Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2005

Kline, Sebelius urge tougher sex crime laws

August 18, 2005

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday urged the Legislature to increase punishment for sex crimes and announced steps to better track sex criminals once they leave prison.

The news conference by Sebelius, a Democrat, followed a news conference on Tuesday by Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, a Republican, who covered much of the same ground.

"We're glad she's on board with the attorney general and his efforts to protect Kansans," Whitney Watson, a spokesman for Kline, said.

Sebelius announced that state law enforcement agencies have linked their databases to better account for the whereabouts of sex offenders.

If there is a discrepancy between the address on the state offender registry with a parole or community corrections database, "there would be an immediate flag," Kansas Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz said.

"It creates an immediate response to the situation," he said.

In Kansas, people convicted of sex crimes must register with law enforcement officials and provide their address, place of employment and vehicle information. There are 4,026 registered offenders, approximately two-thirds of them convicted of a crime involving a child.

The offenders are listed on a Kansas Bureau of Investigation Web site at http://www.access kansas.org/kbi/ro.shtml.

On Tuesday, Kline released an audit based on a random sample of contacts with sex offenders, that found the state had lost track of about 14 percent of sex offenders. He proposed formation of a task force to implement changes that would toughen sex crime penalties.

On Wednesday, Sebelius also called on the Legislature to enact a proposal offered by her and Kline two years ago that would increase prison sentences for repeat sex offenders.

Asked about the timing of her news conference after Kline's, Sebelius said, "I think it is an indication that we are both working on the same issue. I'm enthusiastic that we are clearly working on the same goal."

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