The arrest of a convicted sex offender this week in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 9-year-old Florida girl underscores a national problem, says USA Today: Authorities don’t have enough money to identify, treat, and monitor the sex offenders most likely to commit new crimes. John Couey’s name was on Florida’s sex-offender registry when he got a job at Jessica Lunsford’s school. “The systems at the state and federal levels need to be fixed,” says Allison Taylor of the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment. “We have 41,000 names on our registry,” she says. “If we could take our money and focus it on the 10 percent or so who are most likely to reoffend, we could make great progress.” Most sex offenders are less likely to reoffend than other criminals.
Florida state Rep. Charles Dean wants to require the state’s convicted sex offenders to wear GPS tracking devices after being released from prison. About 50,000 names are on the state’s sex-offender registry. Experts say tracking devices and registries alone won’t protect the public. “If we’re just going to go down that path, we do ourselves and society a great disservice,” says Fred Berlin of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma in Baltimore and a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. Researchers say that most sex offenders are relatives or acquaintances of their victims – not strangers such as Couey.