By Michele Mandel
Date: May 19, 2003
If you lived in Iowa, you could search online for the pedophiles in your area. Enter your zip code on the search engine, and voila, a list of all the sex offenders in your neighbourhood, with photos and addresses attached.
In the United States, Megan's Laws have made public the names of more than 450,000 convicted sex offenders. Named for Megan Kanka, the seven-year-old raped and murdered by a convicted child molester in 1994, Megan's Laws in 34 states also allow publication of their lists on the Internet.
Seven states and one city have passed "child safety zones" which ban sex offenders from living near or visiting schools, playgrounds and other areas where children congregate.
Some states have gone even further. Similar to our rarely used dangerous offender hearings, 16 states hold civil commitment trials which allow them to lock up violent sex offenders indefinitely.
Some states even force sexual predators to undergo chemical castration.
SEX OFFENDERS PROTECTED
Do we do as much to protect our kids?
Toronto Police Staff-Insp. Gary Ellis complains he can't even demand a DNA sample from a known sex offender who lives in Holly Jones' neighbourhood. Our bureaucracy ties his hands.
This week, residents in Holly's community were shocked to learn that more than 200 pedophiles live in their midst -- but they are not allowed to know who they are or where they live. In Ontario, the country's only sex-offender registry is not open to the public. Named in memory of 11-year-old Christopher Stephenson, who was murdered by a convicted pedophile on statutory release, Christopher's Law requires convicted sex offenders, as of April 2001, to register annually with police and provide their names and current addresses.
But those convicted before the law was enacted are not on the registry at all. And there is another loophole. After five years, sex offenders are eligible for pardons. Once granted -- they're rarely refused -- their names must be removed.
OPP Det. Staff Sgt. Charles Young, manager of Ontario's sex-offender registry (SOR), boasts that 92% of all sex offenders who walk out of prison report to a police station and register. "We have one of the highest compliancy rates in any registry in existence both in North America and in Europe."
As of today in Ontario, there are 4,271 sexual offenders out in the community who are obligated to register. Of those, 3,945 are compliant offenders and 326 non-compliant.
On average, Young says, Ontario convicts 1,600 sexual offenders each year. "It's reality," he says of the frightening number. "The benefit of the Ontario sex-offender registry is that for the first time, now we know where these people go. We know where they reside." Full Story