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April 7, 2012

Oregon State guards sex offender registry

4-7-2012 Oregon:

COOS BAY — Currently, 446 registered sex offenders call Coos County their home.

But finding out if one of them is your neighbor or co-worker isn’t easy.

Names, photos and addresses of most sex offenders in Coos County are not available online. Instead, they are protected by the state sex offenders registry office and released only upon approval.

In fact, at its website at sexoffenders.oregon.gov, the State of Oregon Sex Offender Inquiry System publishes the names of just five percent of listed sex offenders. That five percent is made up of only some people classified as “predatory” or recommended by their supervising officer.

That means they exhibit characteristics showing a tendency to victimize or injure others, and are considered at a high risk to offend again.

According to the Coos County Community Corrections, 27 of our county’s 446 sex offenders are deemed “predatory.” But just 14 are listed on the state’s website. They’re also listed on the Web page of Coos County Community Corrections.

To learn the name of any other Oregon registered sex offender, a person must ask Vi Beaty, who manages the Oregon State Police’s sex offender registry. Beaty fields requests for names, addresses and photos of sex offenders.

Beaty releases the information only if the person requesting it provides a valid public safety concern.

“Just because you live in a neighborhood with children is not a good reason,” Beaty said. But, for example, parents can request the list of sex offenders in their neighborhood, or a library can request the list in its service area, to keep offenders out of the children’s section.

Instead of answering an inquiry about a particular person, Beaty gives the inquirer the whole list for their area.

Only sex offenders who are off supervision or those who have been deemed predatory are on the list. And not everyone who’s off supervision is on the registry’s list, although they are required, in some cases, to register with the Oregon State Police. Their names then go into a law enforcement encrypted system, meaning only law enforcement can see their names and past crimes.

“We don’t have a perfect world,” Beaty said. “We are understaffed. Some law enforcement don’t have resources to keep up with them.”

People who are deemed predatory must be convicted of rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration or sex abuse in any degree. Offenders can be deemed predatory by a parole board, parole officer or the registry office.

Coos County Community Corrections parole and probation officer Mike Crim said when he is considering whether to designate an offender as predatory, he looks at the age of the offender, the sexual violence involved in the crime, prior sex offenses, prior sentencing dates, convictions for non-contact sex crimes, victims not related to the offender and male victims.

“We have more than our share of sex offenders compared to other counties around the state,” Crim said.

Once an offender is designated predatory, it’s up to the supervising officer to determine whether or not that label should become public knowledge. If the supervising officer decides to notify the public of the predatory status, the offender’s picture, address, crimes and other information is posted by the registry office. Offenders’ information can be posted to the Web only if they are under supervision, unless the supervising officer discharges them at a high level, meaning they’re still at a high risk to re-offend.

“If they are discharged at a low or medium level, we don’t have the authority to post anything about them,” Beaty said. ..Source.. by Tyler Richardson who can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 236, or at trichardson@theworldlink.com

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