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Easing families' minds: Marine Corps prohibits sex offenders from occupying, accessing government housing

6 Feb 2009 | Cpl. Margaret Hughes

Whether children are splashing in the community pool during the summer months, walking the family dog or playing in their own back yard, parents want to feel secure knowing their children are safe in a military community.

Headquarters Marine Corps under direction from the Secretary of the Navy recently published a policy letter stating that all registered sex offenders are now prohibited from occupying or accessing Marine Corps government-owned, leased or privatized family housing. The SECNAV letter was sent Oct. 7.

“We want service members to know that while they are fighting for their country, their family members are taken care of back home,” said Ken Tinquist, the Combat Center’s housing officer.

According to the policy letter, all service members applying for government housing and every member of their family who will be residing with them will now be screened using available sex offender registries prior to placement.

Although service members are screened prior to enlistment, they will be screened again because circumstances could change during military service and for a variety of other reasons, Tinquist said. 

All members living in housing aged 14 and older will be screened, Tinquist said. To comply with the new policy, Family Housing has already started to screen everyone currently in government housing and Lincoln Military Housing.

“This is not a witch hunt,” Tinquist said. “We are not trying to pry into people’s lives. This is for the protection of children and their families.”

Guests are also subject to being screened if they reside in the house for over 30 days, Tinquist said. They are required to submit a letter stating why they will be living in that residence for the time period and provide information for the screening process. Guests residing in Lincoln Military Housing over 30 days must also provide $50 for the background check.

“This not only heightens awareness for our families, but also brings a sense of security in knowing that the Marine Corps is focusing on the safety of our children,” said Denise Cullum, the 7th Marine Regiment family readiness officer.

According to the policy letter, if an applicant or family member is identified on a sex offender registry, their application will be immediately referred to the respective chain of command, including the Staff Judge Advocate and the installation commander. The package will be reviewed at each level and weighed against mitigating circumstances.

After consideration of all the facts provided, the installation commander can then decide if a waiver request is warranted to the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps of Installation and Logistics.

“Although the Marine Corps policy letter brings a measure of security, it doesn’t prevent sex offenders, unknown to our families, from coming on base to visit for activities,” Cullum said. She advised to always be aware of where your children are at all times.

For more information about the new policy, contact Family Housing at 830-6611.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms