Number of sex offenders in county increases

The number of registered sex offenders living in San Benito
County has increased by more than 10 percent from last year,
according to statistics from local law enforcement.
The number of registered sex offenders living in San Benito County has increased by more than 10 percent from last year, according to statistics from local law enforcement.

During the past year, the number increased by 10, going from 79 registrants in 2001 to 89 as of this morning, according to the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department.

“This is a big deal with us,” Sheriff Curtis Hill said. “We track them throughout the year.”

But Hill said there was no need for the public to be alarmed because the number of registrants fluctuates as registrants move into and out of the county.

A registered sex offender is one convicted of certain sex-related offenses and who is required for life to register with local law enforcement whenever they move into or out of a community.

If the sex offender moves into an unincorporated area he or she must register with the sheriff’s department. If the registrant moves into a city, they must register with the local police department.

Of the 89 registrants currently in the county, 68 live within the city limits of Hollister, police Detective George Ramirez said.

Police believe the registration of sex offenders helps in the investigation of sex-related crimes.

“It appears that sex offenders who commit the crimes they do, not in all instances, are repeat offenders,” Hollister Police Chief Bill Pierpoint said.

He said sex offenders are registered in three categories: high risk, serious and other. There are two high-risk offenders registered in the area, one in Hollister and one in the unincorporated area of the county. There are 71 serious offenders registered in the area, and 16 listed in the “other” category.

Because serious and high-risk sex offenders are statistically more likely to repeat their crimes, the state makes available a special CD-ROM that lists the more than 90,000 registered sex offenders in the state and under “Megan’s Law,” anyone with a serious concern can find out if someone living near them is a serious or high-risk offender.

Information on the 16 people listed in the “other” category is not available on the CD because they are considered less likely to commit another sex-related offense.

The CD can be viewed for free at the Sheriff’s Department at 451 Fourth St. or at the Hollister Police Department at 395 Apollo Court by making an appointment.

The CD is available at sheriff and police departments across the state as part of the California’s version of Megan’s Law. The law is named in memory of 7-year-old Megan Kanka who was killed in July 1994, in Hamilton Township, N.J.

Jesse Timmendequas, a twice-convicted sex offender, was eventually sentenced to death for her murder and rape. Megan’s parents lobbied for state and federal laws requiring officials to find ways to warn neighbors when known sex offenders move into a neighborhood.

California’s version of Megan’s Law went into effect in 1996.

Most states have their own version of a Megan’s Law to let people know if a sex offender is living in their area, allowing residents to take personal precautions to protect themselves and their family or loved ones.

Use of information from the CD to engage in discrimination or harassment is illegal, and use of this information to commit a felony shall be punished by a five-year prison term in addition to other possible punishment, according to the State Attorney General’s office.

The CD is not the only way someone can find out about serious or high-risk sex offenders.

People can call 1-900-448-3000 and check whether one or two individuals are registered child molesters. California’s version of Megan’s Law also includes those registered for sex crimes against adults.

The information on a registered sex offender includes name and known aliases; age and sex; physical description, including scars, marks and tattoos; photograph, if available; crimes resulting in registration; county of residence; zip code (based on last registration).

To obtain information using the 1-900-448-3000 California Sex Offender Information database, you must:

Be at least 18 years of age;

Provide your name and California driver’s license or California identification card number, or date of birth or Social Security Number.

Provide the name of the individual on whom you are checking; give the individual’s exact street address; or exact date of birth; or California driver’s license, personal identification number or Social Security Number.

Leave your comments