July 28, 2015

Where is my sex offender now? Notices keep victims informed

This accomplishes what?
7-28-15 Pennsylvania:

A new partnership of state law enforcement and victim advocates will help ensure victims of sexual violence are updated when the status of their offender changes.

The Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Advocate are teaming up to identify and provide thousands of additional and sensitive notifications, said Jennifer Storm, the commonwealth's Victim Advocate.

In a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, Storm said the partnership will increase the office's ability to notify victims when the status of a registered sexual offender changes -- such as release from prison, chance of parole, change of employment, change of address or noncompliance with registration rules.

The Office of Victim Advocate annually issues 20,000 to 30,000 of these notifications by letter, phone or email, and the partnership is expected to increase notifications by 5,000 to 7,000, Storm said.

Storm said every time a victim is notified of an update in his or her case, it can lead to additional trauma and emotions that victim advocates are trained to understand. Counseling and other services are then be available to the notified victim.

Since the collaboration began on May 11, the the office has identified and registered an additional 798 victims to keep updated on the status of their cases and provide supportive services, Storm said.

"That is 798 victims who are now empowered, who are now informed and who now know the status of their offender," she said.

Joyce Lukima, chief operating officer of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said the notifications from the victim advocate group will allow for sensitive notifications that will take into account that stress.

"Survivors of sexual assault are often placed in a no-win situation, wanting to know the whereabouts of the person who has harmed them but also not wanting to constantly think about the crime that they have experienced," she said.

The partnership and additional notifications will be funded through a $143,000 grant from the Commission on Crime and Delinquency Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, said Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, who chairs that commission.

Pennsylvania State Police Captain Scott Price said sex offender information must be updated, but there is no law requiring victim information from being kept on file by law enforcement. So after a convicted sex offender is released after a lengthy prison sentence, local police are notified but there is no guarantee the victim will be notified.

Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed said his office often hears from victims who are worried after they have been notified of a change in their offender's status.

"We can get somebody convicted. We can get them sentenced. We can get them locked up," Freed said. "That doesn't change what happened to the victim."

Freed said he fully supported the partnership for providing more knowledge to victims of sexual violence in the state. ..Source.. by Sam Janesch

No comments: