PIERRE, SD -
Starting July 1, nearly 40 sex offenders currently on South Dakota's sex offender registry will be taken off the list, and hundreds more could be removed in the next decade. It's because of what's called a tiered registry; created during this year's legislative session.
On July 1, South Dakota's Attorney General will automatically take 37 sex offenders off the registry. Those cases are misdemeanor indecent exposures, which the legislature has decided are not offenses that require registration any more. The new law also allows certain statutory rape cases to eventually be taken off the list as well.
The registry is meant to give South Dakotans a glimpse at some of the most dangerous criminals living in their neighborhoods. The attorney general says removing some of those offenders will actually make the registry stronger.
"Those offenders that are that danger are on there and people when they see those names know they're there for a reason and to be careful," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said.
The majority of the 2,700 sex offenders on South Dakota's registry will remain there when the new laws kicks in. But, 'Romeo and Juliet' offenders will have the chance to ask the court to be taken off the list after they've been on it ten years. Those are cases of statutory rape where the offender is younger than 21 and the victim is older than 13.
"It is envisioned that the offender, if they believe they are eligible for removal, would file a petition, a court document with the court and serve the states attorney and attorney general's office and we would have an opportunity to respond," Jackley said.
Jackley estimates there are more than 650 'Romeo and Juliet' cases on the registry right now. They'd have to petition the court so authorities can make sure the offenders really should be taken off the list.
"Some of the petitions may well be valid and they will be then removed, others there may be disagreements and that's what the judge would ultimately resolve," Jackley said.
Because the state wants to make sure the serious sex offenders stay on the registry while still allowing some of the offenders to have a second chance.
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