Registered Sex Offender Next Door

Registeres sex offenders could be living right next door to you? You can locate registered sex offenders in your neighborhood by using a sex offender registry on the internet. A friend told me about sex offender registries when she worked for the legal services agency in our town. She had used one to check for sex offenders in her neighborhood and was surprised how many registered sex offenders showed up on the map of her neighborhood and the surrounding area. I Googled ‘sex offender registry’ and got a list of local, state, and national registers.

I want to give a word of caution about the term sex offender before I go any further. Obviously there’s good reason to be concerned when you hear the words sex offender but it doesn’t always mean what we think it does. To get on a list, offenders have to be convicted of sex related crimes ranging from criminal sexual conduct to a lewd act with a minor. In at least one area of the country, people on the list are broken into two groups of predator and offender.

Dozens of law enforcement agencies across the nation use a national sex offender registry called OffenderWatch. The OffenderWatch sex offender registry is regarded as the nations leading registered sex offender management tool. This database is also recognized as providing the most accurate and timely information available. OffenderWatch enables law enforcement agencies to provide real time information and email alerts to citizens that sign up for the service. Sex offender laws doesn’t stop at sexual activity, it also includes voyeurism and transmitting pornographic material, which is popular among teens that share it over cellphones and refer to it as sexting.

Major Sex Offender Laws

1994: Federal Wetterling Act requires states to register sex offenders or lose federal funds. Prior to this law, only five states had registries. Today, all 50 states do.

1996: Megan’s Law mandates community notification when a sex offender is released.

1996: California became the first state to allow chemical castration of sex offenders. Today, eight states allow castration, either chemical or surgical.

2005: Florida passed the Jessica Lunsford Act that provides mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years for the worst molesters, lifetime electronic monitoring and the death penalty for sexual predators who kill. Similar bills are pending in other states, including South Carolina.

Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Conference of State Legislatures

You can use these sex offender registries to search for registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. To use a registry, you have to enter information about a location and or an individual in question that the registry uses to return a map of your location with markers indicating the address of record of sex offenders in the area you specified. Although you can use a sex offender registry to locate registered sex offenders in a specified area, national and local statistics indicate that more often than not, the offender is someone the victim knows. Of course children and the elderly are the most vulnerable when it comes to sex offenders. Sex offender registries are tools to help protect them but registries have to be combined with vigilance, educating our children and common sense to protect them from the sex offender next door.