NOTE: I use the term “convicted sex offender” for any individual who has been convicted of, plead to, or in some other way has been legally determined to be a sex offender through the legal system. There is another category of sex crimes perpetrators who are termed "sexual predators." A sexual predator is a person who has been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, committing a violent sexually oriented offense and who is likely in the future to commit additional sexually oriented offenses. I do not make a distinction between the two classifications in this piece.
Since the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Lunsford I've been really irritated over the number of convicted sex offenders running loose, and the foolishly ineffective system for keeping up with them after they are released. What is more serious is that some of the miscreants are ever released. Who can reasonably argue that John Evander Couey, who is likely the murderer of Jessica Lunsford, should have been released into the public, even if he had cooperated in the registration and tracking program set up for convicted sex offenders.
Just now on Fox News was a report that a body has been found near the home of 13-year-old Sarah Michelle Lunde, also in Florida. The body is possibly that of Sarah, and it is quite possible that she, too, was killed by a convicted sex offender.
Having heard in a television news report that there are some 30,000 convicted sex offenders in Florida alone, that several of them lived within a few miles of Jessica Lunsford, and wondering how many live around my home, I began looking into our area. There are 267 convicted sex offenders living in the 7-county area around my home. How many of them are sexual predators, I don’t know.
I live in a mostly rural area of southwest Virginia on the border with West Virginia. Our towns and cities are small. The largest is around 12,000. Most are in the less than 7,000 range.
The breakdown of sex offenders by county is below. Virginia's sex offender site doesn't tell you the race and gender of the criminal without going into each individual's file, but West Virginia's, which has more than 1,700 registered sex offenders, does provide that in the chart. Only violent sex offenders are listed in the Virginia registry. Mostly, these people are white males, but black males are second and white females are third. No black females in the four W. Va. counties.
Bland County - 31
Giles County - 13
Tazewell County - 48
McDowell County - 25: 2 white females; 2 black males
Mercer County - 61: 4 white females; 5 black males
Monroe County - 11, all white males
Raleigh County - 78, one wanted: 1 white female, 9 black males
This is, to put it mildly, damned scary.
According to data from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, there are 381,967 entries for sex offenders in the NCIC Sex Offender Registration File — though not all states require sex offenders to be registered in the same way and some offenders are entered into the database for more than one state.
There aren’t accurate numbers about the rate of recidivism among child molesters, since many of their repeat offenses go unreported. Not only are they almost certain to continue sexually abusing children, but some eventually kill their young victims — more often than not for the purpose of keeping them quiet. Usually it’s to cover up the crime so the victim can't identify him.
As a nation, we’ve simply got to do better in protecting people from known criminals of all descriptions. This is a matter for each state to handle, but it is a national problem.
If you want to check up on your neighborhood or town, go here for the FBI’s listing of State Sex Offender Registry Web Sites.