General Assembly passes comprehensive Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act

STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) and Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) amending Rhode Island’s sexual offender registration and community notification laws.

The bill (2018-S 2586A, 2018-H 7541A), which was filed at the behest of the attorney general, would implement several registration and notification procedures of the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

“Making these changes to our sexual offender registry and community notification laws — particularly the updating of an out-of-date computer system — will go a long way toward keeping our communities safe with a greater level of efficiency,” said Senator Gallo. “I appreciate the opportunity to have worked with Attorney General Kilmartin to craft this overdue legislation.”

The act would allow for the purchase of a new sexual offender registry system that would improve the accuracy and completeness of data entered into the system, allow for better quality assurance at all levels of sex offender registration that will lead to greater public safety and sex offender management. The current registry and website software is archaic and not compliant with several Federal requirements in the areas of registration and/or community notification.

“Released sex offenders pose a possibly serious risk to every community in Rhode Island and this legislation was needed to update our notification system so that our communities can be protected from the possibility of future sex crimes,” said Representative Craven. “This bill will keep our families and neighborhoods safer from the danger of repeat sexual offenders.”

Updating the sexual offender registry system will provide important search functions or such features as an e-mail notice when a sex offender commences residence, employment, or school attendance within the state, a specified zip code, or a certain geographic radius are management important to public safety. These updates would provide opportunities for more efficient and effective sex offender notification in the State, allowing allow law enforcement the ability to focus their resources on the implementation and enforcement of sex offender laws. The improvements also have the possibility in saving municipalities financially as community notification could be satisfied via e-mail notice rather than paper notice.

“The updates to SORNA found in this act strengthen our sex offender registration and community notification law, providing greater protections for the citizens of Rhode Island, while giving law enforcement access to the information it needs to keep sex offenders accountable,” said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. “I commend the General Assembly — especially sponsors Representative Craven and Senator Gallo — for working with my office and our law enforcement partners to address concerns by interested parties to move forward this measure.”

The act also requires offenders to provide the following information for the registry: name, date of birth, social security number, current digitized photograph, accurate physical description, driver’s license, identification card, passport, immigration documents, residence address, telephone numbers, internet identifiers, vehicle information, employment information, school information, criminal history, fingerprints and DNA.