- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

RICHMOND — The Virginia State Crime Commission’s sex offender task force yesterday recommended a mandatory minimum 25-year sentence for first-time sexual offenders who assault children younger than 13.

The penalty would apply to the crimes of forcible sodomy, sexual penetration with an object and rape. Currently, perpetrators of such crimes face sentences of five years to life in prison.

“We know they’re going to recidivate at high rates, we know that the likelihood of them being rehabilitated is extremely small,” said Delegate Bob McDonnell, Virginia Beach Republican and commission co-chairman. “Therefore, the first thing we can do is take them off the streets.”

The recommendation was among dozens approved by the task force that will be rolled into two bills focusing on the state’s sex offender registry and civil commitment process, in which certain violent predators are sent indefinitely to tightly controlled treatment programs after completing their sentences.

The bills will be presented at the task force’s meeting next month and will be considered by the General Assembly when it reconvenes in January, said commission Executive Director Kim Hamilton.

The task force also recommended a mandatory minimum of three years of electronic monitoring for many sex offenders after their release, and recommended that those convicted of killing a minor be forced to register with the state.

The task force also approved harsher penalties for sex offenders who fail to register, such as banning certain offenders from loitering near schools or day-care centers, and mandatory background checks for contract workers hired by public and private schools.

The Virginia State Police revealed a prototype of a new state sex offender registry Web site, which the task force recommended include all registered sex offenders, rather than just those classified as sexually violent.

Of the 13,265 listed on Virginia’s registry, 82 percent are violent offenders.

The prototype provides a mapping option that would enable the user to see where registered sex offenders live.

The Web site would cost $1.8 million to operate the first year and $300,000 annually thereafter, Miss Hamilton said.

The task force plans to ask the governor to include that cost in his budget, with the $2.2 million annual operating cost associated with the 25-year mandatory minimum sentence and the $8.2 million it would cost the state police in the first year to increase their monitoring of sex offenders, Miss Hamilton said.

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