By M.J. Ellington
MONTGOMERY - Sex offenders living in Alabama communities got an expanded set of rules to live by on July 1.
And law officers who track them got new tools to enforce those new rules.
The rules and tools are part of the state’s new sex offender law, a 96-page replacement for the state’s 2005 sex offender law and related laws passed since then.
For some groups, including sheriff offices and police departments, the law will increase the offender reporting requirements and the related paperwork they must maintain. But the law clears up some fuzzy areas of the old law, making enforcement easier.
For some offenders, especially homeless people and day laborers, the required times they must report their whereabouts increases along with reporting fees. Other offenders, primarily people convicted of statutory rape as teenagers, have a way to gain reprieve from lifelong registry as a sex offender.
|Sen. Cam Ward|
Changes in the new law guarantee the state will not lose $500,000 in federal justice assistance grants each year.
- But, overall, it will cost more than this to enforce the laws.
“Eighty percent of it was making sure we are in compliance with the national Adam Walsh Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act,” Ward said.
He said if the state had not revised sections of the 2005 state sex offender reporting act, the state could have lost the funding permanently.
Ward said the new law eases reporting requirements on some 17-year-old offenders who had sex with a consenting, slightly younger teen. The 2005 law required people convicted of statutory rape with a consenting partner to remain on the sex offender registry for life, even if the two married later.
The 2011 law allows those offenders to petition the court to come off the registry, Ward said.
The lawmaker said the new law increases the number of times an offender has to register each year from two to four times, and it ups the fine, if convicted, by $250. Offenders living out of prison also have ongoing expenses related to the law.
- Of course, extort money from offenders, with the threat of going back to jail or prison, to help pay for the draconian laws. Isn't extortion a crime?
The Alabama District Attorney’s Association and the Department of Public Safety asked him to sponsor the massive bill, Ward said. Now local law officers and district attorneys are learning key rules they need to enforce the law.
Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Doug Evans said people in his office believe putting all sex offense law into one section of the Alabama Code should make it easier to determine when people break the law. Evans said the law also makes it easier for a jury to convict someone charged with another crime such as stalking, if prosecutors can prove there was a sexual component to the stalking.
Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, said his organization did not oppose the law. County officials liked requirements for more frequent reporting and correct address requirements.
While the new law will mean extra paperwork, primarily for local law enforcement, Brasfield said his organization “felt like it is workable.”
Every year, lawmakers introduce new legislation on sex offenses.
- And every year, they break the law and their oath to uphold the Constitution. Adding punishment onto a persons sentence, after they have been convicted and sentenced, is an ex post facto (unconstitutional) law.
“I suspect his is the most amended law in the state,” Brasfield said. “With a new comprehensive law all in one place, maybe we can remain un-amended long enough for people to learn provisions of this one.”
Key points of 2011 Alabama sex offender law:
- Repeals earlier sex offender law passed in 2005, but incorporates parts of later laws.
- Requires adult sex offenders to remain in the state sex offender registry for life but makes exceptions for some younger offenders.
- Requires offenders to report plans to be away from home address for more than three days or any out-of-state travel.
- Requires day laborers to report when and where they will be on the job each day. (Yep, this is just setting them up to fail and be sent back to prison. Imagine if you had to go to the police each day, before you worked, to tell them where you will be)
- Requires adult offenders to verify registration information every three months and pay $10 fee for updating. (So for non-homeless people, the extortion fee is $40 per year)
- Requires homeless offenders to re-register and pay $10 updating fee every seven days. (And if you are homeless, no money, you must some how come up with $40 every month, which brings the extortion fee to $480 per year, as compared to $40 per year for non-homeless. Something is wrong with this picture!)
- Requires offenders defined as sexual predators or convicted of violent sexual offenses to wear a global positioning device at a cost up to $15 per day. (So, if we had 30 days in each money, this would be an additional $450 extortion fee per month, or $5,400 per year. Not including the $40 per year for non-homeless, or the $480 per year if you are homeless. Anybody know what extortion is? Yes, it's a crime!)
- Allows offender to petition court for relief from lifelong reporting requirements if the offense was a crime only because of the victim’s age (consensual sex with a minor). (So if you were not in a "Romeo & Juliet" style situation, you will be on the registry for life)
- Requires offender to register with local law authorities within three days after moving to county and/or attending school in county.
- Requires offender to update information within three days with every move or change in school.
- Expands information offender must give to law enforcement to include vehicle information, telephone numbers, Internet and email addresses, palm prints, passport/immigration documents and professional licenses.