AZ RSOL speaks out about SO registration at college campuses

Those in favor of such requirements say they are important for public safety. But registered offenders and their advocates say these requirements are often counterproductive and affect offenders’ ability to get a second chance, especially in university settings.

In February 2018, an ASU spokesperson identified 10 registered sex offenders who have been ASU employees or students in the past five years. Three of those individuals are current ASU employees.

Sex offender registration requirements are designed to help law enforcement in sex crime investigations, and community notification requirements are designed to provide community members information about convicted sex offenders near them, according to the Center for Sex Offender Management.

Whether law enforcement is required to notify the community about where a registered sex offender lives, works or studies depends on the nature of their offense.

Level one offenders typically do not require community notification, whereas level two and three offenders are subject to notification requirements, according to an ASU spokesperson. Generally speaking, level one offenders are determined to pose a low risk of reoffending or threatening the community.

ASU’s policies regarding registered sex offenders on campus are governed by state laws that require the ASU Police Department to notify the community about students or employees who are subject to notification requirements.

Depending on the level of the offense, notification requirements may involve posting flyers or information on ASU’s website.

“The university complies with state law, as must the registered sex offender,” an ASU spokesperson wrote in a statement.

If the registered offender is not prohibited from living with minors, he or she could apply to live on campus, and ASU PD would post flyers in the residential hall where the offender was living, an ASU spokesperson wrote.

In the past five years, none of the registered sex offenders who were students or employees at ASU lived on campus.

Studies show that fear is a major factor in the way people think about policies concerning sex offenders. A 2007 study by Jill Levenson indicated that 73 percent of respondents would partially or completely support strategies including community notification, housing restrictions, electronic monitoring, treatment in prison and chemical castration even if there was no scientific evidence that those strategies reduce sexual abuse.

Patricia and Terry Borden are co-directors of the advocacy group Arizonans for Rational Sex Offense Laws, an affiliate of the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws.

The Bordens said their organization is dedicated to creating what they call “fact-based sex offense laws” that promote public safety while honoring human dignity.

They said that registry laws can make it difficult for a person to get back on their feet after serving time for a sex offense.

“A lot of those who register as sex offenders, they are not sex offenders — they are people who have committed sex offenses and are trying to get on with their lives,” Patricia said.

They said social ostracization was one of the key negative effects of the registry on former offenders.

“It pretty much shuts a person down from being successful in college to have to be on the registry,” Terry said.

Studies show that registration and community notification requirements can negatively affect registered offenders through loss of jobs, threats and harassment, property damage and, in a few cases, physical assault.

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