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March 30, 2010

Senate joins House in approving governor's sex offender reforms

The Maryland General Assembly has given its blessing to all of Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed sex offender reforms.

The Senate yesterday joined the House of Delegates in passage of a plan that adds more information to the state's publicly available sex offender registry and of a measure to reconstitute a long-dormant Sex Offender Advisory Board. O'Malley, a Democrat, was criticized earlier this year by some lawmakers for not activating the board sooner.

The Senate has also signed off on "lifetime supervision" of certain violent and repeat sex offenders who leave prison.

Sex offender reforms have been a hot topic this session, with lawmakers vowing to take up the cause after an 11-year-old Eastern Shore girl was killed in December. A convicted sex offender has been charged with capital murder in Sarah Foxwell's death.

Although O'Malley's package is nearly ready for his signature, two major sex offender proposals by other lawmakers remain in a key Senate committee as the legislative session winds down. It is unclear whether the Senate will OK a House plan to eliminate good-time prison credits for the worst sex offenders and extend prison sentences for child molesters.

Chairman Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, said his Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee may vote on those bills later today.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 12:45 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Crime & Justice, General Assembly 2010


There is too much anger, hatred, and fear in our society today. We are socially paralyzed by the “monsters in the dark” we create as a way to hurt and discriminate against other. These negative, primal human emotions have caused people to push lawmakers to the brink of extremism in passing laws, especially those relating to “protecting our children,” that make no sense and never allow a person to pay their debt to society and move on to a productive lifestyle. Public safety policy is served by rational, reasoned debate—not fanaticism and extremism driven by fear.

(Dan Gunderson, “A Better Approach to Sex Offender Policy.” Minnesota Public Radio, “Lisa Sample, a criminology professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, says…

“Misinformation and a lack of information often shapes sex offender policy…Most of the legislators in her study said their primary source of information was the news media.”

In most cases, lawmakers didn’t read studies or reports relevant to legislation they supported.

She says it’s clear most sex offender legislation follows the abduction and murder of a child, and the resulting public outrage.

Few people are aware a child is at greater risk of sexual abuse from family than strangers. If people understood that, they would support more programs to prevent sexual abuse.

In Minnesota, a panel of experts recently completed a comprehensive report to serve as a guide for sex offender policy in the state. One of the report’s authors says the biggest challenge is just getting lawmakers to read it.

So all of a sudden these are O'Malley's reforms? HORSE$#!&

B.N. - Maybe we should just turn the offenders over to the parents of the victims? or is there some reason that we should believe that the "offenders' can be rehabilitated? also HORSE$#!&

As for your family member comment, they should be subject to the same fate, actually I would be even more harsh.

Panels, reports, all nonsense...SB 622 refers to first or second degree rape or sexual assualt/// I don't need a panel to tell me that they should go away for a mandatory sentence!

(From Julie: I'd like us to try to refrain from harsh language, please.)

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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