Nevada Legislature: Panel kills sex offender bill
Associated Press Writer
An Assembly panel voted Tuesday to kill a bill that would have changed lifetime supervision requirements imposed on convicted sex offenders, after critics said the changes would violate constitutional due process protections.
Under AB36, convicted sex offenders who violated the terms of their lifetime supervision would face a state Parole Board hearing, rather than a court hearing.
Representatives of the Division of Parole and Probation said the bill was needed because the process of getting a court hearing often takes too long, and there are too few consequences on the books for violating lifetime supervision.
But David Smith, executive secretary of the state Parole Board which is separate from the division, opposed the bill, saying it would be more appropriate to conduct such hearings in a court.
“Due process is sometimes time-consuming,” said Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Assembly Corrections, Parole and Probation Committee. “It’s inconvenient sometimes, but it’s the system that we have and we just don’t cast it aside for expediency.”
Legislators also heard an audit report on the Division of Parole and Probation’s performance in 2007.
Denis Klenczar, a deputy legislative auditor, said that for 20 percent of “high-risk” offenders examined in the report, it took the division more than 30 days from when the offender was sentenced or released until supervision began.
“When reassessments are not timely, there is an increased risk the offender is not properly supervised,” Klenczar said.
“It seems like we almost need an entire day to go through this report,” said Assemblyman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, noting there were many other “embarrassing” problems in the document.
Mark Woods, deputy chief of the division, said that many of the recommendations made by the auditor have been implemented.
The committee also heard AB38, a bill to ensure that civil rights aren’t automatically restored to convicted sex offenders who are sentenced to a lifetime of parole.
“Why on earth would the Division of Parole and Probation see as a priority disenfranchising people they supervise?” asked Lee Roland of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “When you’re talking about reducing someone’s right to vote, there needs to be compelling reasons to do so.”
Roland pointed out that the bill’s broad definition of sex offenders could mean that people who urinate in public or steal pornographic images also could lose their civil rights.
Manendo moved to kill AB38, but the committee agreed instead to reconsider it at a later date.
“I think it’s very far-reaching,” said Manendo, adding that in light of the division’s problems, it should focus its energy elsewhere.
The committee also heard testimony on AB35, which would make it tougher for a sex offender to get a judge to release the offender from lifetime supervision.
Jerod Updike, a convicted sex offender who at age 22 was charged with attempting to meet a 15 year old over the Internet, opposed the bill.
“I understand trying to protect children, and I understand serious molesters and people who have had direct contact,” Updike, who is hearing-impaired, said through an interpreter. “But for my situation, where I was a young kid who made a poor choice over the Internet, I feel that lifetime supervision doesn’t connect to the crime that I committed.”