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Archive for Sunday, September 18, 2011

States lose track of some sex offenders

September 18, 2011

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Since 2006, 688 sex offenders on the Kansas Offender Registry have moved out of Kansas and not returned. This chart shows the registration status of those offenders in the states they moved to. There are 77 offenders who were deported, 113 who are in prison in another state, 161 not registered in the new state, and 337 who did show up on their new state's registry.

Since 2006, 688 sex offenders on the Kansas Offender Registry have moved out of Kansas and not returned. This chart shows the registration status of those offenders in the states they moved to. There are 77 offenders who were deported, 113 who are in prison in another state, 161 not registered in the new state, and 337 who did show up on their new state's registry.

The states sex offenders in Kansas are most likely to move to. Numbers are for registered sex offenders who moved from Kansas between 2006 and July 2011.

The states sex offenders in Kansas are most likely to move to. Numbers are for registered sex offenders who moved from Kansas between 2006 and July 2011.

Registry facts and guidelines

• Enacted in 1993 and applies to crimes committed only after April 14, 1994.

• Requires sex offenders to register in person four times each year with their local sheriff’s office.

• Adults are required to register for either 15 or 25 years, depending on the crime, for a first conviction, and life for a second conviction.

• Some more serious offenses require lifetime registration on a first conviction.

• Anyone required to register for an offense in another state is also required to register if they move to Kansas.

• Crimes requiring registration include sodomy, rape, sexual battery, indecent liberties with a child, sexual exploitation of a child and incest.

• Failing to register, or failing to notify the sheriff’s office within three days when there’s an address change, is a level 6 felony that could result in prison time.

• The public can search the registry online at no charge: accesskansas.org/kbi/ro.shtml.

• The U.S. Department of Justice operates the National Sex Offender Public Website, which compiles registry information from all 50 states. That site can be accessed at nsopw.gov.

The state of Kansas and county sheriff’s offices keep pretty close tabs on the more than 4,500 registered sex offenders in Kansas. Only 8 percent of registered sex offenders currently are not complying with registration requirements, which include verifying home addresses four times a year.

But when a sex offender moves out of state, it’s a different story.

A Journal-World investigation identified 161 registered sex offenders who have moved out of Kansas since 2006, but who do not show up on offender registries in the states they moved to.

For instance, in 2001, Curtis Mongold was convicted in Douglas County of sexually assaulting a girl. In addition to serving three years in prison, Mongold received a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender.

In January, Mongold notified Kansas authorities that he was moving to California, where he’d have to register. But there is no record of Mongold in California where he is supposed to be registered, according to the National Sex Offender Public Website, which collects registry information from all 50 states.

Kyle Smith, deputy director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said that the KBI sends letters to states that offenders move to, but after that it’s somebody else’s responsibility.

“It’s up to (the new state and the offender) to do,” Smith said.

There could be cases where an offender moves to one state, then to another, but that information isn’t necessarily communicated among states, Smith said.

That’s exactly the problem, said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for more accountability in sex offender registries nationwide.

“We’ve established a law that requires society’s most cunning of criminals to register on an honor system,” Ahearn said. “Where are those 161 offenders?”

Differing laws in different states makes keeping track of sex offenders a complicated endeavor, Ahearn said. In some cases, an offender in one state may not be required to register in another state. That leaves some clever offenders engaging in what Ahearn calls “state shopping,” where offenders move to a state where registry laws may not be as strict.

Ahearn scoffs at the idea that some states don’t aggressively monitor what happens to an offender when they leave a state.

“If you are going to require a sex offender to register for life, you should be monitoring them for life,” Ahearn said.

Kansas taking steps

Despite the issues identified during the Journal-World investigation, Kansas has taken steps to improve its sex offender registry.

A law that went into effect July 1 strengthened Kansas’ offender registry, increasing penalties for offenders who fail to register while reducing from 10 to three days the length of time offenders have to notify authorities of an address change. The updates earned Kansas recognition as just the 10th state in the country to comply with the 2006 federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, known as SORNA.

SORNA also gives the U.S. Marshals Service authority to investigate sex offenders who move out of state but fail to register in their new state. Matt Cahill, senior investigator with the marshals service’s Kansas office, said they’ve apprehended several sex offenders who fail to register in another state, which is a federal and state felony. Cahill said his office relies on tips from the public and law enforcement about which offenders are not in compliance across state lines. At Cahill’s request, the Journal-World forwarded the list of 161 offenders identified for this story to Cahill’s office for review.

