Concord Monitor: Bill to broaden sex offender list

By Annmarie Timmins, Monitor Staff (original article)

Lawmakers are considering vastly expanding the public sex offender registry to include not only more crimes like some Peeping-Tom incidents and indecent exposures, but also the names of people who’ve victimized adults. The public list now identifies only child molesters.

The proposed legislation, introduced in part to bring New Hampshire in line with federal requirements, would also allow the police to collect more information from offenders, including cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, online screen names and DNA if it hasn’t already been collected.

HB1640 House public hearing

The public hearing for this bill was held before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on 2008-02-05 at 10:30. Laurie, Jeremy, and Mark Warden attended, along with Denis Goddard, Research Director of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, and a few other NHLA activists.

Rep. Cynthia Dokmo testified to the committee first, explaining the purpose of HB1640 in detail. Mark Warden was the first member of the public to be called to testify, and he gave detailed testimony as to the money issues with this bill. An excerpt:—

With the latest appropriation out of Congress for [the Byrne Grant] program being slashed by 67%, the amount left for states and municipalities has decreased substantially. And of the money that will continue to come in, we only stand to lose 10% of the amount if we are not in compliance. By my estimation, that forfeited amount will only be about $75,000. Yet the fiscal note on this bill from the department states that these changes will cost over $116,000 the first year, along with additional costs of compliance and personnel ad infinitum.

Spending $116,000 to keep $75,000. Need more be said?

HB1640 (2008)

HB1640, titled “an act relative to the classification of convicted sex offenders and offenders against children,” is New Hampshire’s attempt at complying with the federal Adam Walsh Act (AWA). We’ve identified a large number of serious problems with this bill, and thus we oppose its passage in its current form.

HB1481 (2008)

We weren’t involved in this fight, but we’d like to thank Carl Soderstrom and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance for getting this bill killed.

HB1481, titled “an act relative to identification of registered sex offenders on the state website,” is a bill that would, among other things, repeal the following portion of RSA 651-B:1:—

The court shall also make a finding as to whether the offender’s name and registration information shall appear on the public list authorized by RSA 651-B:7. In determining whether the offender’s name shall appear on the public list, the court shall consider whether the victim was a minor at the time of the crime; the nature of the offenses that are currently listed on the public list; whether public safety would be furthered by including the offender on the public list; and any other relevant factors. The hearing at which such a determination is made shall comply with due process requirements, including a right to appeal the finding. The court shall provide the defendant an opportunity to be heard on the issue prior to the imposition of the registration requirement and shall state on the record the reasons for its findings and the reasons for requiring registration.

In other words, it would remove the court’s discretion as to whether or not a public listing was necessary, and require all such offenders to be listed. As such, we oppose this bill.

This bill was reviewed by Carl Soderstrom of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, who took it upon himself to contact Rep. Jason Bedrick, one of the sponsors, and ask him to clarify the purpose of this bill. After some discussion, Rep. Bedrick withdrew his support for the bill.

2008-01-15: Public Safety Committee meeting

Meeting agenda — Item #11. See pages 9–21 for information about this bill.

As usual, the bill remains tabled. The meeting began at 17:00 and adjourned at 17:29, with all tabled items left untouched.

As a result of the 2007 municipal elections, the Public Safety Committee is now composed of Aldermen William P. Shea (chairman), Daniel P. O’Neil, Peter M. Sullivan, Jim Roy, and Russ Ouellette.

2008-01-06: Nashua Telegraph: Veto stands on sex offender ordinance

The bill has been vetoed by outgoing mayor Bernie Streeter.

Of particular note is the fact that the current mayor, Donnalee Lozeau, is adamantly opposed to sex-offender residency restrictions for many of the reasons we have expressed, and she even said so during her campaign against Tollner—a campaign which she won. In light of this, we are fairly confident that this fight is over for the foreseeable future.

2007-12-13: Personnel/Administrative Affairs Committee meeting

Meeting agenda — See O-07-136 on page two.

Sex offenders and residency restrictions: An in-depth analysis.” A presentation prepared by Laurie Peterson.
Also available as a PowerPoint presentation.

The bill was watered down significantly, and ultimately passed out of Committee, by a vote of 4–2. Aldermen Dion and Teeboom voted against; Tollner, Deane, Williams, and MacLaughlin voted for it.

Laurie was able to travel down to Nashua in order to fight this for us. In total, six members of the general public attended the meeting in order to oppose the bill, three of whom gave testimony against it—even the Nashua Police Department had a representative in attendance who testified against it. The Nashua Telegraph had also sent a reporter to cover the meeting.

2007-12-05: Union Leader: MPD’s deputy chief warns against sex offender residency limits

By Scott Brooks, New Hampshire Union Leader (original article)

MANCHESTER — Deputy Police Chief Marc Lussier warned aldermen yesterday against a measure banning registered sex offenders from living near schools, parks and other places where children gather. “I’m concerned that it’s not going to be effective,” Lussier said.

An aldermanic committee tabled the proposed ordinance yesterday, four months after former Alderman Leo Pepino urged its passage.

The committee expects to hear testimony from detectives with the police department’s juvenile division within a month.

Three aldermen on the five-member Committee on Public Safety, Health and Traffic expressed some reservations about the proposed residency restrictions. Alderman At-Large Dan O’Neil said he has spoken with several police officials, including Chief John Jaskolka, and found little support for the measure.

“The common theme coming back from the police department is that this is feel-good legislation,” O’Neil said.

2007-12-04: Public Safety Committee meeting

Meeting agenda — Item #4. See pages 5–17 for information about this bill.

This bill continues to remain tabled and looks like it’s finally circling the drain.

Former alderman Leo Pepino, the primary proponent behind this bill, finally got to speak in front of the aldermen during this meeting. Pepino’s attempts at justifying the need for this ordinance would be laughable if this issue weren’t so serious—resorting to the usual tactics of fearmongering and emotionalism, he claimed that not passing the bill would be a “crime against children” and implied that all sex offenders are the same—dangerous child predators—saying that the only different kind of sex offenders are “registered” vs. “unregistered” ones. Early in the meeting Pepino asserted that only the ACLU (whom he felt the need to point out supports flag burning and… baggy pants) would oppose his bill, but after Laurie and Mark spoke against it, his argument became that everyone opposing it was doing so for “personal reasons.”

2007-10-30: Public Safety Committee meeting

Meeting agenda — Item #12. See pages 24–36 for information about this bill.

This bill continues to remain tabled.

Unlike the last meeting, in which the bill wasn’t even mentioned, it came up for discussion today—for about thirty seconds. Upon seeing that Leo Pepino, the bill’s major proponent, hadn’t shown up at the meeting today, they immediately re-tabled it, pending the next Committee meeting. The status of the map that they requested be drawn up remains a mystery.

Laurie, Jeremy, and Mark were in attendance.

The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing mostly traffic-related issues.

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