Stanley, 43, a released sex offender in New Jersey, has been having trouble following rules like staying every night at his mother’s house and seeing a therapist, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Parole officer Greg Baker warned him that he was facing a prison term twice as long as the one he had already served. Baker reminded him that sex offenders are getting a new level of scrutiny from the media and lawmakers. “You think a judge in this political climate is going to be lenient?” Baker asked.
In the high-stakes struggle to prevent released sex offenders from committing new sex crimes, Baker is on the front lines. New Jersey’s sex-offender population has surged from 225 in 2000 to more than 2,500 and is growing by more than 30 a month. State law now places sex offenders on a form of parole that can last a lifetime. Baker knows what is at risk if the system breaks down, or even if one bad case slips through the cracks. “One of our guys scoops up a little kid -it’s a problem,” he said. Until last month, there were 41 parole officers supervising 2,588 sex offenders in New Jersey. Seven regular parole officers were recently reassigned to the Sex Offender Management Unit to relieve the caseload burden, which now averages about 54 per officer. Since March, Baker has had to handle more than 80 cases. Ideally, he said, a caseload of “35, 40 is the goal.”