Mix of emotion at hearing for sex offender bills

Mix of emotion at hearing for sex offender bills

SALEM, Ore. – There was a mix of emotion Thursday as Oregon lawmakers heard testimony about a pair of bills that would overhaul how sex offenders register and are supervised.

The first proposal, House Bill 2552, concerns juvenile offenders. The bill would allow those who committed a sex crime before age 16 from having to report as a sex offender under certain circumstances.

The second bill, House Bill 2549, would mandate that all sex offenders be classified by their risk level to society. For instance, a Level 3 sex offender would be classified the most dangerous; Level 1 would the least likely to re-offend.

Currently, Oregon does not classify sex offenders; Washington does have a ranking system.

Surprising fallout of House Bill 2549? It would also provide relief to certain sex offenders. If passed, those convicted of serious crimes -- such as first-degree rape and sodomy -- can ask to be taken off the state registry within as few as five years after they're done with probation or parole.

Connie Hollon was behind the original law in 2006 that put a portion of Oregon’s sex offender registry online. She finds the proposal disappointing.

“It saddens me,” Hollon said. “This is a bill … by a few select proponents that have their own agenda.”

“This is also a crime that doesn’t walk away from the victim,” she added.

Others spoke in staunch support of the bills. Ken Nolley, president of Oregon Voices, said the current laws are actually creating an unjust culture.

“The very laws we’ve passed to protect our community is actually destroying families … in many, many cases,” Nolley said.

Both bills were heard by the House Committee on Judiciary. The judiciary committee did not hold a vote on either bill.

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