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Sex offenders are living in local parks: Here’s why

By ThisIsReno
Deer Park

By Kelsey Penrose

While the majority of states in the U.S. have requirements by law for where sex offenders, especially sex offenders with child victims, can live or congregate, Nevada doesn’t. That has led to a number of convicted sex offenders registering their location as parks or even intersections, some near schools.

“They can register a park, a certain cross street; they can register as ‘I sleep under the Kietzke Bridge,’” said Bob Harmon, public information officer with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s the law. It’s an important point for those who are transient, so that law enforcement can locate them.” 

He said that under Nevada statutes, registered sex offenders must check in every 30 days with where they could be found by law enforcement agencies during a “reasonable time,” such as during the daytime working hours. 

It is legal for transient sex offenders to register their residential addresses at nearly any describable location, and many registered offenders in the community have made use of these statues to register at these public locations or the community shelter where they sleep.

The Nevada Revised Statute can be found under section 179D.151, which states: “If the offender or sex offender has no fixed residence, the address of any dwelling that is providing the offender or sex offender temporary shelter, or any other location where the offender or sex offender habitually sleeps, including, but not limited to, the cross streets, intersection, direction and identifiable landmarks of the city, county, state and zip code of that location.” 

Of the transient registered sex offenders throughout the Reno-Sparks area, many are registered at or near the Record Street Shelter or the overflow shelter. Still others are registered at parks, including Paradise, John Champion, Pickett, Deer and Wingfield parks.

According to the state’s sex offender registry, the crimes of registered offenders who have registered their locations at parks, shelters or intersections include: sexual assault against a child under 16; sexual assault and rape; lewdness with a child under 14; attempted lewdness with a minor; sexual exploitation of a minor; statuary sexual seduction; sexual abuse of a child; and various other related or similar crimes.

Living close to children and schools

What stands out in the registry is that a large majority of these sexual offenders registering at public areas have been convicted of sexual crimes against children, and yet are able to register in areas near schools. For example, those offenders convicted of sexual crimes against children who are registered on Record Street are within 1 to 2 miles of over a dozen public and private schools, ranging from pre-schools to high schools. 

Two separate offenders at two different addresses accused of lewd/lascivious acts with a child under 14 are registered at residences within 0.3 miles of Smithridge Elementary School.

While there are 37 states in the union that restrict where sex offenders can live when it comes to schools, parks and daycares, Nevada is not one of them. There are no laws in Nevada that restrict sex offenders, even sex offenders with child victims, from where they can live or congregate. This makes it legal for criminal sexual offenders to register their addresses at local public parks, despite the fact that it is a location children can and do congregate. 

According to NRS 179D.460, a sex offender who resides in any area for 48 hours or more is considered a resident offender and must register with the local sheriff’s office or police department immediately or risk being taken into custody for violating the terms of registration. 

In Reno, there are currently 979 registered sex offenders, according to the Nevada State Sex Offender Registry. That breaks down to one offender for every 251 residents.

That ratio is higher than for Sparks, which has 249 registered sex offenders (one for every 395 residents), and is bested only by Sun Valley (one for every 226 residents) and Verdi (one for every 169 residents). 

Spanish Springs has the highest ratio, or least amount of registered sex offenders by population, at 8,296 residents to one. 

Registered sex offenders living in the 89509 zip code. Source: Public Sex Offenders Registry.
Some of the hundreds of registered sex offenders living in the Reno area. Source: Public Sex Offenders Registry.

Thousands more unregistered and untracked

What some may find far more concerning than those who are registering their locations at parks and intersections, however, are the nearly 2,500 sex offenders known to be residing in Nevada who are unregistered. 

According to the Nevada Department of Public Safety, as of Feb. 4, 2020, there are 2,433 registered sex offenders being tracked by the state’s Sex Offender Registry who have not complied with the address re-verification process or are known to reside in Nevada and have not registered as a sex offender. 

Another 456 known sex offenders residing in Nevada have failed to register with the department, and 57 known offenders have given false or misleading information regarding their residences or employment. 

