Archive for Saturday, October 29, 2005

House speaker says tax increase OK to keep sex offenders in prison

October 29, 2005


— House Speaker Doug Mays, a Republican candidate for governor, on Friday took a strong stance against child sex offenders and said he would support a tax increase to keep them in prison.

"You guys are always asking me when is a good time for a tax increase, and if it requires a tax increase to put child molesters in prison to protect our children, I'll vote for that," Mays said.

"The cost is the least of considerations on this one," he said to applause from Atty. Gen. Phill Kline and other Republicans at a news conference.

Mays, of Topeka, proposed legislation that would prohibit sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or licensed day care. If approved, the law would require that sex offenders currently living within that zone move or face prison time.

The bill also increases the penalty for sex offenders who fail to register with authorities or provide a wrong address. The punishment would increase from a range of five months to 13 months in prison to 22 months to 46 months in prison.

Concerned Women of America praised the proposal, especially in light of a recent check of a random sample that, according to the Attorney General's Office, found 21 percent of sex offenders didn't live at their registered addresses.

"Many prosecutors do not bother to prosecute those offenders who do not re-register because the penalty is so insignificant," said Judy Smith, state director of the Kansas chapter of the Concerned Women of America.

Tonya Smith, head of People Against Sex Offenders, who identified herself as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, also supported Mays' proposals.

"This bill is a wonderful start to protect Kansas children," said Smith, of Topeka.

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 about 4,000 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 or

Mays, who said he didn't think sex offenders could be rehabilitated, added that he planned to file his bill for the 2006 legislative session that starts in January and make its passage a top priority.

Mays also is a co-sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment, called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, that would require statewide voter approval of tax increases. He said Kansans would support paying more taxes if that was required to expand prison capacity for sex offenders.

"I think if we went to the people of Kansas and said, 'Would you be willing to pay a little extra in taxes to put child molesters away, even if it meant lots and lots of people being put away?' they'd say yes," Mays said.

Mays is vying for the Republican Party nomination to run for governor next year. Former House speaker Robin Jennison, and state Sen. Jim Barnett, of Emporia, have also announced their intentions to run in the GOP primary. Two frequent candidates, Dennis Hawver, of Ozawkie, and Richard Rodewald, of Lawrence, also are running for the Republican nomination.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, is expected to seek a second four-year term but has not made a formal announcement.

Mays' proposals on sex offenders

Proposals from House Speaker Doug Mays to deal with sex offenders: ¢ Prohibit sex offenders who have victimized children from living within 2,500 feet - or about a half-mile - of a school or licensed day care center after being released from prison. ¢ Require offenders who were already living in such a "safety zone" to move. ¢ Make it a felony for such sex offenders to live within a safety zone, punishable by at least 22 months in prison, depending on the offenders' past convictions. ¢ Increase the penalties for sex offenders who are required by law to register with law enforcement officials after leaving prison but fail to do so. Their prison sentence would be at least 22 months. Currently, the minimum sentence is five months. ¢ Prevent offenders from being placed on probation for violating the registration law, which is allowed now. ¢ Require sex offenders to renew their driver's licenses annually, instead of once every six years, to make it easier for law enforcement officials to track them and post their correct addresses on the Internet. ¢ Mandate that offenders register with law enforcement officials if they have been convicted of violent or sex crimes committed on or after July 1, 1985, even if they haven't had to register before. The current law now applies to crimes committed in 1994 and afterward. - Source: Mays' office.


Richard Heckler 12 years, 5 months ago

Rep Mays has his head on backwards. Perhaps the prison sysytem needs to manage it's funds a bit more efficiently.

