Friday, September 17, 2010

RI - Attorney general candidates exchange allegations about protecting children from sex offenders

Original Article

Just the usual election time kids fighting. If you are being elected, bust out the sex offender issues, and slam your opponent for being "soft" on sex offenders. Sounds to me like Kilmartin is doing better than the baby Wallin.

09/17/2010

By Tracy Breton

PROVIDENCEErik B. Wallin, the Republican candidate for attorney general, is slamming his Democratic opponent, state Rep. Peter F. Kilmartin, a former Pawtucket police officer, “for his failure to protect children from sex offenders and child predators.”

In a news release Thursday, Wallin, a former state and military prosecutor, criticizes Kilmartin for being unable to get legislation passed that would have required the state to revamp the way it classifies and registers sex offenders to comply with federal mandates under the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act.

Representative Kilmartin, as House Majority Whip –– which is one of the highest leadership positions in the House –– could not shepherd this important legislation through?” Wallin asks in his news release. “If he didn’t get it passed in the last two sessions of the General Assembly as a House leader, what should we expect of him if he were the attorney general?

But public records –– and the General Assembly’s own website –– show that Kilmartin was a cosponsor of a House bill introduced in May (H 8152 Sub A) that passed that chamber near the end of the session. It died in the Senate Judiciary Committee after lawyers who represent juvenile offenders raised alarms. The bill would have required some juvenile sex offenders as young as 14 to be listed, with their photographs, in a national registry of sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

Kilmartin, responding to Wallin’s accusations, blasted his Republican opponent for misrepresenting his record and claimed that he “is the only candidate with a proven record of enforcing and passing tough laws that protect Rhode Island children –– which is why law enforcement” supports him for attorney general.

The bill at issue is designed to bring Rhode Island into compliance with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which sets strict rules for monitoring sex offenders. In April, Rhode Island was given a second extension –– until July 2011 –– to comply with the federal mandates. The current attorney general, Patrick C. Lynch, says the cost of complying could be “prohibitive” and the tab is expected to run into millions of dollars. Last year, it was estimated that the first-year cost of implementing the law in Rhode Island would amount to more than $1.7 million. The federal mandates require each state to set up a central data bank and hire workers to run it as well as chase down sex-offenders –– including some whose sentences were completed decades ago –– who fail to register. States that don’t comply would lose 10 percent of the federal financing they receive for sex-offender management programs and other law-enforcement and justice initiatives.

In his news release, Wallin also criticized Kilmartin for sponsoring a bill that would allow registered sex offenders who, prior to July 2, 2008, had bought a house within 300 feet of a school to remain there and not be forced to sell the property.

Kilmartin said he’d been “instrumental in passing” a bill in 2008 extending the distance from which a sex offender could not live within a school zone, but that, in 2009, at the request of a constituent who was a sex offender, he introduced an amendment so that the man –– who had stayed out of trouble since his conviction — and his wife would not be “kicked out of the house” they owned.

What message does that send to parents?” Wallin asked. “So, Representative Kilmartin believed that allowing sex offenders to remain next to our children in school was a good idea –– well, as both a father of two young boys and candidate for attorney general, I certainly disagree and am shocked he introduced this bill. As attorney general, I will be protecting our children –– not sex offenders and child predators,” Wallin said.


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