Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

TOP STORY>> Locating sex offenders

IN SHORT: A comprehensive survey of registered criminals reveals how many live in your community and how their numbers compare to the rest of the state.

By Brian Rodriguez
Leader staff writer

Comparing the most re-cent sex offender population of cities in The Leader’s coverage area against the most recent census data shows Jacksonville leads the area in total number of registered sex offenders, but McRae has the most per capita.

Each convicted sex offender undergoes an assessment to determine what level the sex offender will be classified as, and the level determines who should be made aware of the offender’s presence.

“The higher the risk level, the more people in the community who should be notified,” said Sheri Flynn, administrator of the Arkansas Criminal Information Center.

A Level 1 sex offender is considered a low-risk offender, Level 2 is a moderate-risk offender, Level 3 is a high-risk offender, and Level 4 is considered a sexual predator.

Jacksonville has four Level 1 sex offenders, 21 Level 2, 14 Level 3, and five unclassified sex offenders for 44 offenders. The cities with the next highest numbers of sex offenders are Searcy with 32, Cabot with 20, Beebe with 18, and Bald Knob with 17.

While Jacksonville has 12 more registered sex offenders than Searcy and more than double the individual numbers for the next three of the top five, Bald Knob has the most per capita registered sex offenders in The Leader’s coverage area.

With seven sex offenders in a town of only 661 people, McRae has one registered sex offender for every 94 people in the city. Jacksonville, although it has the most registered sex offenders overall, has only one for every 680 people.

The next cities with the next highest overall prevalence are Rose Bud with one for every 143, Bald Knob with one for every 188, Kensett with one for every 256, and Beebe with one for every 274 people.

Sherwood has the lowest prevalence overall with only one sex offender for 2,390 people.

With one Level 2 offender as the only offender in the city, Bradford has the next lowest prevalence with only one for 800 people and Cabot follows with one for every 763 people. Cabot leads the Level 1 population with six, and has seven Level 2 offenders, four Level 3 offenders, and three unclassified sex offenders.

Searcy is the only city with a Level 4 sex offender within city limits, but there is one more Level 4 sex offender in our coverage area who is registered near Cabot.
With 4,831 offenders assessed out of 2,673,400 people in the state, the overall state average is one sex offender per 553 people. Our coverage area, with 184 offenders and 109,195 people, has a slightly lower prevalence with one for each 593 people. A committee appointed by the governor has assigned 405 offenders the Level 1 rating, 993 the Level 2 rating, 2,036 the Level 3 rating, and 39 the Level 4 rating.

Flynn pointed out the number of Level 3 offenders may seem inflated because each offender who misses two appointments is automatically upgraded to Level 3 offender rating.

The cities with the most prevalent sex offenders per level are McRae with one Level 1 offender for every 220 people, Lonoke with one Level 2 for every 390, McRae with one Level 3 for every 220, Searcy with one Level 4 for every 18,928, and Judsonia with one unclassified offender for every 496 people.

The state averages one Level 1 offender for every 6,600 people, one for every 2,692 at Level 2, one for every 1,313 at Level 3, and one for every 68,549 people at Level 4.

Jacksonville has the most Level 2 offenders in our coverage area with 21, the most Level 3 offenders with 14, and is tied with Searcy for the most unclassified offenders at five.

There is a large difference in Level 3 sex offenders in north Pulaski and Lonoke counties who live near a city but not within the city limits.

According to the ACIC web site, Jacksonville has 14 Level 3 offenders living nearby, Sherwood has five, Austin has one, Ward has two, Lonoke has four, and Carlisle has three. Public notification requirements differ for each level sex offender and are based on the population the offender may place in danger.

Notification guidelines for Level 1 sex offenders include law-enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over the area they live in and law- enforcement agencies the offenders are likely to encounter, all adult members of the offender’s household, as well as victims or guardians of the victims.

Notification for Level 2 sex offenders also includes the heads of agencies and organizations in the offender’s target group, state licensing boards and prospective employers, and the heads of families or individuals with members that are of the age and gender of the offender’s target group who are likely to encounter the offender or live in the same neighborhood.

Notification for Level 3 sex offenders also includes any member of the community the offender is likely to encounter. Offender fact sheets are also given out, and along with Level 4 offenders, are listed online at http://www.acic.org. Level 3 and 4 sex offender information can also be found online at http://criminalcheck.com.

Level 4 notification also includes members of the public in the general area where the offender lives, travels and works. Community meetings can be held to inform residents in the area where the offender is likely to be found, and printed material, posters and electronic media can be used to notify and inform the public.