|OFFICER SHARES INSIGHTS ON SEX OFFENDERS|
|October 04, 2002 11:00 pm|
By DAVID COURTLAND
Pilot Staff Writer
Most convicted sex offenders resume normal lives after completing required treatment programs, according to a Curry County community corrections official.
"The community has gotten up in arms about this," said Clint Laird, a parole and probation officer.
Laird was referring to increase awareness and concern about sex offenders in the Brookings-Harbor community following the recent murder of Carol Zimmerman by a convicted rapist.
"What they're not realizing is, a sex offender might be the teenager who got lucky on Saturday night."
In fact, over half of sex offenders are teenagers, said Laird, and the number who are considered dangerous is relatively small.
"That's why they're given the predatory status," said Laird. "It's not a subjective classification, you have to earn it."
To be classified as a predator by Oregon's parole board, a convicted felon must fit a specific profile, scoring high on a series of test questions.
One of the parolees Laird supervises who is classed as a predator is Jerry Allen Miller, who was arrested on Sept. 23 for violating parole.
Miller, who was working temporarily for the Forest Service when he was arrested, failed to tell Laird he had moved out of a Payne Road trailer park.
Still in Curry County jail pending a hearing, Miller, who was convicted in 1995 of sexually abusing a girl under the age of 12, said he is a victim of corrections officials using him as a scapegoat.
"It was a setup, it was grossly unnecessary," said Miller. "They're trying to make themselves look better after the mistake they made with Billy Preuitt."
Billy Gene Preuitt was the convicted rapist suspected of killing his neighbor, Carol Zimmerman, after living on parole in Brookings for nearly two years.
Several days after she was found shot to death in her Old County Road home, Preuitt was found dead in Zimmerman's car near Susanville in Northern California, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning.
"They didn't supervise Billy Preuitt, that's why he was glad to be down here," said Miller, who also said Preuitt had a drug and alcohol problem that went untreated.
But Laird said that Preuitt transferred legally to Curry County, where he had relatives, a requirement for convicted felons to move from one county to another.
"He had completed a drug treatment program in Marion County and was being monitored by his employer," said Laird, who admits he is puzzled by Preuitt's behavior.
"You look back and ask yourself what could have done, that's a normal human reaction," said Laird. "But in real terms, we had no indication there was a serious problem."
Meanwhile Miller, who still denies he has committed any crimes, says he is being harassed by Laird and Sheriff's deputies.
"Every time I try to get ahead a little they lock me in here," said Miller, who says he is being punished for appealing his conviction.
"The only crime I ever committed was not having enough money," said Miller, who lost his appeal. "I couldn't get a good defense."
But Laird, who points out Miller has violated his parole the same way twice before, says there's good reason Miller is being closely monitored.
"Mr. Miller may feel he's being harassed, but he's earned that special attention," said Laird. "I think anybody who looked at his record would agree with that."
Laird notes that after December, 2003, Miller will be off parole and beyond the supervision of authorities.
"Now that scares me," said Laird.