Ray is one lawmaker who closely watches sex offenders and even believes those convicted of aggravated sexual abuse of a child or rape of a child should get the death penalty.
He's considering legislation to that end pending the outcome of a Louisiana case that was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Louisiana law allows capital punishment for the rape of a child under 13.
In that case, a 44-year-old man was sentenced to die for raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter. He is one of the only death-row inmates in the nation who was not convicted of committing or participating in a murder. A few months ago, a Louisiana jury recommended death for a second man convicted of repeatedly raping a 5-year-old.
Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have adopted capital punishment for child rape in the past two years. Montana has had the law since 1997.
Other states have developed strict strategies for monitoring offenders, but some evidence shows the strategy is backfiring.
In California, for example, a recent Los Angeles Times article outlined worries that the danger of sex offenders would rise as stricter laws lead to more homelessness.
California's version of Jessica's Law restricts where paroled offenders can live and requires electronic monitoring of their whereabouts. The law prohibits ex-offenders from living within 2,000 feet of places where children gather, but it lacks adequate definitions of such places. In some counties and cities, the law's residency restrictions make large swaths of housing off-limits, according the Times.
A report by that state's Sex Offender Management Board said the state has recorded a 44 percent increase in those registered as transients.
Several experts interviewed for this story urged caution about placing so many limits on sex offenders that they can't operate or function in society. In the past seven months, there have been two serious incidents involving sex offenders.
"We seem to be seeing a bit more desperation out of sex offenders," Shaw said.
In February, sex-offender parole agents went to a Salt Lake apartment complex to talk to Mark Nielson, 45, who had been convicted of three counts of rape of a child. He had apparently failed his treatment and didn't want to go back to jail. He wouldn't let officers in, and he later killed himself after telephone negotiations with Salt Lake police.
Last summer, a parolee fugitive sex offender took a hostage after a botched hijacking. At one point, Mark Sickler, 45, had his arm around a woman's neck and a gun to his head. "He said he wanted to die. He wasn't going back to prison," Salt Lake police detectives said at the time.
Officers tried to negotiate with the man but eventually shot and killed him during the confrontation.
The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole also has an important role in this picture.
The board actually has a separate matrix it follows, which generally keeps sex offenders in prison longer than inmates convicted of an equivalent felony drug crime, for example. But board member Jesse Gallegos knows that if something goes wrong, if a sex offender re-offends or retreats to prior behavior, the board's actions are continually second-guessed."We're tasked with an impossible job," said Gallegos. "Which is to predict human behavior."
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