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Should Employers Be Listed on Virginia State Sex Offender Registry?

Legislation could help offenders move back into the workforce.

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A state senator has proposed a bill to strike the name and location of sex offenders’ employers from the state’s public registry system.

The Virginia State Police department lists employer information alongside offender photos, names, addresses, ages and a description of the offense and the date committed.

The proposed legislation could help sex offenders make a transition back into society, says Christina Mancini, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor who studies sex crimes.

Similar to other criminals, housing and employment are two of the biggest indicators of recidivism rates for sex offenders, Mancini says. Employed offenders could feel that they have something to lose if they continue to commit sex crimes.

She also says that keeping employer information from the public could reduce incidences of vigilante justice. Businesses who have hired offenders could also be less stigmatized.

On the other hand, Mancini says that restricting information makes it harder for the public to know about the presence of sex offenders and take precautions they might deem necessary.

Janet Howell, D-Reston, who patroned the legislation known as Senate Bill 11, couldn’t be reached for comment. Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said that the department doesn’t comment on pending legislation.

In the past five years, other legislators have failed to pass two similar bills. One was in 2010 and the other was in 2012. Not all states choose to list employer information on public sex offender registries.

A search of the state police’s sex offender registry shows that there are 1,003 sex offenders living in Richmond. Virginia was home to 21,591 sex offenders as of June 1, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Throughout the U.S., there were 843,260.

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