Pressure to Upgrade Sex Offender Registry in Navajo Nation

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 More than 700 convicted sex offenders live on the Navajo Reservation and the number grows almost weekly.

That's according to verbal and written reports submitted to the Council's Law and Order Committee in February and March.

The reports, presented by Criminal Investigations Supervisor Robert Platero of the Crownpoint Police District, were accompanied by draft legislation for a new law - the Navajo Nation Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2012 - and amendments to the criminal code.

Law and Order Committee Vice Chairperson Alton Shepherd is the prime sponsor of the proposed law, which was posted on the Navajo Nation Council website for five days of public comment, which ended on March 20 and begins committee review before going to the Council for final approval.

The committee has worked on legislation to beef up registration requirements since February and on March 2 approved a final draft for Shepherd to put into legislation. The committee members agreed to co-sponsor the bill together in hopes of speeding its passage into law.

Platero and Assistant Attorney General Regina Holyan, both part of the tribe's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Task Force, have stressed to the committee that the tribe has until July to show the federal government that it has "substantially" registered sex offenders on the reservation.

Platero and Holyan said the Council must approve the new law this month in order to provide enough time to complete all the steps needed to meet the federal expectations.

This includes finalizing forms related to registering sex offenders, training law enforcement and judicial personnel, activating a sex offender registry website no later than June and additional training for employees who will be responsible under the new law.

If the tribe does not complete these steps by July, they explained, the federal government will be required under a 2006 law to hand over the job of keeping track of sex offenders on the reservation to state authorities in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The law is the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Read more here.