According to a recent report by CNN, several thousand sex offenders in the United States are granted passports each year. This information came directly from a document produced by a Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Sex Offenders Can Get Passports
The document showed that nearly 4,500 passports were distributed to registered sex offenders in 2008. This discovery led to a serious question: can sex offenders legally obtain passports? The answer, in most cases, is yes.
Any person who has an outstanding felony warrant may be denied a passport. The same rule applies to people who owe $2,500 or more in child support. Most registered sex offenders, however, do have the right to request and receive passports.
Travelling Sex Offenders: Case Studies
During the study that led to the GAOs report, the circumstances surrounding a group of sex offenders who received passports were examined. It led to some startling revelations.
Several sex offenders who held multiple convictions were allowed to travel to various countries. Some of the offenders had attempted to escape from law enforcement officials when they were discovered. At least one worked for the Post Office. Another was granted his passport while still serving time in prison.
Nearly 50 of the offenders were no longer living in the United States, and many of them were listed as “whereabouts unknown.” It may be disconcerting at best to realize that the government doesn’t even know where certain sexual offenders are currently residing.
Is Anyone Denied?
Prior to 2008 there were almost no laws in place to deny sexual offenders the right to receive a passport. Towards the end of that year, a new law was passed that prohibited offenders with convictions for “sex tourism” from international travel.
Sex tourism is commonly defined as the act of travelling to engage in unlawful sexual activities, generally with prostitutes or people under the age of 18. The fact that this wasn’t a law until 2008 is shocking, but the realization that this law wasn’t acknowledged and enforced until April, 2010 makes it even worse. That’s not the only startling factor; the sex tourism law is only applicable while the offender is either incarcerated or out on parole.
What Do You Think?
For most people, this news is very disturbing. Sex offenders have the right to travel internationally, some are allowed to hold jobs at which they might interact with children, and the whereabouts of a few are completely unknown.
Part of the fear people have for sexual offenders comes from not knowing whom or where they are. Currently, it isn’t possible for people to know whether or not they may be travelling with a registered offender. People can, however, learn more about offenders who live near them and their family. A sex offender search shows you what offenders are living in any neighborhood, tells you how to identify them, and explains the details of their crime.
So what do you think? Should sex offenders be granted passports and allowed to travel? Leave us a comment to share your opinion and thank you for reading the PeopleFinders People Search blog.