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Predatory registration concerns

Published (1/21/2011)
By Mike Cook
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There are more than 16,000 registered predatory offenders in the state. However, questions have been raised about the costs of keeping a registry that size and how many names should be made widely available.

The state has had predatory offender registration since 1991, with a 93 percent compliance rate, Acting Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Dave Bjerga told the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee Jan. 13.

“Of the remaining 7 percent, half of those offenders are outside of the State of Minnesota and are no longer under our jurisdiction,” he said.

Bjerga said 120-140 new registrants are added each month; however, Eric Knutson, a special agent in charge, said Jan. 18 that 850-900 people per year are no longer required to register or have completed their registration period.

Currently only information about Level 3 predatory offenders, deemed to be the most likely to re-offend, is available to the public.

Committee Chairman Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder) said a bill could be coming forward to expand that to lower-level predatory offenders.

Rep. Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson) is concerned about costs associated with maintaining an ever-expanding list. “Can you predict what we’re ultimately likely to experience in terms of the number of registrants, and what the implications are for keeping track of all of them?”

Bjerga said that is hard to predict because the number of offenses for which a person must register has increased and could further change, meaning more offenders could be required to register.

Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-Mpls) is also concerned that a larger list will make it harder for citizens to make use of the data. “Part of this was to let the general public be aware,” he said. “If there is no selectiveness to it and everybody stays on for life, is there some point at which it becomes impossible for schools and law enforcement, much less the general public, to make use of it the way the intention was.”

Other areas addressed during the overview include: forensic science services; investigative services; and administrative services, including the success of the AMBER Alert program.

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