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Archive for Sunday, September 25, 2005

SRS won’t release sex predator names

September 25, 2005

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— It's currently not possible to report exactly who is living here in the sexual-predator program, how they got there and from which Kansas counties they came.

The state's Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, which oversees the program, won't release a list of the inmates' names, saying that would violate confidentiality.

And as of this week, Atty. Gen. Phill Kline's office - which is in charge of filing sexual-predator cases - still had not released the comprehensive list of predators sought by the Journal-World in a July 22 open-records request.

Tim Davis, a former clinical group leader for the sexual-predator program and now a professor at Fort Hays State University, said he believed many of the program's residents should not be there.

The program was intended to house only those who could not control their behaviors, but he said the program has "fallen down."

"I would say at least half, probably more, don't really belong there," Davis said. "There's not an imminent danger of them to reoffend."

Davis cited the case of an inmate he worked with whose only crime was hugging a girl on a softball field for too long.

Austin DesLauriers, the clinical director for the Larned program, disputed Davis' claims. He said that from time to time - perhaps with 1 percent or 2 percent of the inmates - he's questioned whether the inmate truly poses a risk to Kansas residents. But in all cases, he said, "it has become quite clear that the person's problem went beyond the seeming low-level nature of his offenses."

Davis responded, "I don't buy it."

"The issue is whether or not they pose a risk to reoffend, not whether or not they have issues. All sex offenders have issues," he said. "They have a good number of residents who were evaluated and found not to be a risk. Later, they came back on a technical parole violation and were re-evaluated by another evaluator and found to fit the criteria."

Gene Schmidt, father of murdered Pittsburg State University student Stephanie Schmidt, was instrumental in getting the sex-predator law passed. He said he's disappointed that more people aren't put into the program. The percentage of sex offenders released from prison each year who end up being committed to the program ranges from roughly 3 percent to 11 percent.

"It's a very narrow brush that's being used," he said. "There's a lot of bad sex offenders out there that I think are more than borderline that we're not putting into the program."

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