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Law change alone won’t keep kids safe from predators


Sex offenders live across Oregon — online, they all live in one place, managed by Oregon State Police.

Law enforcement has access to information on our state’s nearly 27,000 registered sex offenders. You have access to less than 4 percent.

But that’s changing.

“There will be a larger number of offenders posted to the Website,” said Sex Offender Registration Unit Manager Jeff Clabaugh said.

Legislators passed a new law last summer, overhauling both how sex offenders are classified and how their information is shared.

But it’s not changing overnight.

“It will clarify things so there’s not so much confusion in regard to why somebody could be the highest level of potentially reoffending and why they wouldn’t be on the Website, because they all will be,” Clabaugh said.

By 2017, all sex offenders will be registered in one slot of a three-tiered system. Inmates released after January are already going through the new process.

The least violent offenders will register as Level 1 and will have an easier and quicker path off registration.

On the other end of the spectrum, the most violent and high-risk offenders will be classified at Level 3.

“Most of those offenders that have predatory designations will be Level 3 offenders,” Clabaugh said.

And in a big change, you’ll also have online access to more sex offenders’ photos, addresses and descriptions of crimes. Under the old law, sex offenders had to meet several criteria to be on the database, and that kept many predators off the public lists.

“It doesn’t matter what their supervision status is, what kind of notification was made — if they’re a Level 3, we post them to the public Website,” Clabaugh said.

While Clabaugh said the new law is designed to keep a tighter rein on predatory sex offenders, he also warns people not to rely on a public database for their safety.

“The rates for reoffending for sex offenders tend to be lower than many other crime categories,” Clabaugh said.

A report published by the U.S. Department of Justice shows sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of all crime categories, saying about 5 percent of sex offenders tracked upon release from prison were re-arrested for sex crimes.

“It’s the individuals that have not been apprehended, arrested, convicted and placed in the registry that we need to be concerned about,” Clabaugh said.

Deschutes County Parole and Probation Officer Pat Rursch said teaching our children about “stranger danger” is important, but not the bottom line.

“The biggest misconception is that the person that you need to be worried about is the stranger that’s going to snatch your kid from the bus stop,” Rursch said. “Most of the time, it’s somebody that we know, somebody that our child knows, somebody that’s involved in our child’s life.”

Rursch said the most important step to protect your children starts with communication.

“We need to talk to our kids,” Rursch said. “Our kids need to feel comfortable coming to us and saying, ‘I don’t feel good when I’m with this person.’ And we need to trust our kids, and also trust ourselves.”

Information on a limited number of sex offenders is available at Oregon State Police’s Sex Offender Inquiry System at

You can also find more information and tips at the Department of Justice’s Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website:

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