More than 20 states have adopted rules allowing sex offenders to be held for life, even after they have paid their court-determined debts to society. The Washington Post says that Maryland has largely gone another route, choosing instead to employ a web of supervision laws to surround offenders and stay poised to pounce on any violations and return offenders to prison.
There have been hundreds of quiet successes and countless individual efforts by police and parole officers that have kept the vast majority of Maryland’s 4,000 sex offenders in check. The Christmastime killing of an 11-year-old girl, allegedly by one of the state’s high-risk registered sex offenders, has shaken public faith in the state’s ability to identify and keep its worst offenders on a short leash. Failures by members of all three branches of government during two administrations have left holes in Maryland’s defense of children and victims of sexual assault. Today, a legislative committee is scheduled to begin hearing the first of at least 52 bills to tighten restrictions on sex offenders introduced since the December killing of Sarah Haley Foxwell. Most add to or amend current laws in hopes of closing loopholes that authorities say appear to have allowed Thomas Leggs Jr., 30, to have been out of jail while awaiting trail for a previous crime on the day police say he kidnapped, assaulted, and killed Sarah and left her body in a rural area.