Friday, June 22, 2012
If you've ever been on the Kansas Bureau of Investigations offender website, you know a quick search will highlight the sex offenders living in your neighborhood. But hundreds more just like them are hidden on a different, private list.
There are 6,415 registered sex offenders in Kansas, and while most of their information like their name and address can be found online, 896 of those registered sex offenders won't show up on any public search.
"I don't think anything like that should ever be private, it should all be public,” Parent Olivia Richardson said.
"It's pretty scary, I would wonder what the reasoning behind that is,” Parent Megan Reeves said.
The easiest way to explain the reasoning is to go back about twenty years and start at the beginning.
In 1993, a law was passed requiring repeat sex offenders to register. At the time the information was for law enforcement's eyes only.
A year later, the law changed. All convicted sex offenders had to register and all their information was public but anyone put on the list before April 14, 1994 was grandfathered in and their information stayed private.
In 2002, juvenile sex offenders were added to the registry. KBI's deputy director tells us that move immediately raised some concerns.
“Legislators started hearing stories about it being over-broad where essentially you had consensual sex between two teenagers and both of them ended up being registered offenders,” Kyle Smith, deputy director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said.
So the power to decide was left up to the courts. The law today states that if an offender is a juvenile and the ictim is 13 or older, the court has three choices: make the person register on the public list, make them register on the restricted list, or don't make them register at all.
"There are occasions where maybe the person is fairly young it seems to be an isolated incident,” Smith said.
Since 1994, the only sex offenders who can be placed on the restricted registry are juveniles. All adults have to sign up and their information is public.