Some members of the Utah Sentencing Commission on Wednesday expressed surprise and dismay at changes in Utah's sex offender registry that expanded it to include other crimes that have no sexual element.
But the state legislator who sponsored the bill creating the revisions later said including certain violent or terrifying crimes is the right thing to do.
The commission learned of the new aspects of the registry during a presentation by Jim Ingle, the unit administrator who handles the registry for the Utah Department of Corrections.
The Web site has been renamed the "Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry," and from now on will include individuals convicted of kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, voyeurism and unlawful detention.
Kidnappings by parents (natural, biological, adoptive and noncustodial) are not included.
Utah Court of Appeals Judge Gregory Orme was the most outspoken of several commission members who wondered aloud why such crimes as unlawful detention would merit putting someone put on a
public Web site for sex offenders.
Orme raised the hypothetical example of a farmer who suspects a teenager is stealing from him and locks the teen in a barn until the sheriff arrives. Later, it turns out that the teen's brother is the actual culprit and the farmer pleads guilty to unlawful detention.
Will this farmer now have his picture and address listed next to convicted rapists and child molesters?
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, who was not at the meeting, said he thinks the commission does not fully understand the legislation he sponsored to make the revisions.
"I do think it's appropriate to have kidnapping on this Web site," Ray said. "They may not like it, but anybody that kidnaps is obviously not a safe person. ... To me, a normal person isn't going to do that. You have to have a violent streak to be able to do that."
Ray also believes those convicted of aggravated kidnapping and voyeurism belong on the registry, but he did say he wants to investigate further any concerns about the unlawful detention provision.
As far as the hypothetical farmer, Ray asked, "Would the district attorney prosecute that farmer? I wouldn't."
Ray noted that his bill was written as a team effort including representatives from the Department of Corrections, the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, the Utah Attorney General's Office, prosecutors and members of the judiciary.
"I do think I want to look into the unlawful detention to make sure we have that down. The prosecutors were ones who wanted to add that," Ray said.
However, Ray is pleased with the addition of the other crimes because he believes it furthers public safety.
Other changes in the law require considerably more information from a convicted person, although only limited material will go on the public Web site.
Among the new requirement provisions: Internet information (detailing addresses and passwords for sites the individual frequents except for personal finance or work matters), primary and secondary addresses, a copy of one's passport, a copy of INS paperwork, any volunteer organizations the person assists, DNA information, all phone numbers and professional licenses.
Those on the registry also must provide their Social Security numbers (which will not be made public), and list the license and VINs for of all cars the person uses regularly, even if the convicted individual does not own the car.
Ingle also cited another new provision that is aimed at helping police listing employer information.
Police ran into difficulties seeking out registered sex offenders as they searched a South Salt Lake neighborhood for 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo in March because offenders at that time did not have to list where they work.
The girl was found raped, strangled and beaten to death. A 20-year-old man is charged with aggravated murder and child kidnapping in connection with the case.
There also is another court case involving the registry revisions in federal court. A Weber County man is challenging a narrow aspect of the registry changes in federal court, saying it violates his constitutional rights to have to provide computer passwords.
The man, identified in court documents as "John Doe," was convicted of carnal knowledge and sodomy on a minor in a military court in 2005 and served time in a military prison. He contends that he was never under the jurisdiction of the Utah Department of Corrections but was required to register as a sex offender here.
The federal lawsuit is still pending.
Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, who created the bill that addressed only the Internet aspects of the registry, said he believes the state is on firm legal ground here.
"We've run this thing through the Attorney General's Office and several other lawyers," he said.
The passwords will never be made public, but these will be available to law enforcement."The idea is very simple: If one of your daughters came up missing and the last known person (to have communicated with her) was contacted on MySpace .Com or Facebook.com, wouldn't you want to know who that individual was?" Bird said. "We just need to know that information for criminal investigation purposes."
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