Clearly the title is misleading, but why? Did the reporter even read what the wrote? Employment is a major issues, as highlighted below.
By Kelcie Pegher
When Stephanie Rudisill used a contractor for her home, she was surprised to find out upon later research the man she let into her home was a registered sex offender.
He did not offend Rudisill in any way personally, and her one-year-old son was not harmed in any way, but it was shocking that she did not know about the contractor’s past, and she was surprised employers were not required to tell their clients.
Sex offenders listed on the Maryland sex offender registry are able to perform any job that is not full-time employment in a school or daycare, according to Sgt. Brad Brown at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office has been handling casework for sex offenders since July 2011. Brown said he sees a mixture of white collar and blue collar workers who are previous sex offenders. He said he has those on the sex offender registry work in places ranging from fast food to computer IT.
Following contracting, the food services are most likely to employ sex offenders in Carroll County. The auto industry also has a fair amount, from mechanics, to parts and car sales clerks. Sex offenders must disclose their employment address, which is listed on the registry. Those whose employments had an address in a shopping mall with many stores were listed as “Unable to Identify.”
“It is a bit of hurdle for some employers to get over that conviction of hiring a sex offender,” Brown said. “However, the thing is, if they can do the job and are not a danger to anyone at the business and the public in general, then why not?”
There are 203 registered sex offenders in Carroll County, with the most sexual offenders residing in Westminster zip codes. Westminster has 58 sex offenders, while 35 live in the 21136 zip code, which overlaps between Baltimore and Carroll counties in Reisterstown. Taneytown has 23, and Sykesville has 20 sex offenders who live in the area.
Most sex offenders listed on the sex offender registry are unemployed, according to data collected from the Maryland Sex Offender Registry. The second most popular profession is contracting, whether that be constructing, landscaping, welding or the like.
If a person is convicted of a crime that involves a sex offense, they are added to the registry. Prior to 2010, fourth-degree sex offenses and possession of child pornography did not necessarily mean a person would get onto the sex offender list, said Amy Ocampo, child abuse prosecutor with the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office. The judge had discretion prior to a 2010 law. Now, any sex offense will get a person onto the sex offender registry if convicted, Ocampo said.
“A lot of people think that the registry acts the same as probation; that it’s really meant to restrict what they can and can’t do,” she said. “It’s really more so with public notification.”
Sex offenders, regardless of the age of the victim, may not enter any school for elementary or secondary education, or any daycare facility. However, there are no residency restrictions for sex offenders; they may live near a school or day care facility if they choose, according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety.
Sex offenders are also able to work in a place of higher education, according to Brown.
“This prompts me to call that school to make them aware of that status,” Brown said. “I go ahead and let them know where they can and cannot be.”
Brown gave the example of Carroll County Community College, which has a daycare center in their college. Because of this, it has a blanket policy that does not allow sex offenders on the premise, whether they are going to college or attempting to become employed by the Carroll County Community College. A sex offender would have to go elsewhere in Carroll to receive or be employed by higher education, such as McDaniel College.
According to the sex offender registry, there are no sex offenders currently employed at McDaniel College.
“They have to completely disclose what employers they have, and if that employment takes them to another location,” Ocampo said.
She gave the example of a construction company based in Carroll County but has a lot of jobs in Montgomery County. It’s possible they would have to inform Montgomery County’s police department of their status as well, Ocampo said.
Sex offenders are not required to tell their employers they are sex offenders. The exception to the rule, Ocampo said, is when a worker is contracted to do work in a school or daycare. A sex offender is then required to tell their employer, so the employer is liable.
“They can’t just use the excuse of ‘Oh my boss told me I have to do this job here,’” Ocampo said.
Brown said he calls the employers after a change of employment in order to confirm their hire date, and make sure the employer knows they are employing a sex offender. Those on the registry must let Brown know within three days of their hire date.
“Sometimes I find our registrants are somewhat lackadaisical and could be working there several weeks and then call to let me know,” Brown said.
If a registrant disobeys the sex offender registry requirements, they are guilty of a misdemeanor on first offense, and guilty of a felony on a second offense, according to Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
If an employer were to run a background check on a sex offender, they would see a criminal history and the conviction, but would not specifically list if they are on the sex offender list. Employers will hear from Brown a few days after the hire date to let the employer know anyway.
“I find the majority of people on the registry don’t want to violate any of the registry requirements, and don’t want to violate the law period,” Brown said. “Most of them are compliant just like in society. Most people in society obey most laws.”