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January 23. 2013 10:58PM

Bill to reform sex offender registry gains traction

KEENE - Rep. Timothy N. Robertson, D-Keene, said his push to form a committee to study the state's sex offender registry was passed unanimously by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Robertson's bill to create a team of three state representatives and two senators to review and study the effects of the sex offender registry could come before the State House as early as next week, he said.

Revamping the state's registry has been on Robertson's agenda for many years, he said.

Right now there is a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to those convicted of sex offenses that does not take the individual or certain circumstances into consideration, he said.

Robertson has met many of those affected by this aspect of the registry over the years. He is not talking about men who molested girls the age of 6 or 7, he said.

He is advocating for people such as one man registered because he had sex at the age of 16 with a 15-year-old girl. The couple are now married and have a child, but this man cannot get a job because he is a registered sex offender, Robertson said.

The law has since changed so that this man couldn't have been convicted today because there would have to be at least a four year age difference, Robertson said, but this man remains of the list.

Another 30-year-old man remains on the list after being convicted of having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl. The man didn't realize she was a minor, she looked older and the two met at a party, had been drinking and both consented. He served time in jail and has not reoffended. Yet short of getting a pardon from the governor, this man has no way of getting off the list, Robertson said.

There should be measures in place that allow registered sex offenders who are not repeat offenders to prove they are not a danger and be able to have themselves taken off the list, he said.

This committee would look for ways to make this punishment more individualized, perhaps considered by a judge or left up to a state panel to review cases, he said.

Any changes would only apply to offenses committed in New Hampshire, he said, so as not to attract offenders from other states.

Robertson said the House plans to meet next week and he expects his proposed bill will be on the calendar. He is sure it will be discussed on the floor, he said.

"Someone will want to debate it."

mpierce@newstote.com


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