 10 days of a move. Changes under consideration would improve police monitoring, impose new restrictions on offenders, tighten reporting requirements and stiffen punishment for failing to comply. Other proposals would place new responsibilities on the Virginia State Police, as well as law-enforcement agencies, schools, colleges, jails, and prisons across the state. “We’ve got to stop leaving hardened criminals to monitor themselves once they’re released. These aren’t choirboys; they’re sexual predators,” said Polly Franks of the National Coalition for Victims in Action. The task force proposed that state police verify, face to face, the new address of offenders within 30 days of a move, and verify registration information twice a year thereafter. The state police said that would require additional vehicles and 65 more state troopers, one for every 100 offenders who live at large. The cost would be an estimated $8.2 million in the first year –and $4.7 million in subsequent years.