WCAV-WVAW-WAHU | Charlottesville, Virginia | News

State Redesigns Sex Offender Registry

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

June 12, 2006

Authorities said revamping the sex offender registry website will make it easier for people to know when there is a sexual predator in their area and help police make sure offenders following the law.

Delegate Rob Bell said a task force found the Virginia sex offender registry had missing photographs and outdated information.

"We had lost track of hundreds of sex offenders," said Bell.

About 300 sexual predators never registered with the state once they were done serving time. This is why Bell and other lawmakers decided to make some changes to the system.

State officials updated sex offenders profiles, included nonviolent sex offenders to the registry and started checking up on the offenders more often.

"[There are] much more regular updates. They have probation officers go by and see if they are really working where they say they are working and living were they say they are living. That's the kind of thing that we need to do," said Bell.

Tracking their every move is one of best ways to prevent it from happening again, according to Bell, especially since studies show most sex offenders will re-offend within FIVE years.

"Armed robbery studies show that after a certain age people will just stop doing it, but sex offenders will do it into their 50s, 60s, and 70s and so we really have to keep an eye on them if we're trying to keep children safe," said Bell.

State officials hope this new easier to navigate website will encourage parents to be more aware.

This February the General Assembly also passed several bills that will strengthen the state's sex offender laws. Under the new laws, offenders found guilty of certain sex offenses against children younger than 13, will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Offenders face a sentence of life in prison if they offend a second time. Once convicted, the offender must also wear a GPS tracking device so the state can monitor them.

If you would like more information on the sex offender registry, log onto
http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov.


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