Police have lost track of one in 4 of the sex offenders who are supposed to be registered, according to a survey of law enforcement officials responsible for sex offender registries in all 50 states.
The survey was conducted by Parents for Megan’s Law, a group based in Stony Brook, N.Y., that recently received a federal grant to establish a national hotline to provide information about the lists, reports ABCNews.com.
Law enforcement agencies across the country are aware of the flaw. In state after state, police, sheriffs and other agencies are calling for changes – whether it means updating computer software, increasing the coordination among local lists, increasing funding so departments can have officers assigned to keep track of sex offenders, or putting teeth in laws to punish absconders.
The extent of the problem was dramatized this summer in California, when a state audit of the sex offender registry found that some 23,000 people on the list were unaccounted for because their records had not been updated in at least one year. The records of 14,000 of those had not been updated in at least five years.
That audit was carried out after the state had mounted a concerted effort to locate missing sex offenders, after a news report in January that California law enforcement had lost track of about 39 percent of the more than 70,000 people on the list.