Unfortunately, high profile crimes involving sex offenders have forced many folks to deal with the prospect of such an offender living in their community. Concern and fear rise in towns where sex offenders reside. These are very understandable feelings.

In this past session as a member of the Maine Legislature serving on the Criminal Justice Committee, I took a lead role in developing a piece of legislation that was designed to protect Mainers from sex offenders. During my eight years as a legislator, protecting people from sex offenders has been a concentration of mine. In the 120th Legislature, I worked with Rep. Julie O’Brien of Augusta to move legislation establishing lifetime probation for sex offenders and worked to increase the penalties imposed on sex offenders. It is this work that helped set the stage for the 121st Legislature.

In December 2003, Maine launched the online sex offender registry (http://www.informe.org/sor/). The Web site provides communities with information on offenders.

The Criminal Justice Committee was inundated with bills concerning sex offenders. Because of the seriousness of the problem, committee members set partisan differences aside and created L.D. 1903. I was proud to be involved with developing this vital piece of legislation.

The threat of sex offenders living in our communities will never go away. However, these new measures developed by the Legislature should make it easier for Mainers to sleep at night. Take the time to view the sex offender registry and utilize these resources to best protect your families.

Rep. Lois Snowe Mello, District 71, Poland

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