- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Virginia State Crime Commission officials say they will form an 18-member task force to improve the state registry system intended to track sex offenders.

The task force would seek ways to close loopholes that may enable some of Virginia’s roughly 13,200 convicted sex offenders to live in communities unbeknownst to area police.

The team will begin meeting in June and will investigate the resources state authorities need to monitor sex offenders and consider ways to better supervise the offenders who have been freed, Crime Commission Executive Director Kim Hamilton said.

Ultimately, she said, the task force hopes to encourage legislation strengthening the system.

The loopholes have surfaced after several news reports.

State Delegate Robert F. McDonnell, Virginia Beach Republican, recently asked officials for the number of convicted sex offenders not listed on the registry.

“I thought it would be an easy phone call to get the information,” Mr. McDonnell said. “Not only could they not provide it on an instant basis, I went to look at the registry and found obvious problems with it.”

Offenders have 10 days to register after release from prison; if they are released from a local jail, officials there aren’t required to notify state authorities.

It’s also up to offenders to provide new address information when needed.

That leaves police depending largely on known criminals to tell them their whereabouts — a plan that doesn’t always work, said Virginia State Police Lt. T.W. Turner, who helps oversee the registry.

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