Federal investigators determined that the national sex registry is lacking information on 22% of state level sex offenders. They are regularly absent of SSNs, DMV info and basic addresses.
"As a result, members of the public will not have the information they need to assess the threat posed by sex offenders in their communities," the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General cautioned.
As sex registry information becomes more widely accessible via the Internet, investigators are still concerned about the databases used to monitor the nation's 644,000 registered sex offenders. There are also those questions about whether the stigmatizing registries go too far.
For example, an advocacy group called Texas Voices is trying to change that state's sex-offender registration requirements so that they don't cover so many crimes. Other critics contend that Congress lacks the constitutional authority to require sex offenders to register anew when they move into new states.
U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy of Montana ruled last June, when he struck down the requirement "Tracking sex offenders may enhance public safety, but any effect on interstate commerce from requiring sex offenders to register is too attenuated to survive (constitutional) scrutiny"
Multiple registries have sprung in the last dozen years. The FBI maintains the National Sex Offenders Registry, and all 50 states maintain their own registries. However, they differ.
California leads the nation in registered sex offenders, with about 114,000. This is more than twice the number of sex offenders registered in Texas or Florida, and ten times the number registered in North Carolina. California allows searches by proximity to parks or schools. Florida allows the public to search for e-mail addresses used by registered sex offenders. North Carolina locates sex offenders by "longitude and latitude."
Some state registries aren't yet compatible with the national FBI registry. Some state files were rejected because they lacked information that the national database requires. Sex offender records are "inconsistent and complete," investigators concluded
"Neither law enforcement officials nor the public can rely on the registries for identifying registered sex offenders, particularly those who are fugitives," investigators noted.
Occasionally, officials kept warrant information out of the national crime database to avoid the expense of extraditing undesirable fugitives. "Some communities do not want fugitive sex offenders returned to them, even for prosecution," the investigators indicated, adding that "we also were told states may not want to reveal that there are a large number of fugitive sex offenders in their jurisdictions."
Under a 2006 law, states have until 2009 to meet new sex-offender registration standards. The investigators aren't completely critical in their new 110-page report assessing progress in tracking sex offenders. They lauded the US Marshals Service for increasing investigations and arrests of fugitives. In 2007, that agency conducted 2,621 fugitive sex offender investigations as opposed to 390 in 2004.
At any rate I am glad we have this registry to complain about, while it may lack 100% accuracy it is a valuable tool for reference purposes.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!
Patrick L. Baird