National Sex Offender Registry
“The Department of Justice is committed to working with our state and local partners to keep our communities safe from sexual predators. As part of this initiative, the Department has launched a nationwide, Internet-based, searchable Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Registry website. The silent sex offender can be just as dangerous as notorious neighborhood gang members, and because of this we must keep parents and communities informed and engaged.
“The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Registry will provide one-stop access to registries from all 50 states and the District of Columbia by the end of the year. With this technology, every citizen will be able to search the latest information for the identity and location of known sex offenders. Sharing information with concerned citizens and parents is an integral part of our strategy to protect communities from these predators who wish to harm the most vulnerable among us.” U.S. Attorney General.
State sex-offender registration and notification programs are designed, in general, to include information about offenders who have been convicted of a “criminal offense against a victim who is a minor” or a “sexually violent offense,” as specified in the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (“the Wetterling Act”) – more specifically, information about persons convicted of offenses involving sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of children, and persons convicted of rape and rape-like offenses (regardless of the age of the victim), respectively. 42 U.S.C. § 14071. Members of the public are advised, however, that publicly-accessible Internet sites established by different states may not be comparable with respect to the comprehensiveness of offender-related information that is made available for public disclosure. Members of the public should be aware that not all state Internet sites provide for public disclosure of information about all sex-offenders who reside, work, or attend school in the state. For example, a given state may limit public disclosure over its web site of information concerning offenders who have been determined to be high-risk, while another state may provide for wider disclosure of offender information but make no representation as to risk level of specific offenders. In sum, members of the public may be able to obtain certain types of information about specific offenders who reside, work, or attend school in the state and have been convicted of one or more of the types of offenses specified below, depending on the specific parameters of a given State’s public notification program.
In the Wetterling Act, “criminal offense against a victim who is a minor” refers to state offenses that are comparable to or exceed the following range of offenses: kidnapping/false imprisonment of a minor (except by a parent), criminal sexual conduct toward a minor, solicitation of a minor to engage in sexual conduct, use of a minor in a sexual performance, solicitation of a minor to practice prostitution, any conduct that by its nature is a sexual offense against a minor, production or distribution of child pornography, or an attempt to commit any of these offenses at a State’s discretion. 42 U.S.C. § 14071(a)(3)(A). The Wetterling Act definition of “sexually violent offense” refers to any criminal offense in a range of offenses specified by State law that is comparable to or exceeds the range of offenses encompassed by aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse or an offense that involves engaging in physical contact with another person with an intent to commit aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse. 42 U.S.C. § 14071 (a)(3)(B). And, the Wetterling Act defines “sexually violent predator” to mean “a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses.” 42 U.S.C. § 14071(a)(3)(C).
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