Thursday, May 8, 2014

WV - Sex offender registry laws vary by state

Morning paper and coffee
Original Article

05/02/2014

By Courtney Khondabi

CHARLESTON - "I got goose bumps,” said Laura Jones.

Laura Jones said it is alarming to learn that sex offenders are living near schools. She said it is even more alarming to learn there is a special group of convicts classified as Sexually Violent Predators.

13 News found 37 listed on the West Virginia Sex Offender Registry and some are living near schools.

We found two in Cabell County. One lives about 530 feet from Cox Landing Elementary school in Lesage.

We found three in Kanawha County. Two are living in shelters just 1050 feet from Sacred Heart Grade School.

"It's horrible, this definitely needs to change," said Jones.

We have learned that all of these 37 worst sex offenders are from out-of-state. 30 are from Ohio and the rest from Pennsylvania, Indiana and Florida.

We wanted to know why and here is what the State Supreme Court tells us:

Prosecutors in West Virginia have the option to recommend cases for special status, but it seems they are not going through the steps.

We also wanted to find out why so many are from Ohio.

According to the Division of Corrections, they may have relatives in West Virginia or they lived in the state at one time.

In addition, West Virginia laws are not as strict about where sex offenders can live.

In Ohio, no convicted sex offender can live within 1,000 feet of a school. Kentucky has a similar law.

In West Virginia there are fewer restrictions, and many are allowed to live wherever they want.

Lt. D.B. Swiger of the West Virginia State Police said they do their best to keep up with where sex offenders are living.

The law requires sexually violent predators to report to state police four times a years and troopers make sure their information is up-to-date every 90 days.

"When we became the caretaker of the sex offender registry there wasn't any extra budgeting planned for that so it’s another task we have taken on that's essentially unfunded, we are going to get our job done no matter what it takes," said Lt. Swiger.

Lt. Swiger encourages parents to use the registry and to keep up with who is living in your neighborhood.

Laura Jones said she will definitely check the registry, now that she knows how many sex offenders live near her family.


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