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Legislation to post sex offenders' names on Web passes Senate

February 06, 2001|By LAURA ERNDE

Legislation to post sex offenders' names on Web passes Senate



ANNAPOLIS - A proposal to post sex offenders' names and pictures on the Internet was met with little opposition at a Senate hearing Tuesday.

"I really think we owe the children of Maryland, the families of Maryland, if there are people in the neighborhood who have committed sex crimes," testified Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, who is sponsoring the bill.

Gov. Parris Glendening's proposed budget includes $200,000 so the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services can put up a Web site.

"That's the best news I heard today. There's money in the budget," said Sen. Leo E. Green, D-Prince George's, vice chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee.

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It would cost the state about $65,000 a year to maintain the Internet site, according to the Maryland Department of Legislative Services.

Munson said he was sensitized to the issue by the November death of Christopher Ausherman, 9, of Frederick, Md.

Many states, including neighboring West Virginia, already post the names.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the Internet listing because it constitutes additional punishment and could have unintended consequences.

ACLU spokeswoman Mindy Binderman said a Harford County, Md., woman got harassing phone calls after her address was mistakenly put on the state's sex offender registry.

Munson said staff members responsible for the Web site would quickly correct any errors.

Munson's bill also would protect Realtors from being sued for not disclosing sex offender information that can be found on the Internet. In Maryland, Realtors have a duty to reveal "material facts" about a property.

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