November 12, 2012

A Special Report By Jerry Bohnen: Controversy Rages About DOC’s Classification Of Sex Offenders

What? Oklahoma has not implmented the Adam Walsh Act! Here the public is being misinformed... While his remaining comments may be fine, the initial premise is incorrect.
11-12-2012 Oklahoma:

When it comes to sex offenders, most Oklahomans have the attitude of “locking them up and throwing away the key.”

But not all offenders prey on young children. Not all are “stranger danger” cases. And not all are violent rapists. Not all are makers of child porn. Some are young men who chose to have sex with a girl they thought was of age and found out the sad truth, only to face a lifetime of registering as a sex offender, a lifetime of having the bold red letters SEX OFFENDER stamped across their driver’s license, and a lifetime of attending sexual counseling and enduring surprise home searches by probation officers.

Five years after the state of Oklahoma implemented the Adam Walsh Act, a federal law aimed at creating minimum standards for sex offenders, some prosecutors and others are suggesting it has only created confusion and too much blind power for the State Department of Corrections. In other words, it might be creating far more problems than the law is solving. In the words of a Pryor woman whose husband thought he was going to be required to be a registered sex offender for 15 years but was told he would have to do it for his lifetime, “It was a nightmare.”

One licensed professional counselor in Tulsa even suggests the act implemented by the State in order to receive millions in federal money, actually increases the risk that sex offenders pose to communities.

“If I were attempting to craft a set of laws that would increase the risk sex offenders pose to the community, Oklahoma’s laws would be the result,” stated Randy Lopp, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Tulsa. He is the current chairman of the Oklahoma Coalition for Sex Offender Management and has testified in numerous state and federal cases. The Sex Offender Management Team made recommendations to the State Corrections Department regarding the assessment and treatment of community bases sex offenders.

In short, here’s the problem as seen by critics of the program. Whenever someone pleads guilty or is convicted of a sex offense in Oklahoma, under the Adam Walsh Act, that person then is given a sex offender registration level assignment by the Department of Corrections. There are three levels created under the Act. Depending on the specific crime, the defendant can be classified as a level one and face up to 15 years of registering as a sex offender. A level two classification includes 25 years of registration. A level three offender faces a lifetime of registering as a sex offender.

Some defendants have been sentenced by a judge as a level one but once they entered the DOC system and met their probation officer, they were told strict adherence to the Act put them at level three. Of the 24 listed sexual crimes, 10 require a level three assignment of registering as a sex offender for a lifetime. They include incest, forcible sodomy, trafficking in children, rape in the first and second degree, and sexual ...continued... by Jerry Bohnen, Contributing Editor

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