AP presents misleading revisionist Katrina sex-offender history

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Earlier, Drudge linked an AP story that contained some serious spin by the federal government:

Governors in states that accepted Katrina evacuees are being urged to locate about 2,000 registered sex offenders who fled the Gulf region during the hurricane’s mayhem and may have vanished from legally required tracking.

“When sex offenders know they’re being watched, when they know they’re being monitored, they are less likely to offend again,” said Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services. “When they no longer believe they are being monitored or watched, they can be tempted to offend again.”

The Administration for Children and Families estimated that about 30 states are affected. In November, agency officials matched the names of sex offender registries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with the names of evacuees who applied for disaster assistance.

The agency came up with more than 2,000 matches. The find led Horn to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on a system that would allow state law enforcement agencies to find registered sex offenders who are receiving disaster assistance.

[snip]

Horn wrote the nation’s 50 governors in late November to alert them to the new search they could undertake with FEMA, and the process they were to use.

“I am greatly concerned that known sex offenders who may have relocated to your State may take advantage of their anonymity and harm children once again,” Horn wrote in a letter to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

KHOU-11 has posted a chopped version of the story on its website (I don’t know if they ran the story on television) and KTRK-13 mentioned the story on air earlier (they haven’t posted it to their website).

In both instances, our local professional media neglected to highlight a key local angle to the story. blogHOUSTON readers may recall that in mid-November, we pointed out that Houston’s media outlets had neglected to report on the sex-offender story, even though several state news organizations and the Washington Times had already reported that officials in Texas were having difficulty getting the federal government to release ANY information on evacuees who might be sex offenders. KTRK-13’s Jessica Willey finally reported on the matter several days later, and other local media picked up on it after Chief Hurtt called a press conference (of course).

Thus, the federal officials quoted in the USA Today and AP stories are simply being disingenuous in suggesting that they have somehow led the charge in trying to get states interested in Katrina refugees who might be sex offenders. In Texas, we know that our state officials were very interested in obtaining that information, and had great difficulty getting cooperation from the federal government. It wouldn’t have hurt KHOU and KTRK to point that out, instead of simply repeating the misleading spin from Washington.

ANNE ADDS: Parents are advised to (still) keep a close eye on their kids. The story says that Texas knows of 304 sex offenders; how many more are lurking in the shadows…or near schools?


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Kevin Whited
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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX