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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Sex offender laws working well in area

Friday, October 12, 2012

Iowa's sex offender laws continue to be under fire, sometimes described as "one size fits none," but in Buena Vista County, the existing laws seem to be working well, according to Major Doug Simons, who heads up enforcement of the Sex Offender Registry for the county sheriff's department.

The problem is, he adds, that the workload in tracking the offenders continues to grow as additional people are convicted.

"Over the 12 years we have seen more and more and more people on that list, and that trend is only going to continue - a few years ago laws were changed and a lot of people stay on the offender list much longer now, some for 25 years instead of the 10 years it used to be, and in more cases, for life."

The department is charged with knowing exactly where those people are, for as long as they reside in the county, and conducting checks.

There are about 52 people currently on the Sex Offender List in Buena Vista County, the third highest in the northwest quarter of the state and trailing only Woodbury County (the Sioux City metro area) and Cherokee County which is higher than BV because it is required to count residents of an inpatient treatment program for sexual abusers.

The sheriff's department has three people working on the sex offender registry enforcement at any given time, trying not to tie up any one officer's time from attending to other duties, according to Sheriff Gary Launderville.

Sex offenders who are new convicts, releases or have moved into the county are required to register with the sheriff's department. At that point, Simons said, they informed of the rules and given a written copy to sign.

The newest laws passed created a "tier" system, requiring those on the list to check in periodically based on the level of concern for risk to the public - one level must check in quarterly, one every six months, and one annually.

"On top of that we periodically do a quality control check, just to make sure they all are where they are supposed to be," Simons added. "If they are not, we have to either get them back in compliance, or they will be charges with violating the registry law."

Often, the best tips that there may be a problem come from the public, who have recognized an offender from the registry online.

"We check into every public concern that we get as quickly as we can," Simons explained. "It's not always someone trying to hide - often it's a case of a person who didn't fully understand the rules, and it turns out to be a non-issue. But we do depend on what we hear. I'm not saying violations of the law don't happen, and when they do, we find out about them, through a variety of means."

The department feels confident that at any given time, it knows where nearly all of the convicted residents of the county are at.

In most cases, Iowa's controversial "2,000 foot rule" has been dropped. In the past, sex offenders were barred from living within 2,000 feet of a school, day care, park or library where children would be gathered.

"Now, the 2,000 foot rule is applied only where the court feels it is specifically needed. We only have two or three in this county who cannot live inside the 2,000-foot barrier; most can live anywhere," said Simons.

He finds the change to be a good one. "The problem was, in small towns like we have, it meant there were hardly any places where a person could still live, and if there was no where to live legally, there was more incentive for people to try to hide from us."

While it is not unusual for persons on the offender list in the county to get charged for violating registry rules, the department has not seen a problem with them committing additional sexual offenses, according to Simons.

"I can't sit here and think of a single one that has re-offended."

The offender registry has been a strong step in public protection, he feels.

"It's a big deal. People do use it, and we encourage the to look at it," Simons said.

"It does take a lot of our time to enforce, but the system does seem to work well."

Last session, both houses of the Iowa Legislature passed the Adam Walsh Child Safety & Protection Act on a near-unanimous vote. Some of the highlights include: better tracking of the most dangerous sex offenders; new exclusion zones for child sex offenders; and new work and volunteer restrictions for child sex offenders at places with children.

A new tool has also been added to the offender registry that lets the public track offenders by neighborhood.

Governor Branstad has sought additions to the law that would require residential care facilities to notify their communities and relatives of residents when sex offenders are living in their facilities. The proposed legislation is in response to an incident at a nursing home in Pomeroy where an elderly resident was assaulted by a registered sex offender who also resided there. Sex offenders sometimes are ordered to a care facility as part of a court order, as was the case in the Pomeroy incident. Officials estimated that about 55 registered sex offenders currently live in Iowa care facilities.

Still, according to an Associated Press report recently, Iowa is among 34 states that remain unable to meet the conditions of a 2006 federal law that requires them to take part in a nationwide effort to track sex offenders. Five of them - Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nebraska and Texas - have completely given up on the effort, even though it means forfeiting millions of dollars in federal grants.

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"the existing laws seem to be working well" BECAUSE, without the registry, former offenders had a recidivism rate of only 2-5%.

"Over the 12 years we have seen more and more and more people on that list, and that trend is only going to continue" UHM, doesn't that mean that IT IS NOT WORKING WELL?

Quit wasting taxpayer dollars and being an SS wannabe.

-- Posted by mac122 on Fri, Oct 12, 2012, at 5:21 PM

You are so right mac122! The rates of sex offenses by first time offenders has not changed since the registry went into effect. The overall recidivism rate for registrants is the second lowest of any other group of offenders, second only to that of murderers. It ranges from approximately 2 -- 10%.

Approximately 95% of new sexual crime is committed by those who have no history of sexual offending and are not on a sex offender registry.

Almost all sexual molestation of children is committed by those in their lives--family members, peers, and other trusted adults--not by strangers on a sex offender registry. Over a third of those who sexually abuse children are themselves children.

-- Posted by JillSmith on Fri, Oct 12, 2012, at 7:23 PM

The Registry isn't the reason for low re-offense rates it's what a registrant has to go through while on probation or parole (The GRINDER). Registration is not a benefit to anyone but the Big Brother government. It's a precursor to registering everyone for something/anything in the future. Like McCarty days with their communist registry which had Lucial Ball on it. Maybe they didn't like her brand of humor!

