OKLAHOMA CITY —
Oklahoma’s three-tiered system for registering sex offenders is based on 24 qualifying sex crimes. A Level 3 designation requires offenders to register for life and verify their addresses every three months. A Level 2 requires them to register for 25 years, with address verification every six months. A Level 1 requires them to register for 15 years, with address verification once a year.
Richard Kishur, a licensed counselor who has been treating sex offenders for nearly 25 years, said Oklahoma’s current three-tiered system “makes no sense at all.”
“The crime that they’re convicted for tells you nothing about their behavior,” Kishur said. “We’re really wasting very scarce resources on closely supervising people that don’t need it.”
Kishur said 50 years of research into sex offender behavior has resulted in numerous assessment techniques that bring more accurate findings about whether a sex offender is a threat.
“Statistically we can identify who will reoffend and who won’t, within a fairly ... small margin of error,” he said.
But lawmakers knew testing would come with a cost. And when the federal government threatened the loss of federal funds if states didn’t develop a uniform system for classifying sex offenders under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Oklahoma opted for a “quick and dirty” fix, Kishur said.
“The federal law that began all this mentioned that risk assessment should be done and said the crime for which the person was convicted was one of the things that would be utilized,” he said. “What we did in Oklahoma was sort of take that and twist it and just do the crime. It’s cheap. It’s quick and dirty, and it’s an administrative function that doesn’t do anything.”