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States use different methods of identifying sex offenders

February 03, 2001

States use different methods of identifying sex offenders



By ANDREW SCHOTZ / Staff Writer


Federal law requires that states notify communities about sex offenders, but it doesn't spell out how to do it, creating a hodgepodge of methods across the country.

Most states now use Web sites to disseminate information about sex offenders and their crimes.

Others make registries available for inspection, requiring the public to come to the police for information.

Records can be inspected on a CD-ROM in California, which also has a 900 hotline.

Some states provide general facts about an offender, such as name, age and address, and possibly a photograph. Some add more information, such as aliases or identifying scars.

Indiana includes the Social Security number and driver's license number.

Utah lists the offender's current vehicles by year, model and color.

North Carolina gives out past addresses.

The public can search for information by typing in a subdivision name in Delaware and can check contiguous zip codes in Virginia.

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A summary of the crime and the victim, in general terms, is often added.

Minnesota states whether the crime involved exposure, fondling or penetration, but New York omits the "explicit nature of the modus operandi."

New York appears to be the only state requiring visitors to type their name and address to get access to its Web site. A watchdog group, Parents for Megan's Law, objects to this and makes information available at its own Web site.

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