Supporters of the rights of criminal offenders turned out at legislative hearings on procedural matters Tuesday to complain about the way they are treated after serving their time.
The House Criminal Justice Committee heard testimony on bills to study the state's use of the sex offender registry and to add another means of notifying victims that an offender is up for parole.
Offenders complained that the sex offender registry overstates offenses in some instances, while parole advocates said that hearings sometimes amount to a new trial on the effect on victims.
The committee heard testimony at a hearing on a bill to establish a five-member study committee. The panel would be charged with looking into the way the sex offender registry is used and whether changes should be made in to provisions determining under what circumstances offenders can ask the courts to remove them from the registry.
The state registry provides for classification of sex offenders into general categories ranked according to the severity of the crime on which the offender was convicted. The hearing brought out a handful of sex offenders who testified of the hardships that being on the registry present, and supporters of strong requirements for registration of people convicted of sex crimes and its impact on their ability to obtain employment.
Laurie Peterson, a Manchester-area resident, told the panel that her husband was required to register as a tier 3 offender and said she knew firsthand of the difficulties that registration pose for the families of people convicted of sex crimes.
"Registration laws do not just target the offenders; they target everyone living in the home with the offender," Peterson said. "His or her children, his or her spouse, and even sometimes the victims of sexual abuse all carry the burden that public ...continued... by New Hampshire Union Leader