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Rhode Island State Senate Passes Changes to State's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act

The Rhode Island State Senate today passed important amendments to the Rhode Island's sexual offender registration and community notification laws. Filed at the request of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, the Act would implement several registration and notification procedures of the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"), Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 P.L. 109-248, 34 U.S.C. 16911 et. seq., as amended.

The legislation (S2586a) was sponsored by Senator Hanna Gallo (D District 27, Cranston, West Warwick).

"It is a priority of the Office of Attorney General, and me personally, to advocate for laws that better protect our community, and more so, laws that better protect our children from child sex offenders. Updating SORNA will give greater protections for the citizens of Rhode Island and will give law enforcement the information to keep sex offenders accountable. It is long overdue for Rhode Island to pass the SORNA legislation, thereby strengthening our sex offender registration and community notification law," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "I commend the Senate, specifically Chairwoman Gallo, for working with my office and our law enforcement partners to address concerns by interested parties and protecting fellow Rhode Islanders."

"Making these changes to our sexual offender registry and community notification laws particularly the updating of an out-of-date computer system will go a long way toward keeping our communities safe with a greater level of efficiency," said Senator Gallo. "I appreciate the opportunity to have worked with Attorney General Kilmartin to craft this overdue legislation." Of most importance, the act would allow for the purchase of a new sexual offender registry system that would improve the accuracy and completeness of data entered into the system, allow for better quality assurance at all levels of sex offender registration that will lead to greater public safety and sex offender management. The current registry and website software is archaic and not compliant with several Federal requirements in the areas of registration and/or community notification.

Updating the sexual offender registry system will provide important search functions or such features as an e-mail notice when a sex offender commences residence, employment, or school attendance within the state, a specified zip code, or a certain geographic radius are management important to public safety. These updates would provide opportunities for more efficient and effective sex offender notification in the State, allowing allow law enforcement the ability to focus their resources on the implementation and enforcement of sex offender laws. The improvements also have the possibility in saving municipalities financially as community notification could be satisfied via e-mail notice rather than paper notice.

The act also requires offenders to provide the following information for the registry: name, date of birth, social security number, current digitized photograph, accurate physical description, driver's license, identification card, passport, immigration documents, residence address, telephone numbers, internet identifiers, vehicle information, employment information, school information, criminal history, fingerprints and DNA.

Companion legislation (H7541), sponsored by Representative Robert E. Craven, Sr. (D District 32, North Kingstown), has been heard the House of Representative Committee on Judiciary and held for further study.

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