Alabama schools struggle with juvenile sex offenders in classrooms Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser Published Three years ago, their daughter was victimized by a thenyear-old boy. Juvenile criminal cases are sealed in Alabama. Facts about the case were confirmed by off-the-record sources who have knowledge of what took place. The Montgomery Advertiser does not identify victims of sex crimes. Where do juvenile sex offenders live in Alabama? At the time of the incident, their daughter was younger than 12, the parents said.
There are no jury trials in juvenile court; the judge makes the decisions. Under Alabama law, the young man is considered a sex offender. At the time, the young man was enrolled in an Autauga County high school. It was time to try and put the pieces back together. When getting ready to start school, the brother spotted the convicted juvenile sex offender at the school. The young man had re-enrolled. No one told us this was possible at all.
I mean, for our son to have to go to school every day and see the person that abused his little sister? Children have a right to receive an education. In fact, Alabama has a mandatory attendance law. Children younger than 16 must be enrolled in school. They can attend public, private or parochial schools, or they can be home-schooled. It is the responsibility of local boards of education to ensure that children under the age of 16 in their districts are enrolled.
We think a better approach would be to remove any convicted juvenile sex offender from a classroom setting. But we strongly believe that convicted juvenile sex offenders should not be mainstreamed with the general enrollment. ALEA also maintains the statewide adult sex offender registry, which is open to public view. Juvenile sex offenders fall under a classification system in Alabama, separated by the likelihood of their chances to offend again.
The lowest tier, known as "Number Ones," have been deemed by the courts as the least likely to offend again. The young man in the Autauga case was declared a Number One offender.
The second- and third-tiers have been judged by the courts as being of moderate or high risk to offend again. On the ALEA juvenile sex offender registry, information on offenders deemed at a low or moderate risk to offend again is not public. Information on juvenile sex offenders deemed as having a high risk to offend again are on the public website. Information on the site for juvenile sex offenders is basically the same as adult sex offenders.
The one change for juvenile sex offenders is the address of the school the offender attends, if that is applicable. Other information on the public website for juvenile sex offenders are: Including aliases, nicknames, ethnic names or Tribal names. Address of the school the offender attends, if applicable. License plate number and description of vehicle the offender uses. Criminal history of the sex offender, included what crime he was adjudicated delinquent for and why the court deemed the offender as being high risk.
The juvenile registry at ALEA tracks all juvenile sex offenders in the state. Juvenile sex offenders are younger than 18 when they were adjudicated. There is no way to determine how many of the juvenile sex offenders on the ALEA registry are enrolled in schools, but the numbers do give perspective as to how many juvenile sex offenders there are in the state. There were 13 juvenile sex offenders listed on the registry as living in Autauga County, with Elmore County having 27 and Montgomery County having Henry, Perry and Wilcox counties showed no juvenile sex offenders on the registry.
State law holds that for low-risk juvenile sex offenders, local law enforcement is required to notify where the juvenile has established a residence to the principal of the school where the juvenile sex offender will attend. Anyone else who directly or indirectly discloses that information could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. For moderate-risk juvenile sex offenders, local law enforcement is required to provide notification of where the juvenile has established a residence to all schools and childcare facilities within three miles of the juveniles declared address.
High-risk juvenile sex offenders are placed on the public sex offender registry website and local law enforcement conducts notification to the public as though the juvenile were an adult sex offender. But juvenile justice advocates feel that treatment may be too harsh. The re-offense rate for sex offenses is substantially lower than are the recidivism rates for other adolescent delinquent behavior, which range from 8 percent to 58 percent.
Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, is sponsoring a bill that would change the way notification and enrollment of juvenile sex offenders is handled. The bill has passed out of the Senate. This is the same board and superintendent that expelled the young man for a year after he was adjudicated. Elmore County Schools also do not have a policy on juvenile sex offenders in the classroom, said Superintendent Richard Dennis. Seale expressed concerns about giving too much information, given the juvenile status of the case.
He would not confirm if the Autauga County schools has a policy in place for handling juvenile sex offenders in the classroom. It calls for the Alabama Department of Education to craft an enrollment policy that addresses a statewide framework. But the bill leaves it up to local boards of education as if juvenile sex offenders are allowed in a classroom setting.
I feel the local boards are best able to modify and fine tune any enrollment policies. As I did my initial research, and as the process has moved forward, I quickly realized just how broad and complex this problem is statewide.