Tuesday, June 27th, 2006
Time to Revisit Your State’s Sex Offender Registry
When I bought my house four years ago I checked for sex offenders.
Back then I had to make an appointment at a police station, prove my identity, wait 24 hours while a background check was conducted, and then view the registry at the police station with an officer looking over my shoulder the entire time. The registry was almost useless because I was limited to searching by zip code or county, which in my rural area covers a wide region.
When California’s Megan’s Law registry became a web site a couple years ago I could now look up offenders on a street-by-street basis pinpointed on a map. The only delay was having to click a disclaimer box.
There were about 20 offenders in my town, but if that number shocks you, you’ve never looked to see how many offenders live in your town. Twenty is low. The bottom line for me was that no offenders lived in my general vicinity.
Yesterday a neighbor mentioned that another neighbor thought she saw a female sex offender walking on our street. I was dubious. Who memorizes the faces of sex offenders? How many offenders are women?
So I revisited the California registry. It turns out a female offender has moved into our neighborhood, one street over. "Lewd or lascivious acts with child under 14 years." We share a backyard corner fence post. We might have borrowed a cup of sugar over that fence.
Looking at the database further, I spotted an offender who works at the university where I used to work. "Continuous sexual abuse of a child." I see him often on my garage sale circuit.
Looking up my childhood home, there are more than 120 offenders
displayed within the first map grid, probably a few square miles,
including one who moved onto my childhood street. Not to scare you, but
they are everywhere.
Safety experts recommend testing your fire alarm batteries twice a
year, coinciding with the switch between standard and daylight savings
I suggest adding "revisit your state’s sex offender registry" to the
list of things to do twice a year. When I was a kid, I played outside
in my neighborhood unattended every day. Something tells me my daughter
will never leave my side.
Here is a list of state sex offender registries
maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sorry Canada, as
near as I can figure, some provinces have registries, but they are not
Caution: The US Department of Justice’s composite site for all state registries is outdated. The offender in my neighborhood is not listed.