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ND has another year to comply with sex offender registration laws

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Earlier this month, North Dakota received another extension from the federal government, putting off for another year compliance with a 2006 law setting national standards for sex offender registration.

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It's the last extension allowed by the feds and the state may never comply with the law the way it's written.

The law is known for creating the Dru Sjodin national sex offender website, named after a University of North Dakota student who was kidnapped and killed nearly seven years ago.

Unlike several of the states and American Indian nations that haven't complied with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, also known as the Adam Walsh act -- only three states and two nations have. North Dakota doesn't have funding problems. It has a difference of opinion.

"We're in full compliance except for a couple of areas and those areas are where I have policy disputes with the one-size-fits-all federal approach," said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. The state, he said, is "99 percent" in compliance.

One of those areas of differences is how sex offenders are assessed for risk. The federal law says risk should be based on the statute the offender was convicted of. North Dakota has a committee that evaluates not just the crime, but factors that could increase the risk of reoffending.

He's not alone. Some law enforcement experts feel the same way and have told Congress so.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who wrote the part of the law creating the Dru Sjodin website, said he understands many states feel they have a better way to deal with sex offenders, but that can be addressed after they've come into compliance.

-- Tran is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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