Governor Martin O'Malley Introduces Legislation to Protect Marylanders from Sexual Predators
Governor convenes Sexual Offender Advisory Board to reform 2006 law
ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 27, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley announced today a series of legislative initiatives targeted at protecting Maryland families from sexual predators and strict enforcement of sex offender laws, including lifetime supervision for certain sex offenses. The Governor also announced legislation to reconstitute the Sexual Offender Advisory Board, and has asked former Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran to serve as Chair. The Board will initially serve to advocate for legislation to strengthen the Board and redefine its purpose.
“There should be absolutely no mercy shown to anyone who harms a child in our State, and our legislation serves to impose the strictest standards of supervision to ensure that Maryland’s children are protected,” said Governor O’Malley. “There is a lot we do better than we used to as a state with regard to public safety, and there is still a lot of work to be done. I want to thank Joe Curran for agreeing to extend his public service in this capacity, and look forward to working with the General Assembly to strengthen our efforts even more.”
The Sexual Offender Advisory Board was established in 2006 and charged with, among other things, training sexual offender management teams in the Division of Parole and Probation, certifying sexual offender treatment providers, and making policy recommendations. However, there was no requirement that the members of this Board have any of the specialized skills necessary for certifying programs, conducting training, or even making policy recommendations. For that reason, and others, the O’Malley-Brown Administration has introduced legislation for the past three years to reenact this Board so that it is properly constituted and charged. The Governor introduced legislation today to ensure the Board is properly constituted and charged.
“I have been a long-time supporter of lifetime supervision for our state's most violent sexual predators. The proposed Board will ensure that experts with specialized experience working with both victims and offenders are addressing these extremely serious cases,” said former Maryland Attorney General Joe Curran. “I look forward to serving as the Board’s chair and want to get to work immediately. I plan to meet with the staff tomorrow evening and to convene a Board meeting next week.”
Curran served as Attorney General for Maryland from 1986 to 2007. He was Lieutenant Governor from 1983 to 1986, and before that served in the State Senate and the House of Delegates for nearly a quarter of a century. As Attorney General, Mr. Curran initiated statewide reform in the areas of consumer protection, criminal investigations, Medicaid fraud prosecution, securities regulation, antitrust enforcement, protection of children and teens, parents, seniors, protection of victims of domestic violence and sexual predators. He also worked to strengthen criminal laws against gun violence, prescription drug abuse, and was an opponent of slots and casino gambling. Curran is a graduate of the University of Baltimore and the University of Baltimore School of Law.
The Governor announced today a comprehensive set of legislative initiatives aimed at protecting Maryland families:
Sexual Offenders – Lifetime Supervision
The bill requires that courts sentence certain serious sex offenders (convicted of first degree rape/attempt; second degree rape/attempt; first degree sexual offense/attempt; certain second and third degree sexual offenses; certain sexual abuse of a minor) and sexual offenders with multiple offenses to mandatory lifetime supervision. This lifetime supervision must be consecutive to any sentence or probationary term imposed for the underlying offense. The sentencing court must order a presentence investigation prior to imposing the conditions of this lifetime supervision, which may include GPS monitoring. The bill also provides for criminal penalties for violations and provides that any sentence imposed for a violation of lifetime supervision is not subject to dimunition credits.
The bill further provides that, following the original sentence and an additional three years of lifetime supervision, a person may petition the sentencing court for discharge from this supervision. In order to file a petition, a person must have a recommendation from their supervising agent and a risk assessment conducted by a sexual offender treatment provider. A sentencing court may not discharge a person from lifetime supervision unless there is a finding that the person no longer poses an unacceptable risk to community safety.
Sexual Offender Advisory Board
This bill reconstitutes the Sexual Offender Advisory Board to be compromised of persons with specialized knowledge of sex offenders so that the Board can effectively make policy recommendations on how to best manage sex offenders and protect the public. The bill also alters the charge of the Board, directing the Board to: review the laws and practices in Maryland, including our registration requirements; work with the Judiciary to develop risk-assessment criteria for the lifetime supervision offenders; make recommendations for the treatment and management of sex offenders; develop standards for a statewide certification process for sexual offender treatment providers; and make recommendations regarding the training of sexual offender management teams.
Criminal Procedure - Sex Offenders - Notification and Registration
This proposal would bring the State into compliance with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) (also known as the Adam Walsh Act), which creates minimum standards for sex offender registration. States have been given until July 2010 to come into “substantial” compliance or risk the loss of Byrne grant funds. The most significant changes include: making the registration requirements retroactive; re-classifying the sex offense categories; and requiring juvenile offenders to register publicly if convicted in adult court or if adjudicated delinquent for serious sexual offenses and at least 14 years of age.
Sexual Offender Registration – Indecent Exposure and Possession of Child Pornography
This bill would allow a judge to order a person convicted of (1) possession of child pornography; or (2) indecent exposure in the presence of a minor to register as a sexual offender. Currently, these crimes are not included on the Maryland registry and judges have no authority to order an offender to register for these offenses.
Registration of Sexual Offenders – Continuing Course of Conduct
This bill adds the crime of Continuing Course of Conduct with Child to the category of offenses for which a sexual offender, under certain circumstances, must register for life. The elements of the crime of “Continuing Course of Conduct” are: the commission of one or more of the following crimes at least three times over the course of 90 days to a child under the age of 14: first degree Rape; second degree Rape; first degree Sex Offense; second degree Sex Offense; third degree Sex Offense. Under current law, a conviction for any of the offenses, against a child under the age of 15, requires lifetime registration as a Child Sexual Offender. However, a conviction for Continuing Course of Conduct (three of these acts) gives a judge the discretion to order registration, but only 10 years as an Offender. This bill would remedy the inconsistency in the law and require similar registration guidelines for individuals who commit equally violent sex offenses.
Criminal Background Investigations – Employees of Facilities and Other Individuals that Care for or Supervise Children
This bill expands the categories of individuals who will be required to have a State and Federal background check. It requires background checks for employees of private entities running recreation centers as well as for employees of home health or residential service agencies licensed to provide home or community based health services for minors.