Correction issued below:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s one of the busiest areas in Albuquerque, surrounded by shopping, a skate park, and several schools and parks. So why is a registered sex offender living out of his car in The Home Depot parking lot? One might assume he must be breaking the rules, but he hasn’t done anything wrong.
Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Jeffrey Scott Hunter oversees the department’s sex offender tracking unit. He says people are often surprised and angry to learn that once an offender is finished with probation or parole, there are no restrictions about where that person can register to live.
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In 2004, Rene Anthony Barela was convicted of criminal sexual contact with a minor. His official address is in his car in the parking lot of Home Depot, located at 10200 Coors Bypass NW. In 2002, David Calderon was convicted of criminal sexual contact of a minor. His registered address is Los Altos Park near Eubank and I-40. These two are just a few of the 40 homeless registered sex offenders in Bernalillo County, many of whom live in commercial areas or parks.
State Representative Moe Maestas helped craft New Mexico’s sex offender registration laws as they stand today. Maestas says the changes made by the legislature in 2013 closed a loophole that essentially allowed homeless offenders not to register since they do not have a permanent residential address. Despite criticism and concern, Maestas argues the law is sound and does its job. “The sex offender registry is solely for the purpose of monitoring and tracking… nothing more, nothing less,” said Maestas. He says there is no talk at the Roundhouse about further amending the sex offender registration laws.
BCSO says homeless offenders don’t give them any more trouble than anyone else who’s supposed to register. They just want to make sure everyone who is supposed to register does. “It’s when they don’t comply that our job is difficult,” said Hunter.
BCSO says the number of offenders in the county continues to grow steadily, and as of now, six detectives are responsible for keeping tabs on the county’s 1,300 offenders.
Correction: In a previous version of this story, KRQE stated Rene Anthony Barela’s address was listed in the parking lot of Cottonwood Mall. That is incorrect. The address he lists is the Home Depot parking lot, located at 10200 Coors Bypass NW.