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Sex offender website keeps community on watch

By Tiffany Young and Tanya Rivera

With over 2,500 convicted sex offenders in the state of Hawaii, people in the community should be aware. Students at UH Manoa are more cautious after some recent incidences involving sexual assault. Sex offender registration and community notification laws are the product of and reaction to a series of apparently sexually motivated killings and assaults in the 1980s and 90s.

Perhaps the most famous of these cases is July 1994 rape and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka. A twice-convicted sex offender living across the street from Megan’s New Jersey home eventually confessed to the crimes. The most famous of the Federal sex offender laws, the so-called “Megan’s Law” legislation of 1996, required states to disclose information about registered sex offenders.

Hawaii’s sex offender legislation was passed in 1997. Under this statute, a person who meets any of several criteria must register for life, even if he or she leaves Hawaii or moves here from another state. In 2005, Gov. Linda Lingle signed a law that required information about convicted sex offenders to be made available to the public on a website run by the attorney general’s Office. People can type in their zip code and find a list of sex offenders, along with a picture and information about where the sex offender lives and works.

In 2009, there will be more information included in the site, such as the offender’s birthdate, additional physical descriptions, and more information about the convictions. The Sex Offender Registry Website is a good way for students and the community to get involved and be proactive with their safety and well being. Knowing where you are and what is around you is the first step to ensuring your safety. “I’m not too worried. I carry a knife,” says UH student Brittany Beswick.

General tips on safety include: Knowing your whereabouts and avoid walking alone, especially at night. “We try to screen the UH staff to make sure there are no sex offenders but as for off campus we really can’t monitor them so much,” says Campus Security Chief Neal Sakamoto. The largest proportion of registered sex offenders are between the ages of 40 and 49. About 60 percent are from Hawaii; the remaining are from the mainland and most foreign-born offenders were from the Philippines.

Given that several thousand offenders have yet to be researched in order to determine if they qualify for registration, it should be noted that reports and websites cannot provide a truly complete profile of Hawaii’s registered sex offenders. Campus security is aware of the Sex Offender Registry site and has put a link to it on their own website. They are making sure that student safety is their number one priority and encourage students to be informed about their surroundings. In the event that a student becomes the victim of sexual assault, there are many resources and counselors ready to help at UH Manoa at the counseling center in the Queen Liliuokalani Center for Student Services (QLCSS).

 

Hawaii Sex Offender Registry

Campus Security

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