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Arkansas has about 15,800 registered sex offenders -- 526 offenders for every 100,000 residents -- the second-highest total in the country based on population, recent national research shows.

The manager of the state's sex-offender registry says the numbers are misleading.

"It's not like we have 16,000 sex offenders roaming loose around Arkansas," said Paula Stitz. "It's more like 9,000."

Arkansas' rank behind only Oregon was based on analysis conducted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a nonprofit clearinghouse that focuses on the prevention of child victimization and recovery for victims. Center researchers evaluated the sex-offender registries of each state and compared those tallies with state-level population numbers kept by the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings were published May 30.

Oregon had 28,119 sex offenders, or 679 offenders per 100,000 people, according to the analysis. Indiana had the lowest rate of offenders at 149 per 100,000 people.

The national average rate is 291 sex offenders for every 100,000 residents when counting all 50 states and Washington, D.C., the data show.

Using Stitz's estimate, Arkansas' rate would be roughly 302 sex offenders for every 100,000 residents, much closer to the national average.

As of Aug. 1, there are 16,049 people registered in Arkansas' sex-offender database, Stitz said. Of those, more than 3,100 are incarcerated, about 3,400 are now outside the state, and 176 offenders have been deported, she said.

Stitz also said Arkansas does a better job than most states in keeping tabs on registered offenders' addresses. Only 224 registrants did not have addresses listed in the database, as of August.

Local officials also began working with the U.S. Marshals Service this year to track down offenders who lack current addresses, Stitz said.

In Arkansas, anyone convicted of certain felony sex offenses -- such as rape, indecent exposure, stalking and child molestation -- must register in an open database posted on the Arkansas Crime Information Center's website. Detailed information, including the block where the offender lives and driver's license numbers, is public. Offender information can be found using name or address searches.

Arkansas requires more serious sex offenders to register for life. Certain offenders can apply for relief from registering after 15 years of good behavior. Minors also are shielded from registering in certain cases.

Staca Shehan, executive director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said that knowing more about sex offenders gives families, schools, nonprofits -- communities in general -- a chance "to come up with appropriate safety plans."

Shehan said the center endorses the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which sets standards for sex-offender registration and notification in the U.S.

Arkansas falls short of some standards; only 18 states fully comply with the act.

For instance, Arkansas doesn't collect enough information about the parole status of an offender and includes in its database only those convicted of a sexual offense after August 1997.

State laws say that "sex offenders pose a high risk of reoffending after release from custody" and "the privacy interest of persons adjudicated guilty of sex offenses is less important than the government's interest in public safety."

Yet, research shows that sex offenders do not have increased recidivism rates.

For example, the U.S. Department of Justice tracked the repeat-offense rate of all male sex offenders released in 15 states for three years. Only 5 percent of those offenders were arrested for committing another sex crime, the 2003 study found. Other studies conducted by a handful of states yielded similar results: Between 3.5 percent and 4 percent of sex offenders were arrested for committing additional sex offenses after their release from prison.

That's why Carla Swanson says she's petitioned lawmakers for years to scale back restrictions on sex offenders. As a mother of one, she said the cause is personal.

Swanson heads Arkansas Time After Time, a legislative advocacy group formed in 2010 that aims to "make communities safer" by differentiating between "truly dangerous repeat violent sexual predators and those who at some time in their past committed a sex-related offense, served their sentence, completed or are currently undergoing treatment, and are working hard to reintegrate into society."

Swanson wants to limit access to the registry, so it can be used only by law enforcement agencies. She also wants restrictions on where offenders can live, such as proximity to schools, to be lifted. No legislators have agreed to sponsor such a bill, she said.

"You have to be aware of your surroundings," Swanson said. "There's not a law that's going to protect your child. You have to know what your kids are doing... The current laws make life harder for sex offenders than it needs to be."

A map showing sec offenders by state.

SundayMonday on 09/16/2018

Print Headline: 15,800 names on Arkansas sex-offender rolls


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Archived Comments

  • Knuckleball1
    September 16, 2018 at 8:59 a.m.

    I know of a case a few years ago where a National Background Check was done on a person and it came back clean. However: the person was listed on the County Website as a Child Molester. It seems the County had not done it's job and put in the State Data Base so that this person would be on the National Data Base. There are more out there because the Counties and Citites are not doing their job.

