Friday, August 10, 2007

Letter Exchange with the US Department of Justice

Back in May I sent the following letter to the US Department of Justice regarding Proposed Guidelines.  Below is my letter and the response I just received back today.  I thought you might find it interesting.


From: Vicki Polin
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2007 9:45 PM
Subject: Proposed Guidelines

I was wondering what is being done to protect children from offenders who have never been convicted, especially with the new trend of offenders pleading to lessor charges to avoid being placed on the sex offender registry.

In many more insulated Jewish communities it is frowned upon to report an offender to the "secular authorities."  Instead rabbi tend to handle the cases on their own.  Often chasing an offender out of town to unsuspecting new community.  I know that this is not just happening in Jewish communities and is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Vicki Polin, MA, ATR-BC, LCPC

The Awareness Center, Inc.
(The Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)
P.O. Box 65273, Baltimore, MD 21209

Ms. Polin,

You ask a very difficult question.  If a sexual assault is not reported to the authorities, then there is no way for the legal system to intervene.  In order to be required to register under the Adam Walsh Act, a sex offender must be convicted.  Consequently, there is nothing we can do at the federal level to deal with sex offenders who are dealt with unofficially by a community. 

The issue of allowing accused sex offenders to plead to offenses that do not require registration is a concerning problem.  As a former child abuse prosecutor it would be concerning to know that a sex offender is allowed to plead to a reduced charge unless there was a proof problem with the case.  I say this with the knowledge that these cases can be very difficult to prosecute for a myriad of reasons.  Improving prosecution rates often times is aided by a well functioning multidisciplinary team within your local judicial system.  If you are interested in this issue in your community, I would suggest that you speak with someone at your local prosecutors office or if you have one, a local child advocacy center. 

Laura Rogers
SMART Office

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