Bill would remove sex offender Internet restrictions

A bill to remove Internet restrictions for registered sex offenders in Nebraska was heard by the Judiciary Committee Feb. 12.

Under LB290, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash, registered sex offenders no longer would be required to provide information and report changes regarding their email address list, Internet communication identifiers, domain names, and blogs and websites that they write or maintain.

Coash said the bill would remove language deemed unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court ruling that found, in part, that the statute wrongly criminalized certain kinds of speech and infringed upon the right of association.

Corey Steel, state court administrator, testified in support of the bill. He said it would eliminate inconsistencies between federal and state laws that create problems for judges during sentencing.

Danielle Bailey, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, also spoke in favor of the bill, saying Internet use by registered sex offenders poses no danger to public safety. Offenders are less likely to reoffend, she said, when they have access to online counseling resources and social networks that reinforce family bonds.

“This bill will significantly increase public safety,” she said.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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