Beebout moved from California to Oregon, never telling police where he was living as required. Once here, he beat up one woman and killed two others. At one point, he was found sleeping on a park bench at Portland State University. Twice-convicted child molester Daniel Zetterholm registered in San Diego, then hopped a bus and turned up in Portland with 4, images of child pornography and a guide for sex offenders on how to avoid detection.
Predator Jeffrey Cutlip left Oregon three times — once for three years — with police none the wiser. Only when he returned to collect Social Security and later turned himself in did they learn he'd traveled to New Mexico, California and Texas.
All three men easily flouted the nation's mandatory sex offender registration law by moving from state to state without letting authorities know. Once off the radar, they continued to prey on women and children. They lived or landed in Oregon, a state with one of the worst records in the country at following federal standards intended to thwart roaming sex offenders. It has become a haven for offenders who want to escape much stricter rules in other states. Oregon is two years behind entering names into its electronic database of registered sex offenders.
It's so out of date that local police don't rely on it. Oregon's public website lists only a fraction — 2. So residents can't really tell who and how many sex offenders are in their neighborhoods.
In fact, Oregon has the most registered sex offenders per capita of any state except one, national statistics show. And those are the sex offenders police know about. Others come to Oregon with no intention of playing by the rules. They simply don't register. They exploit federal and state laws that rely on the honor system. It's up to an offender to continue to register. Police often discover violators only after they commit another crime, get pulled over during a traffic stop or because someone reports them.
Oregon registration law All registered sex offenders must report, in person, to an Oregon State Police office, a city police department or a county sheriff's office in the county where they live: Once each year within 10 days of their birth date, regardless of whether they recently changed addresses; within 10 days of a change of residence; within 10 days of their first day of working at or attending a higher education institution; and within 10 days of changing their work or attendance at a higher education institution.
Files containing the state's registered sex offenders sit in the Salem office of the Oregon State Police. The act sought to address deficiencies in earlier laws that had allowed sex offenders to evade registration requirements that varied by state. Of , sex offenders who live in the U. The federal law expanded the types of crimes eligible for registration, increased the period and frequency of registration for some offenders and called for states to publicize considerable information on the Internet.
The deadline to comply was Today, only 19 states have substantially met the requirements. Oregon is among four states that have done the least to comply, completing only eight of the 14 federal guidelines, according to a study this year by the U. Some states also feel the federal law stigmatizes offenders while giving the public a false sense of security.
But states also pay the price of not complying. They lose 10 percent of an annual federal crime-fighting grant or, like Oregon, must direct the 10 percent to try to get in line with the federal law.
Changes to state law are bringing Oregon more in line with other states, closing loopholes, for instance, that once excluded criminals convicted of certain offenses in other states from having to register here. Oregon State Police, who are responsible for the state's sex offender database, acknowledge that they still have a long way to go to fulfill the federal law, also known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act or SORNA.
Calvin Curths, commander of the state police criminal investigation division. Registry backlog State police are overwhelmed by the volume of registrations, Curths said. They receive about 2, a month between new registrations and address changes. Plagued by significant staff turnover this year, they're still working to log in the names of more than 1, sex offenders who had to register for the first time since , Curths said.
Also in the queue: More than 13, updated change-of-address or annual registrations. The person sex offender registration unit, which does the record-keeping but not enforcement, lost more than three-quarters of its staff this past summer to retirement and moves to other jobs. They've hired a new manager and filled the openings, but it takes time to get new staff trained, Curths said.
State police must verify the information before putting it into the system. The staff works to at least note in the database by day's end that a "pending registration" is waiting for processing. Some local police still submit the data on paper, which takes longer to enter. Some places haven't had anywhere for sex offenders to register or they've limited hours because of their own staff shortfalls.
Sex offenders in Oregon must register in the county where they live, but until recently at least three counties in central Oregon — Lake, Gilliam and Sherman — had nowhere for them to go. The state police office in The Dalles had been registering sex offenders from several counties, said Lt. No, we want to get the folks registered.
It also makes it a less useful tool for detectives when they try to identify potential suspects in unsolved crimes. Beebout — the man who killed two women last year in Portland — still isn't in the state registry, even though he was convicted of failing to register in March in Clatsop County and was sentenced to life for aggravated murder and assault eight months ago in Multnomah County.
