House approves two changes to sex-offender laws

March 18, 2010

The Maryland House of Delegates gave early approval Wednesday to two major changes to sex offender laws, eliminating good-time prison credits for the most violent and repeat predators and establishing lifetime supervision for them. Republican lawmakers had pushed to expand several of the provisions, including ones that would force judges to bar all high-level sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools and day care centers and require them to have global-positioning devices. Those efforts were defeated after Democratic leaders argued that they would be too costly and could concentrate offenders in rural areas. The House is scheduled today to take up legislation that would bring the state into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act by adding more information to the state sex offender registry. The House must give final approval to all of the measures, and a key Senate panel has just begun debating them. The Senate Judiciary Committee has in previous years been loath to restrict good-time prison credits. That same committee has also previously rejected efforts to change the registration requirements for homeless sex offenders - one of the provisions the House is to consider today.

- Julie Bykowicz

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