Expansion of sex offender registry considered

Members of the Judiciary Committee considered a proposal March 4 to add applicable human trafficking offenses to the state’s Sex Offender Registry Act.

Sen. Julie Slama
Sen. Julie Slama

LB204, sponsored by Peru Sen. Julie Slama, would require an individual to register as a sex offender who has been found guilty of — or pleaded guilty or no contest to — a charge of sex trafficking or sex trafficking of a minor.

Sex trafficking is a sex crime, “plain and simple,” Slama said, and should be treated as such.

“People can of course look up any conviction online because they are a matter of public record, however this information is not easily accessible to the public based on our current statutes,” she said. “As the crime of sex trafficking expands, it’s all the more important that information on these sex criminals is attainable and accessible to the public.”

Slama brought an amendment to the hearing that would remove a provision in the introduced bill to require that a registered sex offender report planned international travel to law enforcement for community notification purposes.

Glen Parks, speaking on behalf of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, supported LB204. Some lawyers and judges assume registration is automatic in cases of sex trafficking, he said, and are surprised that it currently is not.

“I don’t believe it was anyone’s intention to leave these crimes off the list … it’s just never been done [until this bill],” Parks said.

Opposing the measure was Kenneth Ackerman of Omaha. He said studies have not shown that a sex offender registry improves public safety.

“Although sex trafficking is terrible and against all decency and deserves prison time, adding those convicted to the registry would not stop this crime or exploitation from taking place,” Ackerman said.

The committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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