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Clegg: Adam Walsh Bill Gives Sex Offenders "License" to Avoid Arrest

May 5, 2008

Concord, NH - Debate is raging in the State House over just how closely New Hampshire should track sex offenders. Last week, a Senate committee removed key provisions of the state's proposed "Adam Walsh" law, turning down calls from police and victims' advocates to suspend the driver's licenses of offenders who fail to register. Senator Bob Clegg of Hudson says a suspended license could help law enforcement recognize such offenders during routine traffic stops.

"When they run that check, that suspension immediately comes up, and they look for the reason why. Without that protection, they may just decide at 3 a.m. to give him a warning, not knowing that he's a convicted sex offender wanted for not registering."

Clegg says New Hampshire isn't trying to duplicate the national Adam Walsh Act, but to craft a law that's just as strict as New Hampshire needs it to be. The national act was named for a boy abducted and murdered in Florida in 1981. The entire Senate takes up the bill on Thursday, and Clegg hopes the upper house will restore some of the protections removed by the committee.

Opponents argue too many restrictions could make offenders think they have nothing to lose from offending again, but Clegg believes keeping them on a short leash is better protection for children.

"I think that we should do anything but fear child sex predators. I think we ought to stand up, stand tall, and work to make sure that they don't have an opportunity to repeat the behavior they’ve already been convicted of doing before."

The bill that contained the license revocation provision is HB1640, the "Adam Walsh" bill. A companion bill, HB1613, is also going to the Senate this week.

John Robinson/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NH