In Harford, knocking on doors of convicted sexual offenders

County focuses on verifying accuracy of listed addresses

August 07, 2005|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,SUN STAFF

Clipboard in hand, Glenn Mina headed off to his new job recently: visiting the homes of rapists and child molesters.

His duty for the Harford County Sheriff's Office is to make sure they live where they say they live.

He recounted knocking one recent morning on the door of a Joppatowne man who had served several years in prison for a sex offense and is on probation. His wife answered the door and became alarmed when she learned that the Sheriff's Office was looking for her husband, Mina said.

"Oh no," Mina recalled her saying. "Are there more accusations?"

He reassured her that there weren't, that he just needed to verify the address her husband gave to the state.

She said her husband would be back after work. Mina assured her that he would be back as well.

Mina, a former lieutenant and commander in the office's investigations unit, was hired out of retirement last month to verify the addresses of the approximately 80 child sex-offenders registered in Harford County.

Other jurisdictions conduct similar checks.

After Carl Preston Evans Jr., a convicted sex offender, was accused of killing his 13-year-old stepdaughter in Essex last month, Howard County police tried to track down all 76 of that county's registered offenders. They reported that six were unaccounted for as of yesterday evening.

On Friday, Baltimore County police captured Evans. Until the July 25 killing, authorities didn't have an accurate address for Evans, a convicted rapist who is listed on the state's registry. Evans was one of about 800 registered offenders in Maryland -- one in five -- for whom the state might not have an accurate address.

In Baltimore County, auxiliary police check the addresses of registered child sex offenders, confirming them at least once a year.

In counties such as Harford, the job of verifying sex-offender addresses becomes more laborious as the sex offender list expands. Because many sex offenders are required to register for life, the list rarely gets shorter. However, when these sex offenders finish the terms of their parole and probation, it is harder for authorities to keep track of them, state officials say.

In Harford, the number of child sex-offenders has expanded from about 30 in 2001 to 80, according to figures from the Harford sheriff's Web site.

Harford County Sheriff R. Thomas Golding said last month that he will create a position in his budget next year for the sole purpose of verifying sex-offender addresses. Mina, a part-time civilian employee, will cost the department $7,700 this year.

Harford police authorities say an updated list is critical to future investigations.

"If an incident occurs, we're able to quickly identify and locate potential suspects" on the sex-offender registry, said Lt. James Eyler, a Harford sheriff spokesman.

2 charged

In the past year, Harford authorities have charged at least two sex offenders with providing wrong addresses. The misdemeanor carries a maximum three years in prison or $5,000 fine, a Harford sheriff's spokesman said. Both men charged by Harford authorities are awaiting trial.

Mina, 55, spent many years on patrol and as a commander in the investigations unit.

In his new job, he wore khakis and a green polo shirt recently as he visited homes in a police cruiser, he said. Mina carried packets containing background information on each child sex offender, as well as a yellow notepad on which he checked off which addresses he had verified, he said.

To verify an address, he must meet the sex offender at his or her home. He also asks for mail and a driver's license showing the address on the state register.

Of the 22 homes he visited recently, he verified that nine were correct. He plans to revisit the remaining 13.

`Under the spotlight'

Mina said many offenders he has visited are not overly bothered by the visit.

"They know they're under the spotlight," Mina said.

He added: "When he becomes a violator, the community comes before the offender's rights at that point."

David P. Wolinksi, the state official in charge of the Maryland Sex Offender Registry, said officials like Mina should operate on the assumption that some offenders provide the wrong address.

"There's a lot of incentive for an individual not to provide good information," Wolinski said. "It impacts their jobs, it impacts where they can live, it affects their friends and family."

Sun staff writer Laura Barnhardt contributed to this article.

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