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When Will The United States Tighten Up Its Sex Offender Registry?

Illustration for article titled When Will The United States Tighten Up Its Sex Offender Registry?

In 2001, James Leggs was convicted of the rape of a minor and deemed a "high risk" sex offender by the state of Delaware. Eight years later, he's now suspected of kidnapping and killing 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell just last week.

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Foxwell disappeared from her home on Tuesday night, and was last seen with Leggs, who has since been arrested and charged with her kidnapping. Though no additional charges have been filed just yet, Foxwell's body was discovered in a wooded area on Christmas day, and according to the Baltimore Sun, police "call the girl's death murder" and are still collecting evidence and leads while Leggs remains in prison without bail.

It is an incredibly frustrating story in that we've heard it many times before: a child disappears, turns up dead, and a registered sex offender is to blame. And while Leggs was designated as "high risk" in the state in which he committed his 2001 rape, as Jill Rosen of the Sun points out, the "high risk" designation is nowhere to be found on the Maryland sex offender registry, raising questions as to how an offender can be considered "high risk" in one state but not in another.

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There is another story circulating the internet this weekend, a somewhat happier yet still horrifying story, wherein a 5-year-old girl was retrieved from a would-be kidnapper after a wild police chase in Phoenix. Police are calling it a "Christmas Miracle," as the girl was recovered from the sex offender (she was molested by the kidnapper) against the odds. Yet it's still a terrible sad and disturbing story, especially when one considers the flaws in the system, and how easy it is for something like this to happen again and again, without a happy ending.

Md. Girl's Death Sharpens Criticism Of Sex Offender Laws [WashingtonPost]
PD: Kidnapped Girl Rescued After West Valley Pursuit [ABC15]

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DISCUSSION

The way sex offender registries are set up really chaps my hide. They should take off anyone who had sex with a teenager while still being a teenager and people who were caught peeing in public. It's all really absurd.