Thousands Of Names Could Be Removed From MD Sex Offender Registr - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Thousands Of Names Could Be Removed From MD Sex Offender Registry

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MARYLAND - Approximately 2,500 people could immediately be taken off Maryland's sex offender registry. And with the sex offender registry term being reduced to ten years, officials say as many as half of the 8,750 some names currently on the registry, could be erased over the next few years.

"Once an offender, always one," Emma Chiach of Salisbury, Md. said.

This week, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that retroactive application of the registry is unconstitutional. So that means, sex offenders in Maryland can no longer be forced to register if they committed their crimes before the registry was created back in 1995.

"Every state has to create a sex offender registry that comes into compliance with federal law. And if they do not comply, than they can lose up to five percent of their public safety money," Executive Director of the Life Crisis Center in Salisbury, Md. Michele Hughes said.

Maryland will not face penalties because the court ruled that federal law does not override the state's constitution.

"The three counties of the lower shore have three of the highest rates of child sex abuse in the state. And part of that is good reporting. But part of it is that we just have a high rate of child sex abuse here," Hughes said.

Troubling numbers that have many worried.

"A lot of these people will repeat the crime if they aren't rehabilitated, and the public needs to be aware for their own safety and the safety of their children," Mary Norton of Salisbury, Md. said.

But Hughes warns that the safety of our children should not rely on a database.

"The larger concern though is that the sex offender registry fails to capture many of the names of people in our community who may be sex offenders," she said.

As a result of this ruling, the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault says it's really advocating for prevention, and possibly a non-public registry accessible only to law enforcement and people who work with children.

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