PORTLAND — Oregon has, per capita, more registered sex offenders than all but one other state. It also has one of the worst records in the country for following federal standards intended to keep sex offenders from moving to avoid supervision, and it has become a haven for offenders dodging stricter rules elsewhere, a newspaper investigation has concluded.
Often, officers came across sex offenders violating the terms of their sentences only because the offenders commit another crime, they're pulled over for a traffic stop or someone reports them, The Oregonian reported Wednesday.
"Most of these cases, to be blunt, are dumb luck," said Josh Marquis, the Clatsop County's district attorney who handled one of the state's most notable cases, that of sex offender Mark D. Beebout.
Beebout moved from California to Oregon, never telling police where he was living as required. Once in Oregon, he beat up one woman and killed two others.
He still isn't in the state registry, even though he was convicted of failing to register in March 2012 in Clatsop County and was sentenced to life for aggravated murder and assault eight months ago in Multnomah County.
Oregon has 496 registered sex offenders for each 100,000 people. The highest proportion in the nation is in Delaware, 537 offenders per 100,000 people.
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 It's so out of date that local police don't rely on it.
"We don't like where we're at," said Capt. Calvin Curths, commander of the State Police criminal investigation division. "We're trying to fix it."
The registration unit has 12 people, but retirements and job changes last summer turned over three quarters of the staff. Only one person is now qualified to log in more than 1,200 offenders registering for the first time since 2011.
The names, photos and criminal histories of only 649 of Oregon's 25,354 sex offenders appear on the state's public website.
Oregon law limits the list to sex offenders designated as predatory and includes other qualifications. 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.