Saturday, September 24, 2005

Registered Sex Offenders Among Evacuees Worry Department of Corrections

Registered Sex Offenders Among Evacuees Worry Department of Corrections
The Associated Press

Sep. 10, 2005 - Although nearly 4,500 registered sex offenders lived in the 14 parishes hit by Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Corrections is most worried about fewer than 300 those who ordinarily check in at parole offices closed by the storm.

Department spokeswoman Pam Laborde said that includes 110 in Jefferson Parish, 136 in the two New Orleans offices, and 23 in St. Bernard Parish.

Convicted sex offenders, including prostitutes and video voyeurs, must keep their current addresses on file with state police even if they are not on active probation or parole.

LaBorde said probation and parole officers in the four closed districts were supervising a total of 13,973 people.

The Corrections Department set up a toll-free number 1-800-342-6110 for any evacuee on probation or parole to register their current location.

Some called in earlier, she said, including one who called the state Office of Emergency Preparedness. "He said, `Hey, I don't want to get in trouble. I want you to know I'm at the Astrodome,'" Laborde said.

Laborde said many probation and parole agents who worked in the four closed offices are working for now in other districts, and inmates who live in the three parishes are being released to other districts.

The department is working to get other states to take over supervision of probationers and parolees living with relatives in those states, and to get the word out to shelters about the toll-free reporting number.

Those staying with relatives within Louisiana can report to local parole offices, she said.

Nearly 4,500 registered sex offenders lived in the 14 parishes hit by Hurricane Katrina. They probably left their home parish, and may have left the state in the storm's evacuation.

The seven with the worst damage and the most people displaced by the hurricane and flooding include 3,300 of those offenders, according to the Louisiana State Police sex offender registry.

Florida requires certain registered sex offenders to ride out a hurricane in jail, but Louisiana has no policy in regard to sex offenders during hurricanes or evacuations. That means those registered in the system could end up in shelters or communities across Louisiana and in other states.

"There's no statute in Louisiana to require them to be reincarcerated," Capt. Jerry Patrick of the Louisiana State Police told The News-Star of Monroe.

Shelters and communities that take in evacuees can check people's names against the state or national sex offender registry, and should use available state and national resources if they have concerns, he said.

On the Net:

State police sex offender and child predator site:


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