Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act: New Requirements for Offenders Effective October 1

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Towson, MD (October 1, 2010)---Registered sex offenders in Maryland face a number of changes to the law as Maryland comes into compliance with a provision of the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act. The Maryland Legislature this year passed a bill helping the state comply with what’s known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The new laws, effective today, add to and strengthen a number of registration requirements. Among them are a requirement for “homeless” registrants to register in person weekly; tougher prosecution for failure to provide a broader range of accurate registration information; increased check-ins with local law enforcement for certain offenders; and new tiers of registration that make it easier to compare levels across states. Also, anyone currently in the correctional or parole and probation system who has a prior sex offense conviction---even if he or she is not currently being supervised for such a crime--- will be required to register retroactively as a sex offender.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ (DPSCS) Sex Offender Registry Unit, which is responsible for the maintenance of the website, has been working throughout the summer to make these changes, some of which will be ongoing as registrants check in with their local authorities who are responsible for enforcement of registry requirements. Over 5,000 letters went out to registrants in the past few weeks to prepare them for the changes. Local law enforcement has also met with registrants in their area to relay information about registration terms and frequency of registration. The new tiers include I – 15 years, II – 25 years and III – lifetime registration. Tier III registrants will be required to check in with local law enforcement four times a year, as opposed to twice a year.

In addition to improving registration for sexual offenders, DPSCS’ Division of Parole and Probation (DPP) has been at the forefront in the development and implementation of effective strategies for the management and treatment of sexual offenders who are currently on parole or probation (not all registrants on the SOR are under DPP supervision). Currently, DPP supervises more than 2,300 sexual offenders statewide, and is also responsible for the more than 1,000 sexual offenders who have been sentenced but not yet released to supervision.

DPP uses a special risk instrument specifically designed to assess sexual offenders to examine every single sexual offender in its system, and initially places all offenders under the highest level of supervision, which includes daily telephone contacts, weekly face-to-face meetings, mandatory treatment referrals based upon risk assessment, and at least monthly verification of compliance with all terms of supervision and Registry requirements. Offenders are moved to lower supervision levels only on the basis of consistent successful compliance and satisfactory risk assessment scores.

During the eighteen-month period between July 2008 and December 2009, an average of greater than 90% of all sex offender cases closed each month by DPP were closed with either a satisfactory status or by an offender’s supervision being revoked due to a technical violation. Of those who did incur subsequent arrests during that period, less than one third of one percent were charged with new sexual offenses.

See the attached fact sheet or our Sex Offender Registry page for more information.