Are Rules For Sex Offenders Strong Enough?

April 14th, 2010

John Albert Gardner IIIWe’ve all heard the recent stories about sexual offenders who commit new crimes after spending time in prison. These unsettling reports create an uproar from citizens who are increasingly concerned for their own safety. The public may soon demand a re-examination of laws that are supposed to protect society from violent sexual offenders.

In 2000, John Albert Gardner III was convicted of incarcerating and molesting a 13-year-old girl. He was sentenced to six years in prison and set free after five. Gardner was placed on parole for three years, but he was allowed to live in close proximity to a school in southern California. By 2008 he was no longer required to check in with a parole officer. It was not the last time the police would deal with John Gardner.

Chelsea King, a 17-year-old High School student, left her San Diego County home for a jog on February 25, 2010. She never returned home. An intense search for Chelsea ended with the heartbreaking discovery of her body buried in a shallow grave at Rancho Bernardo Community Park. John Albert Gardner III was already in custody under suspicion of kidnapping the young girl, and he was quickly linked to her grisly murder.

14-year-old Amber Dubois had been missing from her Escondido home since February 13, 2009. Her parents remained hopeful for more than a year, but in March 2010, her remains were found in San Diego County. Gardner has since been tied to this case, and is expected to stand trial for her death.

John Albert Gardner III is not the only registered sex offender accused of striking again after spending time in prison. Phillip Garrido is a known offender who kidnapped Jaycee Dugard and held her hostage for 18 years. This happened while Garrido was still on parole.

These stories lead to the question: how can this happen? Why are violent sexual offenders allowed so much freedom that they are able to commit such atrocious crimes? People across the country are demanding a major reform on policies that involve sexual offenders.

Several states already support legislation known as residency restrictions. This is a law that forbids sexual offenders from living within a specified distance of any school or other location where children regularly congregate. California is the latest state to consider this policy, but the debate about whether it will help or hurt the general public rages on.

This important topic has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. The Justices recently heard an argument for establishing Civil Commitment on a Federal level, which would make it legal for every state to place sexual offenders in mental hospitals after they served a prison sentence. If this passes, offenders could be held indefinitely, as long as the purpose was rehabilitation, not punishment.

Following the death of Chelsea King, a new law has been proposed. Chelsea’s Law hopes to institute a one-strike only policy against violent sexual offenders. If it passes, anyone who is found guilty of committing a sexual crime that also involves kidnapping and/or torturing a minor may be eligible for a life sentence without parole. Offenders who utilize drugs or other methods to subdue their victims would receive a minimum of 25 years behind bars. The current minimum is 15 years.

Chelsea’s Law would mandate that any sexual offender whose victim is under 14-years-old be forced to be check in with parole officers for the rest of their lives, and wear a GPS tracking monitor at all times. The law also suggests that sexual offenders be banned from parks and other public locations unless they receive permission from their probation officer.

Everyone wants to feel safe. With high-profile cases like John Albert Gardner III and Phillip Garrido, many people are wondering if their families really are secure. There are many strong opinions about what should be done with sexual offenders. No one wants to see more stories like the tragic cases that have been all over the news recently.

Laws for sexual offenders may be updated soon. Until then, education and personal safety are among the best tools for every family. That’s why PeopleFinders is proud to offer a Free Sex Offender Alert Program. Use it to learn about sexual offenders who live near your home, child’s school or any other location. If you need more information, you can also try a Sex Offender Search which allows you to look up offenders by name, city or zip code.

What do you think? Should the restrictions against sex offenders be tougher? Should offenders be subjected to regulations such as Residency Restrictions, Civil Commitment and Chelsea’s Law? Leave a comment to share your thoughts, and thank you for reading the PeopleFinders People Search blog.

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