Of course it is, the data is entered by humans who are prone to making mistakes. But, it only shows you where they sleep for a couple hours per night and doesn't prevent crime or really protect anybody, it only opens people up to vigilantism.
By Joce Sterman
ABC2 INVESTIGATORS UNCOVER A FLAW IN HOW THE STATE'S SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY TRACKS INMATES IN CUSTODY. THE MISTAKES WE'VE UNCOVERED SHOW NOT ONLY IS THE STATE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR NOTIFYING WHEN OFFENDERS ARE RELEASED FROM LOCAL JAILS, BUT THAT THE FAILURES TO UPDATE THE REGISTRY PUT PEOPLE AT RISK.
In September people looking for convicted sex offender _____ wouldn't think they’d have to look hard to find him. The Maryland Sex Offender Registry said he was in jail. But ABC2 Investigators discovered the registry you rely on was wrong .
_____ himself helped us confirm the registry was incorrect. During a visit to his house in Glen Burnie, _____ told us, “I’ve been home. I haven't been locked up."
_____ had been living at home since records show he was released from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center on May 21. But that jail is exactly where the Maryland Sex Offender Registry said he was still living three and a half months later.
_____ is one of many sex offenders found on the streets and undetected on the registry. The news was disappointing to Anne Arundel’s Pat Parrish. She says she checks the state registry twice a week, looking for potential offenders in her neighborhood.
The retiree is so familiar with the registry that over the summer she used it to identify and turn in a sex offender she saw taking a boy into the woods by her home. As Parrish scrolls through the pictures, she says she only takes comfort when she spots one word next to an offender: incarcerated.
"That person is in jail, so we don't have to worry about them," Parrish said.
But ABC2 Investigators found reason to worry, finding dozens of sex offenders whose registry pages were wrong about where they lived. Some of the offenders were listed as behind bars although they had actually been out of jail for weeks or months.
_____ is one example. He was convicted of a third-degree sex offense and was listed as living at the Prince George’s County Detention Center. But multiple records show he was actually free.
The profile for _____ was also incorrect. _____ a convicted rapist who will be on the registry for life, was listed in the Baltimore County Detention Center as of early September. But we found he’d been on the street since his release in July.
_____ is a lost inmate who still hasn't been found. The registry shows there’s now a warrant for his arrest. He’s been labeled as an absconder.
We took our findings from cases like _____ and _____ to Lisae Jordan, the Executive Director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
- So why them and not the police?
“With the registry, the errors you've uncovered here, we're grateful that you found them because that's really a problem," Jordan said.
It’s a systematic problem ABC2 News discovered by putting a sampling of Maryland's 1,500 incarcerated offenders through various government databases. The state's registry may have listed them as being in jail, but we used the Maryland Inmate Locator, Maryland Judiciary Case Search, the victim notification service VINE and even individual phone calls to detention centers to determine offenders we believed were no longer in custody were in fact out on the street.
"When we tell the public here's information about where these sex offenders are, that information should be correct and it's really appalling that it's not," Jordan said.
Russell Butler, the Executive Director of the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, says he was disturbed by our findings. He believes the failure to give victims, and the public, current and correct information about offenders could put people at risk.
“If this is a person who has harmed you, they may want retribution," he said. "They may want to re-victimize you, so you need to know they are out on the street."
Jordan also expressed confusion as to why it was so difficult to keep track of offenders, telling ABC2, "I don't understand why this is happening. These are people who are in state custody. We should know where they are."
In the sample group we supplied to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, 20 percent of the inmates we found were actually on the street had been in state facilities, so there should have been little problem updating the registry.