The cost of monitoring sex offenders - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

The cost of monitoring sex offenders

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- The cost of tracking Iowa sex offenders in the next decade will be at least $30 million more than it is now, according to a report from Iowa's Division of Juvenile and Justice Planning.

That is, unless officials find better ways to curb costs while guarding public safety. The new research shows parole caseloads in Iowa will go up more than 50% by 2020.  But law enforcement in Linn County have a plan to keep up with the extra demand.

"Maintaining the registry is the biggest expense."  Lt. Scott Elam of the Marion Police Department agrees that as more sex offenders are added to the list, they may need to adjust who they're keeping a close eye on.

Elam says, "I think at some point more will have to be loosened up a bit, especially if you get somebody that commits a minor offense and gets put on the registry."

But, that's not the only solution.  Partnerships between agencies need to be a priority.  

"We work well with the sheriff's department. We have regular sex offender registry meetings so we discuss new people added to the list. I think the partnership is there but as far as a budget matter, for the Marion Police Department, it won't be that big of an issue.  It would hurt the Sheriff's budget more than it hurts us."

Law enforcement groups and judiciary committees won't make any changes to existing sex offender laws in this legislative session but Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner isn't worried about things in the short-term.  The Sheriffs Department already employs one full-time investigator to focus on registered sex offenders, and they'll budget for another if the demand goes up.

Gardner says, "If push came to shove we already know which ones are more likely to re-offend and could concentrate on them. I'm not saying the others would skate.  They'd still be monitored but we could concentrate on those who cause the most risk to general public."

You can read the entire report from the Division of Juvenile and Justice Planning published in the Des Moines Register here.

It shows 23,000 additional sex offenders will require monitoring by 2020.

That equals just over $3 million a year.

Online reporter:  Molly Nichols

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