Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Child Sex Offenders

Gaining Ground

On June 15, 2007, two announcements about sexual predators were no doubt welcomed by communities but alarming to men who believe they can prey on children without consequences. We've already discussed the recent merging of efforts by MySpace and Sentinel Safe to ensure better protection for children online, and already there have been seven outright arrests as a result.

Greg Abbott
Greg Abbott

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told reporters that six convicted sex offenders were found to have violated parole by posting their profiles on MySpace. All six had been prohibited from using the Internet, and yet they'd ignored the rules. He presented Patrick Blevins as an example of why it's urgent to keep certain offenders from participating in social networking sites that attract kids. Blevins had been arrested for sexual offenses in two different states and had served eight years in prison. Instead of recognizing he had a problem, he was online trying to meet kids. "These predators will stop at nothing to find their next victims," said Abbott.

Patrick Blevins
Patrick Blevins

MySpace had turned over the data, facilitating police efforts. As part of the Cyber Crimes Units efforts throughout Texas of protecting children from online predators, the six men were arrested and their profiles removed. It's the first crackdown in the country, and it's hoped that more states will be reporting similar enforcement.

A seventh offender in Texas was also arrested, according to Computerworld.com, because he'd failed to register, as required by his parole terms, as a sex offender. He's probably not alone. 

John Reid
John Reid

Yet this crackdown is only a short-term solution to a serious long-term problem, which brings us to the second announcement, coming from the UK. Home secretary John Reid offered the results of a study, "Review of the Protection of Children from Sex Offenders," that took into account what other countries have done about these offenders. The report proposes twenty specific measures that will strengthen efforts in Britain to keep the one in five recidivists away from children, including satellite tracking for high-risk offenders, compulsory polygraph tests, broadening the type of information required when offenders register, allowing the public to pro-actively request information about possible sex offenders, and stepping up community awareness campaigns.

In addition, and somewhat controversially, there will be trials to expand the research to determine if libido-suppressing drugs might be effective with a higher percentage of offenders than now take them. These trials would also include the effects of anti-depressants.

While the UK already has some of the strongest post-sentence restrictions on sex offenders, this plan will make those measures even more stringent. Even so, critics insist that true predators who do not wish to stop will find their way around them.

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