News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

April 9, 2014

EDITORIAL: Dangers lurking among us

Added protections needed to keep unsuspecting public safe

TERRE HAUTE — Hardly a week goes by without multiple stories being published in this newspaper detailing the arrests, court proceedings, convictions or sentencings of individuals involved in sex crimes against children or young teens. It’s a disturbing trend that underscores the ever-present dangers that exist where we may least expect them.

But one story that emerged last week contained a troubling twist. The EconoLodge motel on the city’s south side near the Interstate 70/U.S. 41 interchange was home to more than a dozen registered sex offenders. One of them is alleged to have grabbed a 5-year-old girl who was playing in the area and forced her into his room.

The girl’s adult family members, who were living at the motel, were alerted by another child and intervened. Police were called and the man, Timothy R. Blazier, 49, was arrested and has been charged with several felony sex crimes, including child molesting and attempted rape.

According to the sex offender registry, there are approximately 200 registered sex offenders in Vigo County. But they tend to be scattered throughout the county. We could find no location similar to the EconoLodge where so many of the offenders were clustered in one place, an establishment that was also open to providing either overnight or extended-stay rooms to the general public, including families with children.

What’s more, the Indiana Department of Correction had an agreement with the motel to pay the short-term lodging costs for several offenders who were recently released from prison and in the process of re-entering society.

As it turns out, Blazier was not among the EconoLodge residents receiving financial assistance for his lodging from the DOC. Still, the scope of the situation demands attention from both the public and private sector officials and the agencies involved.

It is not unreasonable to insist that aggressive consideration to public safety be a factor when allowing registered sex offenders to live in lodging establishments that are open to the public.

A DOC spokesperson told the Tribune-Star that EconoLodge ownership had informed the agency it would no longer participate in the financial assistance program. That means that four individuals in the re-entry program must be moved to another location. We don’t know if EconoLodge will continue to house registered sex offenders not involved in the state assistance program.

We understand that convicted offenders who’ve served sentences are entitled to an opportunity to re-establish themselves in a community. Fairness dictates they get a chance to become law-abiding citizens. The community, however, is also entitled to protection.

There are restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live, and the EconoLodge apparently was a legally qualified residential establishment. But should it be? If a motel such as this can provide lodging for families with children, shouldn’t people be made aware of their surroundings so they can evaluate their lodging choices or take precautions? And shouldn’t the state DOC have added restrictions on using such establishments if they are open to the transient public or temporary residents? We think so.

As it stands, the only way a community knows where registered sex offenders live is by periodically reviewing the sex offender registry (www.sheriffalerts.com/in/Vigo). But in some cases, such as that which exists at the EconoLodge, that’s just not enough.

Both the state DOC and private lodging businesses should be required to do more.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Raw: Smoke, Explosions Fill Gaza Skyline Obama: 'Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins'
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity