Sex Offender Registry Creates Public Safety Crisis

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

June 17, 2005

The campaign for Attorney General is off and running. While the candidates disagree on a number of issues, they do agree that a large number of sex offender address are out of date, and something needs to be done.

"I believe he has been doing this again because my daughter found a spiral notebook [with my nephew's name in it]," explained Linda Pilcher, an acquaintance of Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller.

36,000 boys are believed to be molested by Schwartzmiller, of California. His victims he kept logged in spiral notebooks.

In D.C., a man was arrested for allegedly offering over 11,000 child porn images. A clown suit and masochistic equipment was found in his apartment.

If either of these men are released, these men could move to Virginia, and fall through the cracks.

"About 20 percent of the folks were out of compliance," said Delegate Bob McDonnell, the republican candidate for attorney general. "There are a lot of missing addresses. You can't tell who was a child predator or an adult predator."

Sex offenders could fall through the cracks because the sex offender registry as it stands now is basically based on the honor system. This creates a public safety crisis because 98 percent of sex offenders get out of jail and one in three of them re-offend within the first five years. Both candidates for attorney general have put fixing this problem at the top of their to-do list.

"I asked the crime commission to form a task force and I am the chairman of that task force," said McDonnell. "We got a great group [of law enforcement people, legislators, victims' rights activists, and prosecutors]. I am really encouraged by our first meeting we had and I think we are going to have a number of reforms."

One of these reforms would be a GPS tracking device attached to the ankle of a sex offender. Senator Creigh Deeds, the democratic candidate for attorney general, has proposed this idea as well, with serious punishments if the offender pushes their boundaries.

"If you remove it you are subject to a ten year period of incarceration; if you remove it and you cross state lines, you are subject to a twenty year period of incarceration. The whole point is [that] we don't want people to abscond," said Deeds.

But both candidates do want you to feel safe.

The pricetag for each GPS device is $9,000 per offender. This equals over $100 million, but both candidates feel it will be money well spent.

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