Sacramento -- The state board that oversees California's sex offender registration laws wants to thin out and overhaul the registry because they say it has grown too big and does not help law enforcement or the public differentiate between offenders who pose significant risks and those not likely to reoffend.The California Sex Offender Management Board is recommending to the Legislature that only high-risk offenders, such as kidnappers and sexually violent predators, should be required to register for life.The registry was created, in part, on assumptions that have since been proved to be wrong, according to the board.Most sex crimes are not committed by previously identified sex offenders.Others could be removed from the registry 10 to 20 years after the offense.The list of almost 100,000 sex offenders is unwieldy, they said, because California requires all sex offenders, regardless of the type of offense, to register for life."People are very concerned about this," said Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore (Riverside County), who has talked to constituents about similar proposals in the past.
The result, according to a board report last month, is that the list includes many offenders "who do not necessarily pose a risk to the community," including almost 900 whose last sex crime was more than 55 years ago.
Some law enforcement officials and lawmakers are supporting the recommendations acknowledging that public opinion is not on their side and risking the dreaded "soft on crime" label that has caused some politicians to avoid lending support.
Today, the registry continues guiding law enforcement but is also used for Megan's Law, which allows local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about sex offenders who pose a risk and offers the public a searchable website of most registered sex offenders in their neighborhoods.
Of the 97,000 sex offenders on California's registry, about 75,000 live in communities across the state and 22,000 are incarcerated.
About 80 percent of all the offenders are posted on the Megan's Law website.
Some are excluded when the crime they are convicted of does not require public notification or in some first-time offenses.