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Howell Bill Aims to Remove Employer Name, Address from Sex Offender Registry

State Sen. Janet Howell at Arlington Democrats 2011 election victory partyState Sen. Janet Howell (D), who represents parts of Arlington, has proposed a bill to exclude the name and address of registered sex offenders’ employers from the publicly available registry system.

The proposed bill would amend a section of the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act that deals with sharing registry information via the internet.

Howell’s bill would remove employer information from the part of the online system that’s available to the public.

Convicted sex offenders often have difficulty getting a job after being listed on the sex offender registry. Removing employer information would eliminate at least one disincentive from hiring a sex offender who has already served their time.

This is not the first time in the last five years such a bill has been proposed to the state legislature. Two previous bills also attempted to stop publishing employer information on the public online system. In 2010, the bill passed in the state Senate but was tabled in a House committee. It had less success in 2012, tabled again in a House committee without Senate consideration.

Howell didn’t introduce either of those bills, and could not be reached for comment on this year’s proposal. However, fellow local legislator Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) was one of the House members who proposed the bill in 2012.

In addition to their employer’s name and address, an offender’s name, age, current address, photograph and a description of the offense they committed with the date they were convicted are available to the public via the online registry system, which is maintained by the State Police.

Virginia’s 2016 General Assembly legislative session is scheduled to last for 60 days, beginning on Jan. 13 and ending on March 12.

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