52 County Sweep Checks In On Sex Offenders

Recently the United States Marshals teamed up with local law enforcement to verify the listed addresses of registered sex offenders. The audit was performed in the 52 counties that comprise the federal Northern District of the state.

The audit is known as the Sex offender Tracking and Registration effort (STAR), and represents a joint project between federal Marshals and local law enforcement to perform a 100% compliance check to ensure that sex offenders are providing accurate information to the State’s registry. The audit in Iowa was the first STAR operation in the nation.

Overall, authorities checked in with 1,745 registered sex offenders.

Overall, authorities checked in with 1,745 registered sex offenders. Of those, 155 were found to have provided a false address. Having an over 90% registration rate is encouraging and may be reflective of recent efforts to implement changes to registration requirements by 2009 legislation. The goal remains to achieve 100% compliance.

The comprehensive sweep through the Northern half of the state should send a strong message to all registered sex offenders. Law enforcement is serious about the requirements placed upon sex offenders and the interest isn’t just from local officials. The support of U.S. Marshals is a clear indication that increasingly standardized regulations across the country will be enforced.

According to information provided at a May 10 press conference with Tim Junker, Northern District U.S. Marshal, charges have already been filed against 63 of the 155 sex offenders found out of compliance. That situation is still developing. While Federal charges will be pursued where a sex offenders has crossed state lines and failed to register, many of the violators are going to face the stiff penalties contained in SF 340 from the 2009 Legislature.

For a sex offender found to be in violation of the law they face an aggravated misdemeanor for the first offense and a class “D” felony for second or subsequent offenses. The new law in Iowa does not allow for the suspension of any fine imposed against a sex offender or for a deferred or suspended sentence.

While the STAR effort was aimed at verifying addresses, it also gave authorities an opportunity to observe if other requirements of the law were being followed. This means a number of offenders will likely face additional charges. According to Tim Junker, this effort should send a message to sex offenders and they should understand that the Marshals are likely to do this again.