Sen. Witkos Wants Better Notification of Released Sex Offenders

March 16, 2009

His bill requires that schools be notified of released offender residing in community

State Senator Kevin Witkos, R-Canton, today testified before the legislature’s Judiciary Committee in favor of SB 533, An Act Concerning Notification of the Release of a Registered Sexual Offender into the Community. The bill would require the state Department of Public Safety to notify a local superintendent of schools of information relating to the release of a convicted sex offender who will reside, or intends to reside, in that specific community. Sen. Witkos, who is sponsoring the legislation, said it is important that local school officials are informed of those convicted of these crimes in order to maintain a higher degree of security in and around school grounds.

“It is my belief that a higher degree of security is warranted in these cases. We need to be proactive in making sure that when our children go to school they are safe, and that parents can be rest assured that all measures are being taken to ensure that safety,” said Sen. Witkos. “This bill, while simple in nature, would give our local school administrators information that all parents would want to have in order to better protect their children.”

Under current law, police are mandated to notify the superintendent of schools when an individual between the ages of 17 and 21 commits a Class A misdemeanor or felony. The verbal notification must be made no later than the end of the next school day and written notification within 72 hours. According to Sen. Witkos, while school notification is required in this instance even though such individual has not been tried or convicted in a court of law, the same is not required for those convicted of a sex assault crime.

“This bill is specifically tailored to those convicted of a sex crime, and who are required to register as a sex offender in their community,” said Sen. Witkos. “It is my hope that the Judiciary Committee will move this legislation forward because I do believe that schools should be privy to this information.”