  • BuzzDog
    September 16, 2018 at 11:13 a.m.

    Even if you fully agree with what the article states - that the registry does little to reduce recidivism and the cost-benefit to the taxpayers is nil - I can’t imagine any lawmaker supporting a bill to lighten the current reporting requirements. That would be suicide to one’s, as the lawmaker would forever be labeled as being “soft on crime.”

    That being said, I find it curious that citizens can’t easily find the locations of murderers, thieves and those convicted of animal cruelty, yet I can find complete information on a neighbor’s college-age son who sexted nude photos of himself while he was a senior in high school. Unfortunately, he sent them after receiving similar photos from a 15-year-old sophomore. Now, if any of my neighbors - who lived here long before the sexting conviction - choose to sell their houses, they’re required to disclose that a registered sex offender lives nearby. I don’t know the answer, but I do know I don’t feel any safer by getting postcard twice a year that tell me this kid is in the registry for a charge of online porn.

  • MaxCady
    September 16, 2018 at 12:10 p.m.

    Only 9,000??!! Oh, that makes me feel better!! What is wrong with people in Arkansas??!!

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    September 16, 2018 at 12:38 p.m.

    Could it possibly be because there is no such thing as a male sex VICTIM in ARKANSAS?


  • RBear
    September 16, 2018 at 4:23 p.m.

    Just to let everyone know, our good female troll in here believes all the pedo sex offenders in the state are gay as she stated yesterday. She completely ignores the fact that the VAST majority of pedo sex offenders who have appeared in articles in this poster were between opposite sex situations. To date, I have counted only TWO same sex crimes posted in the D-G since the beginning of the year, yet we see almost on a weekly basis opposite sex crimes in articles here.
    It just proves how crazy that woman really is. Aside from her living in a bunker since the Cold War, she seems to be a VERY sick individual.

  • Skeptic1
    September 16, 2018 at 5:57 p.m.

    I will be impressed when the legislature passes a law that any time sex abuse is raised in family court it has to be referred to the prosecutor's office. I sadly have knowledge of at least four family law and DHS cases where sexual abuse was alleged, was credible, and the judges sent kids to live with their abusers claiming the mother made it up. If the next door neighbor made the same allegation the man would be arrested straight away then investigated. If you molest your own children and you claim your wife/their mother is making it up to get custody you'll at the very least get visitation with your victim.

  • yellowroselady
    September 17, 2018 at 6:45 a.m.

    part 2

    If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 3 million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant....all these things occur when these people try to hold their family together and provide the three things that professionals indicate are needed for successful reintegration; a job, a place to live and a “positive” support system.

    The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics – ‘Frightening and High’ (Debunks the 80% recidivism rate cited by now SCOTUS Justice Kennedy)

    It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12 page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.
    ABSTRACT This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the facts. This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015. Google: Frightening and High

    A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that:
    a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser;
    b) 34.2% were family members;
    c) 58.7% were acquaintances;
    d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers;
    e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home;
    f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Jill Levenson, PhD, Lynn University)

    There is a tremendous need to fund programs like "Stop It Now" that teaches about grooming behaviors and other things at age-appropriate levels in their Circles of Safety.

  • yellowroselady
    September 17, 2018 at 6:45 a.m.

    Women Against Registry advocates for the families who have loved ones on the sex offender registry.

    According to the NCMEC map there are over 904,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the "crimes" range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bait-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.

  • mrcharles
    September 17, 2018 at 9:37 a.m.

    And they tell me DT carried this state.

    rbear is right, the hetro's being created 2 different ways have the advantage of not being gay. Therefore hetro abuse is normal, unlike gay abuse which is abnormal. Yet the quandary is , if the deity created all , you know that old song about jesus loves all the children, white, christian and Israelite's [ even the millions who die each year suffering] , WTF?

  • GeneralMac
    September 17, 2018 at 10:57 a.m.

    MrCoward ( aka Mr Charles).........ever hear of " love the sinner, hate the sin" ?

    Jesus gave us FREE WILL and if some want to use their FREE WILL in a perverted way, they will not be stopped in this life.