Gene and Camille Valentine moved with their two daughters to the Boson suburbs last year partly because they knew that four convicted sex offenders were living on their street, says the Boston Globe. Now the Valentines are shocked afer learning on a Web site that four convicted sex offenders are working or living near their new location. The state launched the site after a Supreme Judicial Court decision allowed it to publish mug shots, home and work addresses, and criminal histories of the convicted sex offenders guilty of the most serious crimes and determined to pose a threat of repeat offenses.
The website, www.mass.gov/sorb, has been inundated; on Aug. 5, state officials reported 250,000 visitors. The flood of information has shaken some parents’ belief that their suburban neighborhoods are safe and caused others to wonder how much knowledge about sex offenders they should share with their young children. Some parents are keeping the information to themselves, not wanting to scare children. Others refuse to use a Web site they believe violates civil liberties. Some are calling their children over to computer screens to glimpse the faces of sexual predators in their midst. The site was launched Aug. 4 after the state’s high court rejected a lawsuit by five convicted sex offenders, who contended that putting the information on the Internet would make it harder for them to rehabilitate themselves and leave them vulnerable to vigilantes.