Problems in system leave sex offenders loose on the street - 8 News NOW

Problems in system leave sex offenders loose on the street

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LAS VEGAS -- Some sexual predators are gaming the system and could be putting local children at risk, according to parole and probation officers.

The Department of Public Safety monitors about a 1,000 sex offenders in southern Nevada but some of those offenders fail to check in and are loose on the streets. Officers say there is one case where a sex offender was not seen or heard from for more than six months. It  was only a matter of luck that the offender was found on the Las Vegas Strip and arrested.

Steve McNeill is a convicted sex offender. Parole officers say he molested an 8-year-old girl in a swimming pool. After years on lifetime supervision, he vanished for seven months.

Parole and probation officers didn't know where he was or what he was doing. McNeill was in court Monday for multiple violations including having no address, failing to report, and being kicked out of counseling. He told the judge it was his parole officer's fault.

"It is not that I didn't want to comply with parole and probation, I did for years,

I just didn't want to comply with her. She was unreasonable," McNeill said.

Sgt. Brian Zana with parole and probations says McNeill is an example of what is wrong with the lifetime supervision system. It can take months to get an arrest warrant for an offender and then take even longer to go through the judicial process. Often during that time, sex offenders are released on their own recognizance.

"Traditionally, they are OR'd (released on own recognizance) at their 72-hour hearing. They are released to the street, no bail set, and they go, 'look, I'm back on the street why would I report to that P.O. (parole officer) guy, if there are no consequences for my actions?'" Sgt. Zana said.

In court, McNeill's former therapist testified he showed signs he could strike again.

"He hadn't changed his thinking pattern, but he had completed the hard topics of the course. The things we can measure like the homework and things like that, but his thinking pattern had not changed," Marcia Lee, marriage and family therapist, said.

McNeill begged his lawyer to argue he be released. The attorney did ask, but in this case, the judge decided McNeill would be an exception to the rule.

He will remain in jail for his court proceedings.

Sgt. Zana with parole and probation hopes legislation to be introduced in the new session will put some more teeth behind lifetime supervision and get more sex offenders off the street.

If Steve McNeill is convicted for violating his lifetime supervision it would be a felony and he could face up to five years in prison.

His next court date is May 7.

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