Either the registry will become a joke or blown into something real scary. As it is it's just a list that makes a target for harm of citizens that have paid their debt to society. The NOT punitive angle is BS! Everyone with half a brain knows that!

-- Posted by Rob_Curtis on Fri, Oct 12, 2012, at 8:18 PM

"The offender registry has been a strong step in public protection, he feels.

"It's a big deal. People do use it, and we encourage the to look at it," Simons said."

There is no evidence that the sex offender registry protects.

However, the registry IS a big deal. It is comprehensive, impacts upon a person's life in fundeamental ways, and totally defines a person to the community.

The prohibition on ex-post facto laws IS invoked.

Without a court order explaining why a person must be regulated, there is no legal basis for a person to comply with registry laws.

Police States can't be made out of legislative fiat especially when those police States are created for the intention of public safety.

This is to ensure that the community is not protected from people who are not dangerous.

A conviction, standing alone, without a determination of future dangerousness, is NOT enough to extend a punitive action on an individual.

Anyone who says the registry is civil because we intend it to be doesn't understand that OUTCOMES are the determining factor.

If this doesn't make sense to you on why a court order is required in order to regulate to anywhere near this extent, doesn't understand the concept behind RIGHTS as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

The 5th amendment states the requirement of DUE PROCESS. It does not say, DUE PROCESS for everyone BUT those people. DUE PROCESS is all about FAIRNESS. Without even SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS, you can't have PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS and in the end the State can't show WHY they are regulating an individual to such an extent their mere existence in the community is endangered through formal law and informal policy.

All the State can do is point at a conviction. Does everyone really believe, that without ANY court protections, that will ALWAYS be enough?

Your registry is being laughed at. Sorry about your registry, but you know how to fix it. DO IT!

-- Posted by Rudy100001 on Sat, Oct 13, 2012, at 12:27 AM

ahh I was late to the party, seems all the RSOL/Nambla members got here before me..

Keep a tight collar and short leash on these guys, they are opportunist and will indeed seek any opportunity to turn a families world upside down. The daily Headlines make it a fact.

Tell the "system" if they can pee 90 billion on "green energy" programs? They certainly can spring to keep tabs on those less than desirable examples of DNA that feed off their own.

-- Posted by Valigator on Sat, Oct 13, 2012, at 6:11 PM

The Nambla activists seem to have their statistics skewed. For predatory sexual offenders 2% will NOT offend again, and that is usually due to physical disability or incarceration. Recidivism is sky HIGH for predators, and that is proven. Public support for a sex offender registry is overwhelming, and I for one, want to know what kind of monsters live in a neighborhood where I am looking at new homes. The government needs to monitor these people because apparently they cannot monitor themselves. The only change that needs to be made to the registry is classification...A 16 year old who has sex with his 15 year old girlfriend should not be held to the same standard as a pedophile or rapist. Or, a young guy who is arrested for urinating in public should not be held to the same standard as the guy who keeps a collection of child pornography. Otherwise, the sex offender registry is great! Everybody, in every neighborhood should know what creeps live among them.

-- Posted by Bookwormed on Sun, Oct 14, 2012, at 2:34 PM

I see the trolls aka Valigator and bookWORMed are here. Don't let them fool you, just google Valigator and see for yourself what kind of person she is. The laws are not working at all. Recidivism has been proven low since 1917, long before any registry ever existed. These laws are driven by vengeance rather than reason.

-- Posted by oncefallendotcom on Mon, Oct 15, 2012, at 11:51 AM

The registry was originally designed to provide law information monitorable information on the MOST potentially dangerous offenders. The remainder of persons convicted of a sexual crime returned to society. Recidivism did not spike. A public registry, however, in the hands of anyone with an internet connection, has proven to be a tool of exclusion, of vigilante acts against those on the list and of humiliation and destruction of families of the former offenders. It is the basis for NIMBY laws which directly relate to homelessness and joblessness as well as a variety of other social ills. SHAME ON YOU for priding yourself on such a blunt and dangerous instrument.

-- Posted by VA Hall on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 10:08 AM

Jill Smith - your comment states "Approximately 95% of new sexual crime is committed by those who have no history of sexual offending and are not on a sex offender registry." I believe your statistic should read 100%. If it is a NEW crime, how could there be a previous history?? I would like to know where you obtained your stats.

The Registry is not a tool for punishment. It is a tool of information. The public certainly has the right to know if an offender is living within their community. I challenge you to look the offender list and tell me that you would be happy to have some of those men and women living in your neighborhood with no information available to you. I guarantee that, were you to find out that a convicted sex offender with multiple counts of child molestation was living in your neighborhood, making contact with your children, giving them candy on Halloween, without your knowledge, you would be, at the very least, uncomfortable. You would become watchful, aware, more diligent in your child's movements about the neighborhood. Why not allow the public to have this information from the very beginning.

The Registry gives the public the information necessary to be vigiliant in their own safety. The Registry assures the offenders that someone is watching their movements. To those who state that the offenders have "served their debt to society", I disagree. Part of their debt, as dictated by their Judgment and Sentencing, is to report for the Registry. Their debt is paid when they have completed that requirement.

-- Posted by Practical v hysterical on Thu, Oct 18, 2012, at 10:42 AM

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