Where do most people believe convicted sex offenders should live once they have done their time in prison?
Folks think the best place for sex offenders is anywhere but where they live. Almost nobody wants a convicted sex offender living in their neighborhood, community or, frankly, their state.
For good reason. When sex offenders reoffend, lives are ruined. Exactly how often sex offenders commit another sex crime seems to be debatable. The studies are all over the map, from 12 percent to 88 percent.
Frankly, statistics mean nothing if you or your family fall victim to a sex offender.
So on Wednesday when the Oregonian newspaper concluded the state of Oregon has become a magnete for sex offenders, people in that state took notice. And so, too, did those living in the Walla Walla Valley, less than a dozen miles from the Oregon border.
It’s one thing for a few sex offenders to live in a community or state, but it is far different — and far more disturbing — to learn that the state actually attracts released offenders.
Oregon has one of the worst records in the country for following federal standards intended to keep sex offenders from moving to avoid supervision, which is why the state has become a haven for offenders dodging stricter rules elsewhere, the Oregonian’s investigation has concluded.
The newspaper also discovered:
Oregon is two years behind entering names into its electronic database of registered sex offenders. It’s so out of date that local police don’t rely on it.
Oregon is among four states that have done the least to comply with registration and community notification guidelines under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act passed seven years ago to tighten a patchwork of state laws.
Oregon has 496 registered sex offenders for each 100,000 people, the second highest in the country. The highest proportion in the nation is in Delaware, 537 offenders per 100,000 people.
When sex offenders are seeking refuge in Oregon so they won’t have to comply with restrictions, it sends a clear message they have no intention of following the law or they have some doubt about their ability to stay out of trouble.
The Oregonian found examples of horrors left behind by sex offenders seeking refuge. Sex offender Mark D. Beebot moved from California to Oregon without following the requirement to report where he was living to police. He beat up one woman and killed two others.
Clearly reforms are needed.
It would be unreasonable to Oregon to rid itself of all sex predators, they reality is they have to live somewhere after they are released from custody.
But the Legislature must take action to put Oregon on par with other states in terms of tracking and supervising sex offenders.