Smith said that Kansas is also working on software that will allow the state to communicate more quickly with other states, intended to fix some of the problems with interstate movement. That software could be ready as early as next spring, Smith said.

But the way the sex offender registry system currently operates, in Kansas and across the country, could leave communities in the dark when dangerous offenders move in from another state, Ahearn said, subverting the intent of such laws.

And the pain that abuse victims have suffered is compounded by the mystery of where their offenders may be, Ahearn said.

“That’s terrifying to (victims) to not know where their offender is,” she said.

Comments

ralphralph 3 years ago

Why is a guy who was convicted of "sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy" not behind bars? Good grief.

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kawrivercrow 3 years ago

Because most lawyers and judges live in gated communities with on-duty security guards. They have no real need to provide a safe society for the rest of us.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years ago

Where is the large red lettering for this headline? This topic seems to gain front billing with most news organizations except it is usually presented in large flashing red text.

There is no question that offenders of this stripe are the most disgusting. But the question has to be asked, why just sex offenders? There are murderers, theives who have committed assault in their crimes, drunk drivers, etc. Why do they not also rate accounting? What is it about this crime that prompts legislators to writhe and squirm themselves into laws that require such careful and unattainable accountablilty? Is it not a heinous crime to commit murder? Is it not a heinous crime to beat an old lady to a pulp and rob her? Why sex offenders only? And just how is a law enforcement agency to pay for all this required accountability? What about people who repeatedly drink, drive and kill or maim some innocent person? Is this not as terrible a crime? There was a story a few years back about a man who was placed on the registry for having sex with his teenage girlfriend who was underage. They are married now and have childern. Are you o.k. with having this sex offender registry keep tabs on this man for life??

What is it about this particular crime that inflames such incendary passion in some people? I suppose the answer is that it causes the old ladies in the front row of church to stop giving money to the church if they do not support such immutable laws. Don't give me the old saw about knowing where they live will protect childern. Most such predators are persons who are known to the victim or their family. Very few hang around school and jump out of the bushes. They know that the schools are watching for them these days.

People who are forgiving of drunkeness, dope peddling, manslaughter seem to think that a criminal who has committed a sex crime is so much more awful than others. And lawmakers who pander to their political base are falling over themselves to make laws that address this probem, but without any consideration as to just how they will be enforced and just how to pay for their political pandering.

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been_there 3 years ago

Kansas offenders site offers three choices, violent, drug, and sex. I think they have for some time.

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Kat Christian 3 years ago

"On the Honor system" to register...OMG what honor do these monsters have if they've committed such terrible offense in the first place? What part of that does the court not recognize? Justice is very blind. Mongoose (or whatever his name) should be behind bars for assulting a handicapped individual.

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Kat Christian 3 years ago

"On the Honor system" to register...OMG what honor do these monsters have if they've committed such terrible offense in the first place? What part of that does the court not recognize? Justice is very blind. Mongoose (or whatever his name) should be behind bars for assulting a handicapped individual.

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ralphralph 3 years ago

Implant a tracking chip. It works for pets.

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Kat Christian 3 years ago

Good idea!! I mean afterall doesn't their behavior match that of an animal? They want to behave like an animal they should be treated like one. Humanly of course. Chip em.

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pachrismith 3 years ago

“I checked a registry and didn’t see any [sex] offenders living near my home so now I feel liberated to allow my six-year old to walk down to the park a few blocks away and play as much as she wants without inconveniencing me.” Anonymous “70% [of mental health professionals] thought community notification would foster a false sense of security for parents.” If six-year-old Samantha Runnion’s mother had checked the California sex offender registry on July 15, 2002, it would not have listed Alejandro Avila because he had not been convicted of any sex crime. Even if it had, he lived nearly 40 miles away. But that day, with Grandma just inside the house, he kidnapped Samantha from her front yard, raped, murdered and left her body in a roadside ditch some 50 miles from her home.
Jaycee Dugard’s step-father watched her walk to her school bus stop from their driveway on June 10, 1991. He saw the grey sedan slow, turn around, and go back to the stop where a woman got out, grabbed Jaycee and sped away. He just wasn’t close enough to do anything, even get the license number.
Too often, anger and fear lead us to wrong and even dangerous conclusions, like public registries can protect our children. Obviously, tragically, they don’t. Guard closely your children, parents; you are their only sure protection.

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