The Desert Messenger, "Quartzsite's FREE Community Paper", now in our 7th year, is NOT affiliated in ANY WAY with the Desert Freedom Press (DFP), a 6-month old tabloid still operating without a Quartzsite business license. Publisher, Jennifer "Jade" Harris-Jones, claims she doesn't need one because the paper is free and quotes "case law", etc. Well, she has a court date on Wed. to see if that defense holds true.
A recent article in DFP expressed sympathy for two Quartzsite Level 2 & 3 CONVICTED Sex Offenders. I received an email from an irrate reader, assuming the article was published in my paper. After clarifying the situation with the reader (who was very apologetic about the mixup), it became clear to me that readers are falling prey to the confusion Jennifer "Jade" Harris-Jones probably had hoped for when she chose the name of her publication.
The name of her first publication dated Dec. 2010, was "Desert Free Press". After the owner of www.DesertFreePress.com became aware of the use his name, Jones quickly changed it slightly, as if no one would notice, to "Desert Freedom Press". Changes were made on her blog and on her paper's blog site, deleting all references of the original name on the Internet.
Jones' article, titled, "Sex offenders take offense" claims that "neither sex offenders had been convicted by a jury of their peers, on evidence that proved their guilt 'beyond a reasonable doubt'". As the mother of a child who was molested, I can tell you that my daughter's perpetrator was also not brought before a "jury of his peers". That's just the way it was. My daughters' offender is still a registered sex offender, according to United States law.
To give such a prominent position and space to a level 2 and a level 3 sex offender, quoting "the girl's family was rich and we were poor" is just irresponsible reporting, in my opinion.
My daughter's journey of healing was a long process, as is any child, or adult, who experienced this type of crime. If the author of that article had any ounce of compassion, she would have taken the time to be concerned about the victims of these crimes, rather than spotlight the sad stories of the perpetrators. Yes, they served their time, and they will continue to be forced to register in the town(s) they live in. That's the way the law is set up, period. That does not stop them from going out to eat at the local McDonald's. Was he banned due to something else? The laws protect Sex Offenders from harassment. If that were true, I suggest he make a formal complaint and not play it out in the local tabloid.
According to Judy Hedding, of http://www.about.com/,
"Arizona's Department of Public Safety knows that there are about 11,000 sex offenders in the State of Arizona. Sex offenders who have been released from custody are required to register with the police. You can see if the most dangerous of those have moved into your area at the Arizona Department of Public Safety's Sex Offender Info Center.
Why is DPS Doing This?
In June of 1996 Arizona adopted its version of "Megan's Law" which includes a community notification process when a sex offender is released from jail or prison, or when they are on probation. By placing this information on the Internet, everyone can now have access to the information and can assist in keeping the information current. Maricopa County has been recognized by The Center For Sex Offender Management as one of sixteen areas of the country that has implemented unique resources for sex offender management.
What is Megan's Law?
Megan Kanka was 7 years old when a twice-convicted sex offender, living across the street, brutally raped and murdered her. The crime occurred in New Jersey. In 1994 Governor Christine Todd Whitman signed "Megan's Law" requiring convicted sex offenders to register with local police. The law further establishes a system of notification to the public. President Clinton signed the law in May 1996.
Who's On the Arizona List?
There are approximately 11,000 sex offenders in Arizona. According to the AZ Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Compliance Team, as of September 2007 there are about 2,700 Level 2 sex offenders in Arizona, (about 1,100 of them reside in Maricopa County), and about 1,700 Level 3 sex offenders in Arizona (about 750 of them reside in Maricopa County).
Registered sex offenders from other states must register in Arizona only if they will be in Arizona for more than 10 days. Transients must also register, and are designated as "homeless." There is a limit to how many sex offenders on probation can reside in any one multi-family dwelling to prevent clustering. As of September 19, 2007 Arizona law stipulates that Level 3 sex offenders may not reside within 1,000 feet of a school or a day care center (certain exemptions apply).
How Is the Risk Established and What do the Levels Mean?
There are 19 criteria used to assess the likelihood that a convicted sex offender will commit such a crime again. Point values are assessed for the 19 risk factors, and the total points derived for an individual determine whether he/she will be assigned a Level 1, 2 or 3 rating. Level 1 represents low risk, Level 2 represents intermediate risk, and Level 3 represents high risk."
As a society, we need to be compassionate to all victims of sex crimes. Yes, I am very passionate about this painful topic! I have a reason to be concerned about the youth of our nation! They are our future and we are their teachers. Anyone who is a parent knows the responsibility of raising a child to be a valuable assest to our society. We teach compassion, respect, the honor of our elders, to be able to recognize right from wrong, to be helpful, to walk in a good way on this earth, along with many other character traits.
When making decisions, we need to ask ourselves, "how will this serve the next 7 generations?" Protecting our children is the most important thing we can do as a society. I hope Quartzsite residents will take a stand to protect all of our youth!