Convicted sex offenders who have been released from custody are required to register with the police. You can see if the most dangerous of those have moved into your area at the Arizona Department of Public Safety's Sex Offender Info Center.
Why does DPS Do This?
In June of 1996 Arizona adopted its version of "Megan's Law" which includes a community notification process when a sex offender is released from jail or prison, or when they are on probation. By placing this information on the Internet, everyone can now have access to the information and can assist in keeping the information current. Maricopa County has been recognized by The Center For Sex Offender Management as one of sixteen areas of the country that has implemented unique resources for sex offender management.
What is Megan's Law?
Megan Kanka was 7 years old when a twice-convicted sex offender, living across the street, brutally raped and murdered her. The crime occurred in New Jersey. In 1994 Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed "Megan's Law" requiring convicted sex offenders to register with local police. The law further establishes a system of notification to the public. President Clinton signed the law in May 1996.
In 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. This act included Dru’s Law, which, among other things, changed the name of the National Sex Offender Public Registry to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website.
Who is On the Arizona List?
Arizona's Department of Public Safety knows that there are about 14,500 sex offenders in the State of Arizona (2012).
Registered sex offenders from other states must register in Arizona only if they will be in Arizona for more than 10 days, even if they are just visiting. Transients must also register, and are designated as "homeless." There is a limit to how many sex offenders on probation can reside in any one multi-family dwelling to prevent clustering. Arizona law stipulates that Level 3 sex offenders may not reside within 1,000 feet of a school or a day care center (certain exemptions apply).
How Is the Risk Established and What do the Levels Mean?
There are 19 criteria used to assess the likelihood that a convicted sex offender will commit such a crime again. Point values are assessed for the 19 risk factors, and the total points derived for an individual determine whether he/she will be assigned a Level 1, 2 or 3 rating. Level 1 represents low risk, Level 2 represents intermediate risk, and Level 3 represents high risk.
Who Gets Notified When a Convicted Sex Offender is Released?
- Level 1 Offenders: Law enforcement agencies
- Level 2 Offenders: Registered community organizations involved with children and staff members at those facilities who deal directly with children or victims.
- Level 3 Offenders: Same as Level 2, above. Additionally, neighbors of the offender are notified.
Information about Level 2 and Level 3 offenders are also available online as mentioned at the beginning of this article. Information on Level 1 offenders is not available to the public.
What Does This List Mean to Me and My Family?
Generally, it means that your family should understand who sex offenders are, that they are living nearby and that members of your family should exercise basic safety precautions. Knowing that sex offenders live in the area does not, however, give anyone the right to harass them, vandalize their property, threaten them or commit any other criminal act against them. People who do so will be arrested and prosecuted. Talk to your children about strangers. Find out what their school teaches about safety.
Is This Fair to Sex Offenders?
Not everyone agrees that people convicted of sexual offenses should, in essence, be punished forever by having their names, photos and other pertinent information furnished to the community-at-large when they have paid their debt to society as defined by a court of law.
Over several years I conducted a poll of About.com readers. I received thousands of responses. Of those responding,
- 33% belived that sex offenders are special menaces to society and that that their status as a convicted sex offender should be public information.
- 13% believed that only the people convicted of violent rape or crimes against children should be on a public list.
- 39% believed that their names should not in a public database if they served their time and, therefore, their debt to society
- 13% believed that their names should not in a public database unless other violent criminals are treated the same way.
Do Other States Do This?
Yes, they do. To see the registry information for other states go to the National Sex Offender Public Registry. States do not all have the same statutes or procedures, so check with each state individually.
Where can I see Arizona's Official Statutes about Sex Offenders?
Here are the links to the relevant Arizona statutes.