Sigmund 12 years, 5 months ago

A republican canidate who has come out strong against sex predators. What a gutsy move. Seriously though, Kansas already has a law that allows for "civil committment" after a offender has served prison time (assuming they were not sentenced by Judge Martin and get prison time). Their address is in Larned, KS, if I remember correctly, and given it's run by a psychologist who believes sex offenders can never be cured, it's likely to be their permanent address. This is nothing but a callous exploitation of a real problem to scare voters, raise general revenues (which probably will never be spent for the intended purpose), and give the impression that if you don't vote for republicans you are soft on sexual offenders. I'd be laughing at this transparent political scare mongering if it wasn't so sad.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 5 months ago

If there is a space shortage releasing non violent offenders could create space for the more aggressive offenders.

Cold and Hot: That's what Mays uses to counter the need for increased funding to the public school system.

Jamesaust 12 years, 5 months ago

Well, the early GOP primary race has begun with the candidates trying to 'out-extreme' one another. Maybe one of the other candidates will one-up him and go for the simple, capital punishment 'final solution.'

One wonders if Mays backs Morrison over Kline regarding the critical need to get non-violent, low risk offenders out of the prisons to make more room for the risky ones.

Most of the proposals do stand a reasonable chance of passage. There are some legal and more importantly practical problems with a few items however.

  1. 2,500 ft. "safety zone" - is there any evidence that this provides a material increase in safety? Why not 5,000 ft.? Or 2,499? There's 49 other states to compare notes with. Surely, somewhere they've done something similar. Is Mays proposing we take this action just so we can feel good about taking (an otherwise ineffective) action?

I'm not at all certain where the exact circumference of 2,500 ft. lies from my home. I do know that there is a private school within that distance (does Mays' plan cover private schools?). I don't know about day care. I assume the offender is supposed to keep track of this? Are day care applicants going to be denied registration because a sex offender already lives within this distance from their proposed facility? Does this plan just 'ruralize' sex offenders? What do rural residents think about that?

  1. Felony for living with the "zone" with (a maximum) penalty of 22 months. I doubt this would pass muster in the courts. It is disproportionate to realistic harm done and amounts to making a felony out of non-compliance with a regulatory rule. Besides, if Mays' other efforts result in the State having better control of the location of these offenders (something I believe most all of us support) then isn't it the STATE that has failed to note that the offender is within the "safety zone"? Will this make the State liable for negligence if something happens? Or will the State claim sovereign immunity for its incompetence? Isn't that just a battle between taxpayers and the victimized?

  2. The giant loophole that Mays apparently has no plan for is a significant problem: those who move out of Kansas and those who move into Kansas. Will it be of any comfort to the aggrieved parents of a molested child that the criminal wasn't a Kansan?

Godot 12 years, 5 months ago

"If there is a space shortage releasing non violent offenders could create space for the more aggressive offenders."

What sexual offenses do you consider to be non-violent?

Jamesaust 12 years, 5 months ago

Why would anyone assume that non-violent offenders are sexual offenders?

Did Mays check with Kansas GOP leader Brownback before coming up with this scheme? Other than his front-row place in the Harriet Miers fiasco this week, Sam's most newsworthy efforts this week involved uping the ante on a House of Representatives bill to provide $80 million on rehabilitation programs (a/k/a, "second chance" grants). What's the position of the king of Kansas Republicans? He wants $300 million, nearly 4 times the lucre. [Hint: cost of incarcerated in 1981 = $9 billion; cost in 2001 = $56 billion.]

Godot 12 years, 5 months ago

Child molesters are often employed people with assets. Make them use up all their assets to pay the state for their care, just as if they were in a nursing home and on Medicaid.

This should apply to all people sentenced to prison. Why in the world should the citizens of Kansas foot the bill for incarcerting Westar's David Wittig? Let the SOB pay.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 5 months ago

Do the no tax groups such as (Kansas) Club for Growth accept prisons over public schools? Mays does receive some funding from no tax groups.

Godot 12 years, 5 months ago

Thanks to you, I just now learned of this group's existence. Google is great, isn't it?

This is not a "no-tax" group. Remedial training in basic reading comprehension skills are needed by the above poster.

This is a "no more tax INCREASE" group. Big difference there.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 5 months ago

Godot, The Mays plan is a tax increase any way you lok at it.

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