July 27, 2005

FOR THE SAKE OF OUR CHILDREN

Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

Horrific crimes shrivel our souls and evoke a range of emotionsâ??shock, anguish, despair, frustration, anger. The closer it hits to home, the harsher these feelings become and no matter how hard I try, I cannot fathom the utter evil that these crimes bespeak. This summer Idaho felt this to its very foundation, most particularly Coeur dâ??Alene. Children, once secure in the safety of their homes and neighborhoods now ask parents if doors and windows are locked. Adults share grief and fear in public places, finding solace even in the company of total strangers. These crimes have violated our sense of personal security.These tragic events are especially difficult from my perspective as a father. I have five children and I know the cold hand that closes around a parentâ??s heart when a child is missing or worse. Still, Idahoans have proven time and again that they have the strength to move from the shock and despair of tragedy through anger to a place of relentless resolve. I feel certain that this will prove no different. Idaho has a strong record of monitoring registered sex offenders. Unfortunately, as the terrible stories of the victims of the past year attest, violent child predators move freely between states posing a national threat to our communities, large and small. I remain unwavering in my resolve to do all I can to make sure that sex offenders donâ??t threaten the security of our children and our families.Often times over the past decade, I have told of a visit I made to a safe home for children in Idaho. I met a brother and sister who had been victims of unspeakable violence for most of their lives. I learned in a split second that everything I had read and heard, every person I had spoken with in the sterile environment of my offices--nothing prepared me for what I saw that day. I made a commitment at that time to use the resources at my disposal and my position in public office to stand against violence committed upon children. That opportunity has presented itself numerous times over the years and now, once again, I have the chance to work with my colleagues and fellow Idahoans to protect our children. This is why I co-sponsored S. 1086, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. This legislation consolidates prior laws regarding the monitoring and registration of sex offenders, further clarifies the definition of child predator, broadens the scope of crimes that fall under the federal definition of sex offender for registration purposes, and establishes a national sex offender registry with which all states and tribes must comply. The new law would require-Sex offenders to register in person every six months instead of annually; violent predators, every three months;-Any change that requires a registry update to occur in three days, not ten-- the current requirement;-Annual photograph updates;-State prisons to notify state attorneys general when â??high riskâ?? offenders are to be released from prison;-The filing of missing children reports within two hours of receipt which erases the current loophole that can cause disastrous delays;-The U. S. Attorney General to immediately notify states electronically when a sex offender moves.These and other provisions of the legislation demonstrate a concerted effort to address the national tragedy of crimes against our children. My and my familyâ??s prayers continue to be with those affected by recent events in north Idaho. I pledge to work toward safer communities and neighborhoods where children and parents can live and play free from fear.