By Pedro Cruz / Contributing Writer
LBCC Police Lt. Julie Prior said that 17 convicted sex offenders are enrolled at LBCC. California Penal Code Section 290 requires convicted sex offenders who have been released from prison, jail or mental hospital to register with their local police department within five days of their release.
Candice Berks, 19, a nursing major, said sex offenders should be allowed to attend school, but not without constant watch and she believes them to be “sick human beings.” The penal code authorizes the release of necessary and relevant information about serious and high-risk sex offenders to members of the public to protect the safety and general welfare of the people. When asked for the names and types of crimes of the 17 registered sex offenders, Prior said that information will not be released because “the registrants do not pose an imminent threat” to the school. She also added, “The college community will only be notified if a sex offender is posing a risk because they have a right to attend school like any other student.”
Maureen Johnson, 30, a nursing major, said she will be more interested in finding out what type of crime was committed before making a judgment. She said if a pedophile molested a little child she “will have a problem with that” because children are to be “nurtured and not destroyed.” But if the victim were an adult or the crime was a statutory rape, then she will look at the person differently.
Anyone 18 years or older, has a high school diploma or its equivalent or is a current high school student is eligible to enroll, as stated on page five of the school’s catalogue.
Mark Taylor, director of College Advancement, Public Affairs and Governmental Relations for LBCC, said the college is an open-access institution and serves anyone who is eligible to apply and is seeking an education.
Adai Jaimes, 18, a Wilson High School graduate who plans to enroll in the Spring semester, said, “Knowing a registered sex offender can be in the same class as me makes me feel uncomfortable. Hopefully I’ll have a good time at LBCC and I’ll take extra precautions to stay safe.”
Bryan Lam, an associate professor at Cal State Long Beach’s school of social, said victims of sexual assault might experience depression, fear, anger and anxiety. They might also engage in self-destructive behaviors. Further, establishing trust can be a challenge for them, Lam said. If not treated, victims might not be able to maximize their academic potential.
When talking about if he believed students and professors will treat a registered sex offender differently or if the risk of inequality and discrimination exist toward them, Lam said a community of scholars is working on evaluating the needs of sex offenders. He said limited research has been conducted and future research is needed.
Brandon Willet, 20, a criminal justice major, said, “I don’t think much about it. Maybe they are going to school to get them back on the proper path in life. It shouldn’t be too much to worry with the security at the college.”