Number of sex offenders who must report to dramatically increase
The much litigated law toughening Nevada’s sex offender registration law will go into effect October 1, dramatically increasing the number of convicted offenders who have to show up at their local law enforcement and register.
Julie Butler, who manages the system for the Department of Public Safety, said the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act changes the registration system from a risk based system to an offense or conviction based system.
For Tier 3 offenders — those convicted of sexual offenses involving a victim younger than 13 or a violent offense regardless of the victim’s age — the new law means they must report to their local law enforcement agency in person four times a year to verify their address and other information.
Butler said that change will increase the number of Tier 3 offenders in Nevada from 260-300 to nearly 3,400.
Another major change impacts Tier 1 offenders — generally those convicted of a misdemeanor sexual violation. Not only must they report annually — many don’t currently have to report — their names and offenses will be listed on the sex offender website for anyone to see.
In between, she said, are Tier 2 offenders who were convicted of a crime in which the victim was 13-18 years old. They must report every 180 days.
Tier 1 offenders must report for 15 years, tier 2 offenders for 25 years and Tier 3 offenders for life.
Until now, Butler said her staff was charged with determining how great a risk each offender was to reoffend.
“It takes some of the subjectivity out of it on the part of our staff,” she said.
Tier 3 offenders, she said, “were your sexual predators.”
“Now we’ve got to really work to educate the public that it doesn’t mean risk to reoffend anymore,” Butler said.
But she said that doesn’t mean someone who was charged 20 years ago with something like urinating in public will suddenly face restrictions. She said most of those cases were never charged as a sexual offense but as drunk and disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace.
In addition, Butler said she doesn’t have the staff to go back and, “actively search out those people who had a conviction 20 years ago,” for a minor offense.
“To the extent they get new offenses and become involved in the criminal justice system again, yes we will put them on the registry.”
She said they’ll look up the history of anyone who commits a new offense to see if they should be in the registry.
She said Nevada is up to nearly 22,000 total sex offenders of one degree or another.
The law was enacted in 1007 as AB579 but has been tied up in court challenges since then. The Nevada Supreme Court finally denied further delays to implementing the act. Butler said implementing it will take time because they have to reclassify so many offenders to meet the requirements of the Adam Walsh Act. Butler said they expect to implement the law October 1.