- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2005

OCEAN CITY — Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will ask the legislature in January to adopt stricter laws regulating sex offenders, including lifetime electronic monitoring of the most violent sexual predators.

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, announced his plan yesterday in a speech to the Maryland Association of Counties’ summer conference here.

Maryland in particular must do more to supervise and jail child sex offenders, he said, because of “the insidious nature of this problem.”

The governor joins Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley in calling for tougher laws to protect children and adults from rapists and child molesters.

Mr. O’Malley, an unannounced candidate for the Democratic nomination to oppose Mr. Ehrlich in next year’s gubernatorial election, proposed a similar plan last week.

Under the O’Malley plan, convicted child molesters would be required to wear bracelets enabling authorities to track them by satellite for the rest of their lives.

Mr. Curran, a Democrat, also has proposed lifetime monitoring, perhaps using the type of satellite monitoring suggested by the mayor.

In addition to lifetime monitoring, Mr. Ehrlich will submit a second bill that would require all sex offenders to appear twice a year in person to update their information on the state’s sex-offender registration Web site.

A renewed interest in strengthening Maryland’s child-sex-offender laws resulted from the recent arrest of Carl Preston Evans Jr. of Essex in the killing of his 13-year-old stepdaughter.

Evans, a convicted rapist, was required by state law to register as a sex offender. But it was discovered after his arrest that his name was misspelled on the registry and the listed address was inaccurate.

State officials acknowledged that data could be incorrect on more than 800 of the 4,300 offenders in the sex-offender database.

Moments after Mr. Ehrlich’s speech, an aide to Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat who also plans to run for governor next year, handed out a statement. In it, Mr. Duncan said the state “is failing to get the job done when it comes to protecting the public from sexual predators.”

Better tracking is needed, but the “political gamesmanship that is being played does nothing to prevent attacks or help the victims of these horrendous crimes,” Mr. Duncan said.

Mr. Ehrlich’s plan, called the Sex Offenders Compliance and Enforcement in Maryland Initiative, would provide a new Web site where Marylanders could find photos and information on sex offenders who do not keep their registrations up to date.

Although it would not contain additional information not on the current database, Ehrlich aides said it would be easier for Marylanders to help track down those whose information is not accurate if they are on a separate, smaller list.

Mr. Ehrlich said he will include $700,000 in next year’s budget for local police agencies, which are responsible for registering sex offenders.

He also directed the Motor Vehicle Administration to link its databases with the Maryland Sex Offender Registry so law enforcement officials will be immediately alerted if they stop someone who is a sex offender.

“We need to do more with regard to child sexual offenders,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

The governor said he will direct state police to work with local police agencies to conduct two enforcement nights a year in which police would make random checks to see if sex offenders live at the addresses listed on the Web site.

The state also will take part in a national initiative of the cell-phone industry to allow Marylanders to get “Amber alerts” on their phones when a child is abducted.

All state cell phones will be on the list to get alerts, and Mr. Ehrlich encouraged Marylanders to sign up to receive the free messages.

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