sex offender registry
Current state law requires that convicted sex offenders appear on the list for 10 years. The committee is looking to extend that period and to ask people on the list for a filing fee to offset the cost of the program.
"It's time for us to take a second look at the things we need to do in North Carolina to make sure that sex offenders understand that North Carolina is not a place to move, not a place to live," said Iredell Republican Rep. Karen Ray, who is the co-chairwoman of the House Select Committee on Sex Offender Registration Laws.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison applauds lawmakers' efforts to toughen the law, even if it means more work for his staff. Currently, each county maintains the registry.
Harrison says that with the Internet, more sex offenders are preying on children.
"The kids are online all the time from a young age," he said. "Pedophiles know that, that's the way they're working."
Members of the committee plan to present a bill in the short session to tighten sex offender laws. They meet again to finalize the details March 15.
Beginning Jan. 1, 1996, people convicted of various sex-related crimes had to register with their local sheriff once they were released from prison or if they received a punishment without active prison time. Among the crimes that require registration are rape, sexual exploitation of a minor and taking indecent liberties with a child.
Residents can access the registry to determine whether a sex offender lives nearby by typing in a ZIP code, city, county or offender name. The site, which has received more than 4 million hits since it began in 1998, provides information on more than 9,700 offenders, including names and addresses, photographs and their crimes.
As of December, 1,086 registered sex offenders were scheduled to be removed from the list in 2006. Currently, there are about 10,000 in the system: 571 in Wake County, 233 in Durham County and 119 in Johnston County.