Crimes of those offenders not in compliance range from indecent exposure and child pornography to assault of a minor, sexual abuse, lewdness and attempted lewdness with a minor and incest. 

Failing to register as a sex offender in Nevada carries a Category D felony for the first offense, which can range from one to four years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, but the judge may grant probation in lieu of incarceration at their discretion. 

For subsequent failures, it results in a category C felony with one to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, and judges are not allowed discretion when it comes to granting probation. 

As to why there are so many known but unregistered sex offenders listed on the state database, Harmon had no answer, as law dictates they must be registered. 

The Nevada Department of Public Safety Nevada Sex Offender Registry could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts.



Connie Citizo February 14, 2020 - 8:19 am

I don’t really feel sorry for sex offenders because the majority of people who have been abused as a child never go on to abuse others. Sex offenses, like all crimes, are a choice. The more alarming statistic about Reno-Sparks is the low number of law enforcement per capita compared to other places in Nevada. Don’t know if it is because they aren’t budgeting for an adequate amount or if the high cost of housing is making recruiting difficult.

Terrilyn T Martin February 6, 2020 - 6:28 pm

If we can’t house the homeless, how are we to create a community strictly for sex offenders like other states?

Vicki Henry February 5, 2020 - 4:08 pm

Nevada is no different than the other 17 states which ‘chose’ to enact AWA. A mandate from the U.S. Congress without Congressional funding. That is not the most ironic thing. This is. The AWA was NOT based on empirical data from academics and researchers but an emotional reaction to the death of Adam Walsh. This was one of several knee-jerk reactions resulting in sex offender registries and ironically, just as with the Lauren Book sexual abuse in Florida, a registry would not have prevented these yest here we are.

Women Against Registry advocates for the families who have loved ones required to register as sexual offenders.

More about the issue:
According to the NCMEC map there are over 912,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register. The NCMEC has ceased publishing the number of registered citizens as it will soon top 1,000,000. The “crimes” range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bait-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.

If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 3 million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant. Professionals indicate 3 things are needed for successful reintegration; a job, a place to live and a “positive” support system.

The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics – ‘Frightening and High’ (Debunks the 80% recidivism rate cited by now SCOTUS Justice Kennedy)

It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12-page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.
ABSTRACT This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the facts. This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015. (Google: Frightening and High)

A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that:
a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser;
b) 34.2% were family members;
c) 58.7% were acquaintances;
d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers;
e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home;
f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Jill Levenson, PhD, Lynn University)

There is a tremendous need to fund programs like “Stop It Now” that teaches parents how to begin and maintain a dialog with their children to intervene before harm occurs and about grooming behaviors as well as other things at age-appropriate levels in their Circles of Safety.

Our question to the public is one of, when does redemption begin? When are those required to register given their lives back without the stigma and hate?

We support the principles of Restorative/Transformative Justice; restore the victim, restore the offender AND restore the community. unfortunately, our justice systems, federal and some states, prefer to annihilate human beings using mandatory minimum sentences, leaving our families destitute for years or decades and call that justice.

Our country is proud to be ‘the incarceration nation’ with 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated.

Elaine Hoem February 5, 2020 - 5:20 pm

This is a good article, although an alarming one. Of most concern, of course, are all the unregistered sex offenders. Where are they living? If unregistered, no one is monitoring them. This is a huge problem and one not easily solved. Maybe this could be the beginning of a series as we, the public, need to be better educated.
Thank you, Vicki Henry, for your additional information on this subject. I am most interested in your question: “When does redemption begin?” And what does redemption imply? I can see, from your long list of sex offenses, that many of the people with lesser offenses could potentially receive treatment and become functioning members of society – if we had systems in place for such changes to be instituted. On the other hand, from my knowledge as a therapist, we, as a society, have not found effective and lasting treatment for the most serious sexual offenses. Another question: What kind of help and/or treatment are the offenders in the parks receiving?

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