Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sex offender changes

In between all the usual stuff, I have been working the past few days to get everything in our applications updated to reflect the changes in the Nebraska Sex Offender Registration Act that went into effect on January 1, 2010. Deb Moffitt and her colleagues in the Crime Analysis Unit have been working on this, too. The changes are needed so that our Threshold Alerts, our internal mapping applications, and the Omega Dashboard all work properly.

The previous law, in effect since 1997, established three categories based on a risk assessment developed by psychologists: Level 1 offenders were deemed at low risk to reoffend, Level 2 at moderate risk, and Level 3 at high risk. Who was privy to the Registry information depended on the offender’s risk level. Information on Level 1 offenders was only available to law enforcement, Level 2 information to law enforcement and child-serving organizations, and Level 3 information to the general public.

This has all changed. The risk assessment is no more, and the information on all registered sex offenders is now available to the general public on the State Patrol’s sex offender registry web site. There is, however, a new statutory scheme by which sex offenders are differentiated based on the nature of the offense. Sex offenders who have been convicted of misdemeanor offenses must register for 15 years, felony offenses for 25 years, and those who have committed aggravated offenses are subject to lifetime registration. This new scheme, however, does not translate from the old Level 1-3 risk levels.

Lincoln (and several other cities in Nebraska) had a residency restriction law that relied on the old definitions in state law, and this had to change. The restriction now applies to “sexual predators”—those convicted of aggravated offenses and whose victim was under the age of 18. Since the definitions have changed, the list of who is subject to the residency restriction is considerably different, although there is a lot of overlap, too. It appears that a total of 158 offenders have flip-flopped on their status relative to Lincoln’s residency restriction. Here’s the data on who is subject to the City ordinance:

  • 238 Then

  • 224 Now

  • 86 Then, but not now

  • 72 Now, but not then

  • 152 Both then and now

Under the old law, 238 sex offenders were covered by Lincoln’s residency restriction, which prohibits them from living within 500 feet of a school. Under the new law, there are 224 offenders subject to the restriction. They are not, however, all the same people. There are 86 offenders who were subject to the restriction before January 1, 2010, but who now are no longer restricted. There are 72 offenders who were not previously restricted, but under the new law cannot take up residence within 500 feet of a school.

Since the residency restrictions cannot be enforced retroactively against those who were previously unrestricted, these 72 newbies will only be affected prospectively, as they move to a new address after the effective date of the City ordinance update: January 1, 2010.

There are 546 registered sex offenders in Lincoln. Of those, 118 are incarcerated in State and County correctional institutions, while the remainder are scattered about the City.


Anonymous said...

Watch out for the boogy man

Anonymous said...

Looks like the airport is a safe place to live.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I Googled 'pirate sex offender' and got 'the pirate ship limo'. I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

The rating system is flawed because the justice system is. These ratings don't reflect the true crimes only the convictions. The only witnesses in these cases are also often victims. Many times they just want it to go away and are not active witnesses in testfying. Making the victim testify in open court about sexual acts committed against them, often by friends, family, or aquaintences, revictimizes the victims and gives the perpetrators leverage in plea bargains.
People need to remember that this is a tool. Just because it says misdemeanor doesn't mean you should assume that is was not a serious offense.

Anonymous said...

This almost sounds like an unfunded mandate, imposed by the state on municipalities, because it sure sounds like more work for local LE agencies, and I don't believe any funding came with this added workload.

Anonymous said...

There are 72 offenders who were not previously restricted, but under the new law cannot take up residence within 500 feet of a school.

I know it's not your job to worry about this, but I wonder how many of those 72 are locked into residential leases, or even have mortgages, and currently reside within 500 feet of a school (because it was previously legal). It just seems a bit ex post facto, in some respects.

Meanwhile, those convicted of murdering a child (or multiple children), as long as they weren't convicted of any sexual offense, are able to live across the street from a school, and the public would be blissfully unaware.

Anonymous said...

I think this makes your "then's and now's" a little more clear.


You can fast forward to about 1/2 way through.

Tom Casady said...


You must have missed the next-to-the-last paragraph in the post:

"Since the residency restrictions cannot be enforced retroactively against those who were previously unrestricted, these 72 newbies will only be affected prospectively, as they move to a new address after the effective date of the City ordinance update: January 1, 2010."

Anonymous said...

Got it. It's not a crime for them to continue living within 500 feet of a school, but it would be illegal to move to an apartment just across the hall from where they live now. That really makes sense (you didn't write the law, I'm not pointing the finger at you).

Steve said...

I, for one, don't believe it makes much difference where the sex offenders live. Statistics may say otherwise, but unless the offender is unable to walk, ride a bike, or drive, I'd guess they could go pretty much wherever they want to do their nasty deeds. If they had any brains (big if), they wouldn't do it in their own backyard anyway, they'd go across town where nobody knows them or their vehicle.

On the other hand, I don't much care if we run them all out of town.

Anonymous said...

I have a question....

I work in health care and routinely fill out a form from the department of health and human services to make sure I am of good moral character and have not committed any crimes against children. Will the level 1 offenders now appear on their database? And should all companies such as hospitals have their employees screened again?

Anonymous said...


There are no "Level 1" offenders anymore, as the new law eliminates the classification scheme. All registered sex offenders are now listed on the public sex offender registry web site, regardless of their previous classification.

Just as another example of how the change in the law has impacted the sex offenders, consider this: there are 18 people in Lincoln who were Level 1 sex offenders prior to the new law going into effect, but they are now Lifetime registrants who meet the statutory definition of Sexual Predator. They previously had to register for 10 years, could live anywhere they wanted, and the information from the sex offender registry about them was only available to law enforcement agencies. Now, they must register for life, appear in person at the Sheriff's office every three months for a lengthy verification process, they can't take up residence within 500 ft. of a school, and their information is available to the general public on the sex offender registry site.

Yes, it would probably be a good idea to look over the list for Lincoln if you are a service provider. It might be embarrassing to learn later on that an employee was a registered sex offender, but you didn't know that. That said, sex offenders need jobs, too, and I think you've got to consider on your own whether a particular individual actually represents a realistic threat to your clients.

Anonymous said...

Is Abdalla on the list? He is a teacher of science at Omaha North HS...boogy man?

Daniel Goichman said...

lets get the conversation straight. sex offenders only have a 5.3% chance of re-offending. unless they can show they are in that class they deserve a right to live their life as they feel without govt. limitations. every person deserves a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. the public registry is no different than how people were treated in salem, ma when they had to wear scarlet letters and were called witches. lets stop the madness before it gets out of control and soon everybody is going to be accused of something. privatize the registry. if you did your time. leave that person the hell alone. and cori needs to be cut off after 7yrs for sex offenses. enough laws. let people enjoy their lives again after they completed their punishment. thank you.