Strengthening the Computer Crimes Unit

By Bill Diamond

My bill, LD 1731, “An Act To Rescue Children Who Are Being Sexually Abused and To Make Improvements to the Sex Offender Registry and the Investigation of Computer Crimes,” has cleared the Criminal Justice Committee, and now moves on to the House and Senate.

The committee process is always a little harrowing for a legislator, especially when the bill is as important to the sponsor as this one is to me. The committee has the authority to amend the bill or even kill it, and it is always a relief when that part of the process is done.

I am glad to say that the bill came through with strong support and with the most important parts intact. The committee voted 11-2 to pass the bill, and although they did amend the bill somewhat, removing the portions that dealt with the Sex Offender Registry, the committee kept the most critical parts of the bill. The Computer Crimes Unit will be strengthened, receiving additional staff and it will become a line item in the state budget. It also strengthens our laws against sex trafficking.

Especially important is that the increased funding called for in the bill has been included in the governor’s proposed Supplemental Budget. Securing this money is arguably the most critical part of the bill’s success. The $360,000 will allow the Computer Crimes Unit to hire an additional three specialists. This may not sound like much, but it will make an enormous difference. The added staff will allow the CCU to close an additional 100 cases per year, roughly doubling their output. Not only will they be able to clear up much of their backlog, but once this is done, they will be able to take on cases that never would have been investigated before. This last has been very frustrating, as the large backlog only allowed the CCU to take on the most critical cases, leaving others to go unprosecuted simply because they didn’t have the resources to investigate them.

The bill also toughens the penalties for promoting prostitution, and adds crimes, such as confiscating a person’s passport or threatening them with deportation to coerce them into the sex trade, to the state’s law books.  Between the increased funding and greater capability of the CUU and the new laws to deter child pornography and sex trafficking, LD 1731 will make our children safer.

A lot is going on at the State House now as we enter the last few weeks of the session. If there is anything you would like to know more about, please call my office at the State House at 287-1515 or visit my website at www.mainesenate.org/diamond 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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