New Rules For Sexual Offenders Begin October 1 - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

New Rules For Sexual Offenders Begin October 1

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BOZEMAN -

Many new laws are going into effect October 1 in Montana.  One of them regards sex offenders.

County attorneys will now be able to add a tier level to sex offenders who currently don't have one assigned.

A tier level classifies how likely an offender would repeat their crime.

Currently, more than half of Montana's sex offenders don't have a tier designation, according to Montana's sexual or violent offender registry.

State Representative Jenny Eck, who introduced the bill, said that's a problem. 

"This is a problem because if a sex offender doesn't have a tier designation they default to a tier one status in terms of how they are...what kind of supervision they have," said Eck.

In Montana, a tier one means the risk that offender repeat their crimes is low, for tier three that risk is high and the person is considered a threat to public safety.

Eck said sexual offenders who were convicted and registered before 1997, before the tier system was in place, and offenders who moved from another state are the ones currently without a designation.

She said with this new law, county attorneys can change that.

"It gives the option for prosecutors to say we are really concerned about this offender will you please allow us to do a psycho-sexual evaluation on this person so we can get a proper tier designation," said Eck.

Eck said making sure sexual offenders have the proper designation is really about protecting children.

"It is really important to know who is in our neighborhood," said Eck. "I have two kids and I certainly want to know who is living around me and if a tier level three sex offender is down the street from me I want to know that."

Eck said she would like to see every offender with a tier designation, but it is up to each county attorney to decide what offenders need a new tier designation.

She said that's because it came down to money.

"The problem always comes down to money," said Eck.  "These sexual psycho evaluations are really expensive so we didn't want to mandate it because that would be a really big burden on the counties."

Eck said every offender who would be affected would still get a hearing if the court decides to change their tier designation.

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