State falls behind in assessing sex offenders

(June 21, 2004) - (Springdale-AP) -- Authorities say the state is behind in assessing sex offenders, leaving two thousand of Arkansas' five thousand offenders unassessed. They say the reason is staff shortages. Sheri Flynn is the Arkansas Department of Correction's Sex Offender Screening and Risk Assessment Program administrator. She said she has just six staffers to do the work and three of them are new hires. The backup of work worries some, like Deniece Smiley, who is Washington County's deputy prosecutor. She said she is concerned that offenders are being released without treatment. Smiley said doctors or counselors say treatment helps reduce repeatedincidents. Flynn said assessments take between four and six weeks because workers gather information about the offenders, like criminal records, and that takes time.