What is a Sex Offender Registry?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 16 February 2020
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A sex offender is an individual who has committed a sex crime and is often referred to as a sexual predator. These crimes include all forms of rape, sexual child abuse, and maintaining child pornography. Most states require individuals convicted of sex crimes to register with the local state sex offender registry program.

Megan’s law is term used for the laws within the United States that require local law enforcement authorities to publish sex offenders in a sex offender registry. This law is named after Megan Nicole Kanka, who at age seven was kidnapped, rapped, and murdered by a sex offender. Each state determines what personal information will be displayed on the registry. This information typically includes a photo, name, age, and date of the offender's conviction.

The sex offender registry is a critical element for managing the safety of children. Homeowners should review their local sex offender registries often to manage the risk of encounters with sexual predators. These predators are hard to detect as they are often normal-acting individuals who prey on people that meet their fetish profile.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a general purpose website that searches for sex offenders in all 50 states. This website allows the searching of an individual by name, which will automatically search all sex offender registries across the United States. In addition, DOJ has provided web links to each state's website for general searches of all predators within a specific jurisdiction.

The sex offender is not limited to the United States. Many predators use the Internet and international sex trade to commit heinous crimes. The sex offender registry may eventually expand to an international realm where sex offenders must notify law enforcement when they try to travel out of the country. This would warn destination countries of potential predators arriving in their area.

Each state has specific guidelines on how convicted sex offenders should update the registry. Typically, registered sex offenders are required to update their information annually. Some sex offenders must update more often, especially if they move. This tool is a method of monitoring where a sex offender is currently living.

There are many rules that govern the release of child sex offenders into society. These include restricting offenders from living near schools, playgrounds, and other areas that children typically interact. If a known predator breaks these rules he can be arrested.

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Post 2

I am in favor of the sex offender registry in principle. However, every person needs to be examined on an individual basis. A 16 year old having consensual sex with his 15 year-old girlfriend, who is legally underage, does not deserve to be judged the same as convicted child molesters.

Post 1

I wish sex offenders were never released back into society, but since they are, I am in favor of an offender database. When sex offenders are required to registry, maybe some crimes are prevented. At least, we have the ability to identify them, and take precautions.

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