Improving Our Laws Regarding Maine’s Sex Offenders

By State Senator Bill Diamond

Dealing with sex crimes is a difficult thing for society to undertake. Such crimes often go unreported, as the very nature of the crimes makes it hard for victims to come forward and talk about them.

Dealing with the offenders is tricky as well, as they tend to have a higher rate of repeating their crimes than other criminals.

The Maine Legislature has worked hard over the years to recognize the special nature and seriousness of these crimes, but it is still a very imperfect system.

This next session, I will be submitting legislation to improve the way we investigate sex crimes and handle the offenders. Some of the changes I will be proposing will be to alter the sex offender registry somewhat. While the sex offender registry is a useful tool for making people aware of the offenders that live in their community, in its current form it is difficult for the average person to understand the crimes associated with these offenders. Concerning the information on the registry, I will be proposing that the nature of the crimes committed by the individual be described in plain English that is readily understood by the public at large, not the legalese jargon currently used.

To provide a greater measure of justice, my bill will contain provisions to make greater distinctions between different classes of offenders. While federal law requires a three-tier system for ranking offenders, I would like to see new fourth tier. This would be a lower level for those whose crimes are misdemeanors rather than felonies, and they will have to remain on the registry for five years.

I will be calling for changes on the enforcement side as well. One of the most important tools we have in Maine for the investigation and prosecution of sex crimes is the dedicated Computer Crimes Unit of the State Police. The officers that perform this work are incredibly talented and motivated, but this unit is very under-resourced. They get by largely on Federal grants and other funds that can be gathered together, and as a result they have a huge backlog of such items as hard-drives from suspected pedophiles to investigate. This is allowing criminals to go unprosecuted for extended periods of time. I would address this issue by giving them a funding line in the state budget to allow them to secure funding and make them a separate bureau within the Maine State Police to increase their visibility and better reflect the important role they play.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this legislation, or need help with the state, you can get in touch with me at the State House by calling 287-1515 or visit my website, to send me an e-mail.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

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