PROVIDENCE — The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday endorsed a bill that would close a loophole allowing the worst sex offenders to disappear from the radar while they are awaiting — or are challenging — formal assessments of their likelihood to commit repeat offenses.
Since medical marijuana was legalized in 2006, many of the almost 600 Rhode Islanders like Smith, who are authorized to use drug to relieve pain from certain debilitating diseases, have noted a major loophole in the law: it provided no clear path for them to obtain marijuana, leaving them to try to grow it themselves, or buy it off the streets.
But the General Assembly has been loath to change the law, in part because of opposition from groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and several women’s rights organizations who say the bill would harm victims of sex trafficking by subjecting them to prison terms and property forfeiture. They emphasize that Rhode Island already has felony statutes that deal with pimping, harboring for prostitution and deriving support from prostitution.
“All that closing the so-called loophole can do is punish more women,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the ACLU.