Cities and Towns with the Most Registered Sex Offenders in RI
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The online database states that the offenders have "served the sentence imposed by the court," and that the notification is "not to increase fear in the community. It is the belief of law enforcement that an informed public is a safe public."
With recent arrests ranging from an East Greenwich school bus monitor for possession of child pornography as part of a sting of 11 individuals, to this past weekend's arrest of AAU basketball coach Jason Elliot, GoLocal looked at data by city and town to determine which communities had the highest numbers of registered offenders.
See the Communities with the Most Registered Sex Offenders BELOW
"Almost every sex offender will be released, and back living in our communities," said Day One Executive Director Peg Langhammer. "It's important that they're registered and accounted for, and in touch with probation. This should include both supervision, and treatment." Day One's mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence, and to support and advocate for those affected by it.
Langhammer continued, "The reality however is that most sex offenders are known to the victim. That's not to say that we shouldn't be aware of who's in the community -- what we know is that's not the norm."
In Rhode Island, sex offenders are classified based on their "risk to re-offend", with classifications labeled as Level 1 for "low-risk" offenders, Level 2 for "moderate risk offenders" and Level 3 for "high risk offenders"
Website information about a sex offender is available to the public only if the Sex Offender Board of Review has classified the offender as a Level 3, or as a Level 2 as of January 1, 2006. Per Rhode Island Law information pertaining to Level 1 sex offenders cannot be posted on the website -- and the risk level has been determined based largely on the offender's potential to re-offend.
Federal Law -- and State Compliance
Under the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Rhode Island was required to implement federal SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act) provisions by July of 2011 or lose 10 percent annually in federal Byrne Grant Funds, which are used to finance state and local law enforcement programs.
"The State is currently not in compliance with federal law, as the state must pass legislation to bring Rhode Island into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act. The AG filed legislation last year (and previous years) to bring Rhode Island into compliance, however it failed to get passed. Last year, SORNA legislation passed the House but not the Senate," said Amy Kempe with the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office.
Last year, legislation introduced by Representative Peter Palumbo would have transferred power of the sex offender registry and sex offender website from the Parole Board’s Sex Offender Community Notification Unit to the State Police, the act would also created an offense-based classification the determine on what tier level an offender is, based on the “severity of the offense.”
If approved, the act would have mandated that offenders use the revised web-based and automated notification system that would allow residents to search potential offenders directly from the site and receive e-mail notifications when an offender “commences residence, employment, or school attendance within the state, a specified zip code, or a certain geographic radius.
Pro- and Anti-SORNA Camps
"For the last two years there's been a Senate study commission to take a look at the laws, and see what the best course of action is," said Godin. "I think there's consensus that it's not the best that it could be right now, and that laws right now could be more effective."
"There's a question however as to whether the [SORNA] registry actually helps society," continued Godin. "The Adam Walsh Act would make a registry offense based. Under the the news system, most people would be bumped up in their classifications. Is it really as helpful to the general public if everyone's now lumped at a level 3?"
Godin noted that one of the major issues included the inclusion of juvenile offenders on the SORNA list. "States are starting to look a this, and recognizing it might not be in the public's best interest."
Further, Godin addressed the financial ramifications of compliance. "If you don't implement, they take away Burn Grant money -- so if we don't implement, we can lose $100K to $200K. However, there's a study which showed it would be $1.7M to implement" the SORNA requirements.
Carolyn Medeiros with the Alliance for Safe Communities, however, spoke to what the group believes are advantages of SORNA compliance -- and countered that it would save the state money. "We're actually losing an additional quarter million in funding, on top of the $60K a year by not implementing SORNA."
"The Adam Walsh Act would in fact to take a big burden off of state, municipal, and local governments," said Medeiros. "A national database would take cogs out of the wheels that aren't necessary. They'll be able to catch sex offenders crossing of state lines."
Addressing the opponents of SORNA, Medeiros said, "I get false accusations, the need for second chances. But can we make this the year of the child -- to protect children? We've just had the bus monitor, the convicted sex offender working at Hasbro, the woman pimping out the young girl...they're popping up far too often."
"I know everyone's doing their best, but we can do better. How much does it take for us to say 'enough'?"
Related Slideshow: Rhode Island Communities with the Most Sex Offenders
The State of Rhode Island Parole Board and Sex Offender Community Notification Unit provides a searchable online database of Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders, which are "moderate risk" offender and "high risk" offenders, searchable by city and town, zip code, or offender level. Not all towns in the state have registered sex offenders in the database.
In addition, categories include "whereabouts unknown", "moved out of state", "incarcerated out of state", "deported", and "deceased."
Below are the sex offenders registered on the site as of November 2013, ranked accoring to offenders per capita in each community -- which can change daily. The population numbers are taken from Rhode Island DLT 2011 estimates.
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