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For Immediate Release
June 13, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN CONTINUES TO PRESS FOR REFORM OF
MARYLAND SEXUAL PREDATOR LAWS

As the Maryland General Assembly convenes in a Special Session this week, Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran is back in Annapolis working closely with House Speaker Michael Busch, Senate President Mike Miller, and other lawmakers to revive legislation he initiated to increase supervision of sex offenders and broaden community notification once these offenders are released into Maryland neighborhoods. The bill died on the last day of the regular 2006 session when time ran out to pass a Conference Committee report agreed upon by members of both chambers.

Attorney General Curran’s leadership on this legislation builds upon many years of concern about the danger of sex offenders and his extensive research into how Maryland can better protect children and communities from victimization. To assess other states’ approaches, Curran traveled in 1999 to Kansas to get a first-hand look at its civil commitment program, he went to Chicago this year to meet with Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Illinois’ recent passage of stronger sex offender legislation, and he has spoken with dozens of other Attorneys General on sexual predator reforms. In addition, General Curran has met personally with police officers from the Baltimore City Sex Offense Unit, former and current Maryland Parole Commissioners, executive members of the Maryland Sheriffs Association, and state legislators.

“ Before I am the Attorney General, I’m a father and grandfather. Protecting your children and mine is one of my most important jobs,” says Curran.

The legislation, which contains lifetime supervision and enhanced community notification, fills several gaps in Maryland’s sex offenders laws. First, it creates extended parole supervision for the most dangerous violent and child sex offenders for as long as necessary, from three years to lifetime. Under current law, sex offenders are released from parole or probation regardless of whether or not they are still dangerous. The proposal requires that extended supervision continue unless and until an offender no longer poses an unacceptable risk to community safety. The bill also creates specially-trained Sex Offender Management teams to conduct the supervision, with the Maryland Parole Commission setting special conditions for each offender, like GPS electronic monitoring and restrictions on employment.

“ The most important thing is this: an offender should never be let go from supervision without a risk assessment showing he is no longer dangerous,” Curran emphasized. “Every sex offender is different, and we need the flexibility to tailor the length and manner of supervision to each individual offender.“

The bill also broadens notification requirements when sex offenders are released into the community. It addresses affirmative notice to neighborhood police officers, schools, day care centers, and other places which serve children. It also enables people to provide information about convicted offenders to authorities directly through the Sex Offender Registry website, and to receive email notification when offenders are released into their counties. Finally, it increases penalties for non-compliance with sex offender registration requirements.

“ Busy moms and dads should not have to check the Internet every day to see whether a sex offender has moved in down the block,” Curran said. “Other states do a lot better job of making sure people are informed, and Maryland should follow suit. A more informed public is a better protected public.”

Aware that this legislation deals only with known, convicted sex offenders who have already committed crimes, Attorney General Curran has also promoted better community education as the key to preventing future tragedies by the majority of sex offenders who are never caught. To this end, Attorney General Curran has created a booklet, Protection from Sex Offenders, which has been sent to all 24 Maryland County School Superintendents and is also available on his website, http://www.oag.state.md.us/sexualOffender/index.htm. The booklet contains facts and statistics about sexual offending, advice from professionals on how to protect children from unidentified sex offenders, guidance on how to use the Sex Offender Registry, and explanations in plain language of many of the terms used in the Registry.

   

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