Local Politics

Sex-offender monitoring program may get overhaul

At the General Assembly Wednesday, lawmakers discussed a possible overhaul to the sex-offender monitoring system.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state Senate wants to clarify a law that allows the state to track released sex offenders by using a bracelet and global positioning satellites.

Almost two dozen convicted sex offenders have challenged the law and won. Judges have also ordered tracking systems be taken off released prisoners, saying that is double punishment.

A Superior Court judge ruled last month that because Guy Reeves was convicted of sex offenses before the state adopted a monitoring law, he does not have to wear a satellite tracking monitor.

Reeves was convicted in January 2006 of taking indecent liberties with a 7-year-old, his third sex-offense conviction. He left jail in May 2007.

The General Assembly passed laws on sex-offender monitoring in 2006 and added specific procedures for the program last December.

Reeves was the 29th convicted sex offender in North Carolina to get a tracking device removed.

Statewide, 113 people are still monitored. State Department of Correction officials say it costs $2,745 a year to track one offender.

Attorneys opposing the monitoring have argued that the system violates constitutional rights and was beset by technical problems.

Illegal immigrants

State lawmakers filed a bill in the Wednesday that would prohibit schools from accepting immigrants who are in this country illegally.

On advice from Attorney General Roy Cooper, community college leaders recently announced they would not accept immigrants without proper residency documentation. The governor thinks they should.

In the House, a different bill was filed that would prevent the board of governors and state board of community colleges from soliciting information regarding the immigration status of prospective students.

Cigarette tax
A bill was introduced Wednesday that suggests a 75-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax.

North Carolina's tax is 35 cents a pack, the 45th-lowest in the nation.

Televised sessions
The House and Senate are considering a measure to put legislative sessions online and on television.

The idea is in the planning and research phase.