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Thousands of sexual offenders keep court system tied up

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Updated: 11/06/2013 10:33 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- State legislators have been cracking down on sex offenders living in Nevada but nobody expected the backlash.

Legal challenges are leaving some laws pending for years and changes that will cause the amount of most dangerous offenders to explode.

Perhaps viewers remember Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old boy who was abducted and decapitated in Florida in 1981.

A quarter of a century later police point the finger at his convicted pedophile. The federal government has since passed new laws in Adam Walsh's name.

States like Nevada have complied with the Adam Walsh Act by re-tiering sex offenders based strictly on their offense instead of a scoring system that's more subjective, which has some people upset.

“Let’s say you're a 17-year-old that had sexual relations with 15-year-old girl friended. You will be treated the same as someone that went and kidnapped a child, took him or her out in the desert and sexually assaulted them,” said criminal defense attorney Robert Draskovich. “The laws don't make any sense.”

Draskovich is a criminal defense attorney who disagrees with the statutes passed unanimously by Nevada legislators in 2007. He thinks it was about money.

“The state of Nevada moved because it would get federal dollars to conform our statutes to the federal statutes,” Draskovich said.

Legal challenges have put the state laws on hold until now. Offenders expect new tiering to begin within six months, which means more names will be added to the sex offender registry.

“The amount of Tier 3 offenders is basically going to quadruple,” said Parole and Probation Sgt. Brian Zana. “Whatever we have now multiply it by four and that's what we're dealing.”

Tier 3 offenders have restrictions about how close they can live to parks, schools and bus stops. However after many legal challenges, it appears as if law enforcement won't apply it retroactively. This mean that if a tier 1offender becomes a Tier 3 when the laws change, they will not have to re-locate.

“We want to make sure the public is safe but we also want to make sure that we're fair to the sex offenders,” Zana said. “Yes they're sex offenders, but they're still citizens of the state of Nevada.”

This isn't the only sex offender law clogging up the courts. There's also the question of lifetime supervision which went into effect in 1995.

“It's also a violation of the double jeopardy clause of both Nevada and the U.S. Constitution,” Draskovch said. “Lifetime supervision is a punishment.”

It was designed for people like Jeffrey Bates. It's extra supervision for those who violated one of the 25 most egregious sex offenses.

However, if they arrest these men and women on a supervision technicality, they often get out within 48 hours. To hold them, the district attorney’s office would have to file a new charge and then creating another burden on an already overworked system.

Even if they file, punishment can take a year which is time offenders use to remain on the streets knowing they tricked the system.

“My officers arrested them for a reason. They may been, as the DA's office puts it, been just be technical violations but technical violations are dynamic risks that put them back in the cycle to re-offend,” Zana said.

Zana wants to re-write the existing law essentially replacing lifetime supervision with extended parole and probation. .Instead of struggling file a new charge, officers would write a report and schedule a hearing and save time and money.
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