A bill presented this legislative session would allow sex offenders to petition to have their names removed from the Utah Sex Offender and Kidnap Offender Registry after five years.
Tuesday the senate voted to send the bill, HB13, back to the house for amendments.
Proposed by Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, HB13 has focused mainly on an unnamed couple’s experience.
“In this case he was 19 and she was 15 when they made the wrong choice,” Draxler said. “However, he went through the legal process and married her and today they have several children. But because his name is still on the sex registry, he cannot take his kids to the park or live certain places and it’s affected his employment.”
Draxler also emphasized this is not a singular incident, pointing out that since the bill was presented, hundreds of individuals in similar circumstances have surfaced with similar scenarios. Though, Draxler said, “Not all of them are Romeo and Juliet.”
Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, who voted in favor of the bill, said he approved of the measures the bill takes to ensure not just anyone is eligible for removal from the list.
Powell said he has seen similar circumstances in which the sexual relations were consensual and separated by only a few years.
Nathan Haines, aBYU student studying percussion, expressed mixed feelings on the bill, having known someone in that situation.
“On one side you say forgiveness is real but on the other side you need to protect your community,” Haines said. “I knew someone who was on the list and then relapsed and now he’s in jail … so I definitely think it depends on the severity.”
[pullquote]“On one side you say forgiveness is real but on the other side you need to protect your community,” Haines said. “I knew someone who was on the list and then relapsed and now he’s in jail … so I definitely think it depends on the severity.”[/pullquote]
Sabina Safsten is also a BYU student with a personal connection to someone on a sex offender registry.
“I am very highly in favor of it,” she said. “There needs to be a proof of change and it needs to be highly regulated … but I do believe change is possible.