May 2, 2005
Sex offenders are required to register with the State once they are convicted of any type of sexual assault. However, there are loopholes that even sex offenders in our area get away with.
"The whole purpose of that website is so that people can know who are in their community so they can take the appropriate action," said Jon Zug, a Commonwealth Attorney.
That's where some of the loopholes lie. Officials say sex offenders that are convicted of a violent sexual assault must register every 90 days for the rest of their life, but sex offenders that are convicted of a sexual assault without violence are only required to register every six months for 10 years. More than 1,300 sex offenders could be living in the Commonwealth right now without having to register.
Statewide, officials estimate there are as many as 600 offenders with no picture in the system at all. Ultimately, it's up to the offenders to provide new address information when needed, which sometimes is easier said than done.
"I see them as a regular everyday member of the community and as easy as it is for any of us to get up and move somewhere, it's that easy for a sex offender to do it also," said Megan Milia, of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency.
It's just as easy to move from one state to another, but officials from the Virginia State Crime Commission said they'll form an 18-member task force to improve the state registry system and close some of the loopholes.
"They may be looking at it as a separate violation to leave a state without prior notice, that would be a way to close that potential loophole," said Zug. "It's a bigger problem then just registering on the registry... we need to bring awareness to the entire scope of the problem," said Milia.
The first task force meeting will be held in the General Assembly Building in Richmond at 10 a.m. on June 7. It will be open to the public.
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