November 17, 2011

New law allows notification of unclassified sex offenders

There is no doubt that this is overkill. If a registrant is declared a low level then he has been revealed when he should not have been. Further there isn't a single study showing that community notification makes anyone safer.
11-17-2011 Texas:

If it weren't for a law passed by the state legislature and enacted in July, eight members of the Baxter County Sheriff's Office would not have spent a blustery Wednesday morning in the Northpointe subdivision notifying citizens a sex offender had moved into their neighborhood.

Law enforcement personnel were handing residents fliers with information regarding 50-year-old William Sean Lynch, a sex offender who recently moved into the neighborhood.

Lynch was convicted in 1996 of two counts of child molestation for touching an 11-year-old girl, according to Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery.

Those crimes occurred in Indianapolis, Ind., according to court records. Lynch was subsequently convicted twice in Florida for failing to register as a sex offender.

Prior to the new sex offender notification law's passage, law enforcement officials had to wait until an offender was given a level classification by the Sex Offender Screening and Risk Assessment Program of the Department of Corrections.

"That usually takes six to eight months," said Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery. "People would get very upset with us when we'd knock on their door eight months later to tell them a sex offender was living nearby."

Montgomery said he and other law enforcement officials who lobbied the legislature for the change in law had their hands tied by the old law.

"Under the old law, I knew there was a sex offender living there, but I couldn't tell people about it," Montgomery said. "I wasn't the only law enforcement officer getting beat up by the public for this."
Door to door

By law, when a sex offender moves into a neighborhood, authorities are required to go door-to-door to notify residents. Sgt. Ken Grayham was one of the deputies knocking on doors Wednesday morning.

"When we do this, there are some people who've already read about the sex offender in The Baxter Bulletin or read about him on the newspaper's website," Grayham said. "But then there are those people who are unplugged, as my daughter says, and those people are really appreciative of us informing them about sex offenders."

One of those resident.s was retired Chicago firefighter Jerry Burke.

"I think you guys are doing a great job," Burke told Grayham. "I know how important it is."

Later, after helping deputies knock on doors, Montgomery agreed with Burke's assessment of the notification process.

"There have been several pieces of legislation that have passed in recent years to strengthen the sex offender laws," said Montgomery. "This law, regarding immediate notification prior to a sex offender being classified, is a highly effective tool in helping us keep the public informed and safe." ..Source.. by JOSH DOOLEY

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