A ruling in the Maryland Court of Appeals has given insight into the distinction between federal law and the state constitution that could result in the removal of 1,500 names from the Maryland Sex Offender Registry.
According to the ruling, federal law does not override the state constitution and because of that, up to 1,500 names could be gone from the state sex offender registry.
Documents state that adding sex offenders to the registry whose crimes were committed before the list was created in 1995 is a violation of the state constitution.
Adam Rosenberg, Executive Director at Baltimore Child Abuse Center said he's not surprised by the ruling.
"I understand the courts ruling in that these are people whose convictions before this law went into effect. I appreciate that. On the other side though, if we're building a system of child protection, it is one facet of our system which has been dismantled a little bit," Rosenberg explained.
Even so, Rosenberg stressed that the registry is a great tool but certainly doesn't guarantee the public is 100% informed.
"Even if people are on the registry, I think it underscores the fact that there are convicted sex offenders living in our community and there are also sex offenders who haven't been convicted who are living in our community, And having people's names on a list isn't necessarily going to keep us that much safer," Rosenberg said.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 54% of sexual assaults are never reported to the police.
Rosenberg said that is just one reason the registry should not be looked at as the only way to stay informed and fight abuse.
He said the first step is talking to your children about preventing sexual abuse. The second step is making sure professionals get the right training so they can recognize the signs.
"Three is youth serving organizations should be doing background checks so people who have been previously convicted of crimes involving children or involving people don't have access to children, and four is if we have suspicions of abuse, we have to report it. So we can certainly have a system that works to protect children without these people on the registry still," he told ABC2.
There are currently more than 8,000 registered sex offenders in Maryland.