Predatory Sex Offenders Under Oregon state law, a predatory sex offender is someone who exhibits characteristics showing a tendency to victimize or injure others and has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit one of these crimes: The state also uses a risk assessment scale to help determine whether a person is a predatory sex offender, which considers their criminal history and circumstances of their sex offense conviction.
Marshal Barbara Alfano eyes a mugshot of a noncompliant sex offender before descending on the apartment where he was suspected of living, hoping to make an arrest. Under Oregon state law, a predatory sex offender is someone who exhibits characteristics showing a tendency to victimize or injure others and has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit one of these crimes: Oregon State Police Oregon's community notifications also fall far short of the federal guidelines. The names, photos and criminal histories of only of Oregon's 25, sex offenders appear on the state's public website.
By state law, Oregon limits the list to certain predatory sex offenders, not all. They make the website only if they meet three criteria: They must be designated as predatory sex offenders; authorities must have notified the community before the offender was released from supervision; and they must be considered high-risk at the end of their most recent period of supervision.
In contrast, federal law calls for states to publicize all registered sex offender's photos, names, addresses and places of employment, except for those convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses that involve an adult victim. It also says states must send an e-mail notification to people who ask to be alerted when a sex offender moves into their or a relative's neighborhood.
Oregon State Police don't put out any notices. They used to do neighborhood door-to-door notifications of predatory sex offenders, but that lasted a year or two.
Some of the state's 36 counties have their own sex offender websites and do their own community notifications. Multnomah County's website, for instance, includes all predatory sex offenders while they're under supervision by county officers.
The county usually alerts local authorities when it starts supervising a new predatory sex offender, and may contact immediate neighbors or a landlord or put out a media alert. New state law Oregon is out of step with the federal law in classifying sex offenders, though backers believe the state's way is better. The federal law says states must put sex offenders in three categories based on convictions, but Oregon deliberately chose not to follow that mandate.
Instead, state lawmakers this year passed House Bill that would create a new three-tiered registration system based on an offender's risk and direct more attention to the highest-risk group. The legislation also makes it easier for certain offenders to petition for relief from registration.
Jeff Barker, co-chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said the list of sex offenders is growing too big to follow. People with lesser crimes and a period of good behavior should have a chance to get off that list,' Barker said.
All would have to register once a year and with each change of address, but certain sex offenders could apply to the state to stop registering five or 10 years after their supervision ends. But Oregon's requirements don't come close to the federal law's standard, which requires serious offenders to register at least four times a year and the lowest tier two times a year.
Risk assessments have been done for about 16, of Oregon's offenders. The state parole board could finish the rest in another four years if it gets two additional staffers, said Jay Scroggin, who recently served as the board's executive director. Each assessment takes one to four hours. Ken Nolley, president of Oregon Voices, a group representing families of sex offenders, lobbied for Oregon's approach as much more humane than the "indiscriminate" federal law.
With its excessive monitoring, the federal law makes it impossible for some offenders to find a job or housing after serving their prison time, he said. Having their names on a public website doesn't deter offenders and doesn't make the community safer, he said.
Enforcement gaps Deputy U. Marshal Rod Johnson, sex offender investigations coordinator for Oregon, approaches a Gresham apartment in search of a sex offender with a robbery warrant out for him. The suspect's mother answered the door and directed the officers to a Portland location where the suspect was thought to be. The task to find them mostly falls to U.
Marshals Service in Oregon. Each state has one marshal who serves as a sex offender coordinator. In Oregon, Deputy Marshal Rod Johnson works closely with the Portland police sex offender registration detail and provides overtime for police to check that offenders are living where they say they are. They've averaged three missions a year.
Local police enforcement varies widely. Portland police are among the most active with their three-member detail, while other agencies don't have the staff to even register offenders. Portland is a draw for sex offenders from other states. It's the biggest population center in a state with liberal sex offender laws and a healthy roster of social services, police said. States are supposed to share information about sex offenders who relocate to another state. Tighter controls are in place for sex offenders still on parole or probation who want to move out of state.
They must apply to move, and the sending state must gain the receiving state's permission and send an alert and address when the move occurs. No similar coordination is required between states for offenders who have completed their supervision. Department of Justice provides a free Internet portal, sort of like a cloud database, for state registry officials to exchange information on offenders with another state.