SB 2732 tracks non-compliant sex offenders, notifies victims.
“Lenora’s Law” passed the Mississippi Senate today. The bill – SB 2732 – allows for GPS monitoring of sex offenders who get convicted of violating the state’s sex offender registry. If convicted, the offender would wear a GPS monitor that tracks their movement for the remainder of their sentence, up to five years.
The bill’s lead author, State Senator Will Longwitz (R-Madison), says using GPS technology will help enforce the sex offender registry and will keep people safe.
Longwitz said he wrote the bill after the murder of a Rankin County woman in September 2012. Lenora Edhegard was killed in her home by Cortrell Rose, a repeat sex offender who has confessed to the crime. Rose lived in Brandon next door to Edhegard, but he was registered in Hinds County. Longwitz said that if this law had been in effect, law enforcement would have known where Rose lived, and could have intervened.
“This was a tragic and needless situation,” Longwitz said of Lenora Edhegard’s death.
“If it were up to me, we would track every sex offender. We can’t,” Longwitz said. “But we can use GPS technology to put real teeth in our sex offender registry. The registry says we must know where a sex offender lives. If they don’t live at their registered address, we will convict them then monitor them to get the truth.” At least 16 other states use similar monitoring.
Ehdegard’s death exposed flaws in the current system, Longwitz said. “We can’t leave compliance in the hands of repeat offenders anymore,” said Longwitz. “Even though everybody was doing their job, this murderer found a way to cheat the system, and a good person died. If we can make the sex offender registry work better and notify people, we can protect victims and save innocent lives.”
The bill also improves the system that notifies people of a sex offender’s presence in their area. Local governments will use email, social media and other electronic communication to inform their citizens when a sex offender has moved in. In addition, former victims and their families can get an alert when the offender is in their vicinity. Costs are presumptively borne by the offender.
Longwitz said he looks forward to the support of his counterparts in the House of Representatives, which will consider the measure next in committee.
The bill was authored by Longwitz, and is co-authored by Senators Josh Harkins (Brandon), Sally Doty (Brookhaven) and Brice Wiggins (Ocean Springs), all Republicans.