The Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill early Thursday morning that deals with taking individuals off the sexual offender registry in certain cases.
House bill 2613 will remove individuals who committed sexual offending acts under the age of 22 to be taken off the registry after they turn 35. These individuals must have committed these crimes when they were under the age of 22 and their victim or peace officer acting as a minor must have been of the ages of 15, 16, or 17 years old. The defendant must also have not had been convicted of a felony or specialized sexual offense in 10 years to be elilagble.
The acts that were not permissible for termination of the sexual offender registry on this bill include: sexual assalut, child molestation, continouis child abuse, violent sexual assault, child prostiution, child sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of a minor.
A chairman for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Benjamin Bull spoke on the specifics on this bill as he advocated for the proposed bill in this reading. He made the point of the development of the minds of the youth and the choices that come with consequences.
“The point here is that I believe in the development of a mind and of our will that there are stages of our development where our will and agency are imposed and expected and those standards are expected but we certainly don’t expect even though some have limited will and even an inability to give consent that will and agency and responsibility increases over time.” Bull said.
After he discussed this matter the committee was prompted to ask any questions they had for Bull. Rep. Andrea D’Alessandro, D-Dist. 2 was concerned that the age was incorrect as mothers of defendants affected by this bill have been continuously asking for it to be lower than 35 years of age. This was met with some commotion from Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Dist.12.
“The reason this bill is being heard in this committee is because this isn’t based on just arbitrary selection of dates. This was crafted based on current research and what the speaker referred to as scientific evidence so to go below 35 actually if it were below 35 it wouldn’t be on the agenda today and the only reason I’m hearing it is because I believe the speaker is committed to following this bill through the process and not amending it because this was based on work done by not only other people but it will rely upon but a psychologist who works in this field very extensively and she’s the one who helped put this together so that’s the basis of this,” He said.
“Quite honestly I’m a little uncomfortable with it as it is not because I think we ought to lock people up and throw away the key but because as I’ve told the speaker in conversations that he’s referred to if we’re going to err on the side of somebody I would err on the side of the victim rather than on the side of the perpetrator.” Farnsworth said.
The chairman called for other speakers to share their sides of the bill as he read a list a loud of all those willing to speak. Vicky Campos spoke on behalf of her son who is on the registry.
“Like most Americans I always believed that the system was fair and just and that our due justice worked for the most part. I believed that those people we have in prison were there for a good reason, but 10 years ago I learned differently. My son was senior in college and he got it on with a high school girl when her family discovered they had sex we were thrust into the justice system with the force of the state.as a mother as you can imagine I was devastated. I never in a million years thought I’d be visiting my son behind razor wire, but I was there every weekend for 5 long years. I wanted him to remember who he was. I didn’t want his life to be defined by this one act. I was there when he was beaten by other inmates. I was there when he was put in solitary confinement simply for asserting his rights as a citizen. I was there the day he came home. He paid his debt to society but because he was put on the sex offender registry, his punishment will never ever be over.” Campos said
The bill was passed was 6 votes for the bill and 0 against. This bill will now make its way to the Senate floor in the coming months.