A get-tough policy toward sex offenders tops the Maryland legislature’s agenda this year and has emerged as a major campaign issue in the race for governor, says the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. are unveiling plans on the issue. Lawmakers today will start the debate. With political heavyweights — including the state attorney general — pushing similar legislation, it is likely that some variation of a more stringent monitoring of child sex offenders will be adopted by April.
Eight bills to be discussed at a Senate hearing today include the same general ideas: lifetime monitoring of some sex offenders and stiffer penalties for those criminals who do not comply with required registration. A handful of bills go further than O’Malley’s and Ehrlich’s similar proposals, such as committing sexually violent predators to an institution once they are released from prison. Sen. Brian E. Frosh, chairman of the senate committee that will hear testimony on the bills, said, “We have to ask whether we have reached the saturation point. Are we just posturing, or are we doing something productive?” The issue began receiving attention from state leaders after the Sun reported in July that nearly one in five of the more than 4,300 addresses recorded in the state’s sex offender registry is inaccurate.