This year the Legislature will consider several bills related to the sex offender registry.
Generally speaking, sex offender registration became popular in the 1990s as a way for the public to identify sex offenders in their communities. Since then municipalities across the U.S. have taken registration one step further by adopting residency restrictions that prevent sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds, and parks.
However, policymakers and law enforcement have questioned whether sex offender registration actually makes communities safer. Public registration can make it difficult for offenders to reintegrate with society, which in turn may make them more likely to reoffend. Residency restrictions can also make it difficult for offenders to find housing; this can force offenders underground.
Here are the 2016 bills related to the sex offender registry in New Hampshire:
SB 468 creates a process to allow a sex offender who was convicted prior to enactment of the sex offender registry, to petition the court to have his or her name removed from the registry. This bill is in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that sex offenders must be allowed to petition for removal from the registry if they were convicted prior to the registry’s creation in 1994.
Supporters of SB 468 argue that the Legislature needs to formalize the removal process to include statements from victims, consideration of other convictions, and more.
Opponents of SB 468 argue that the process in the bill is too restrictive, contrary to the Supreme Court ruling.
HB 1318 similarly modifies the process for any sex offender petitioning for removal from the registry. It requires that an offender pose no risk of reoffending and prove that removal from the list will assist in rehabilitation.
HB 1343 states that an individual will be subject to whatever registration laws were in place at the time he or she offended. This prevents retroactive application of any sex offender registration laws.
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