Lax Law Prompts Sex Offenders To Live In Nevada


Nevada's 1997 sex offender law is failling short of its promise to heighten public awareness of predatory criminals victimizing women and children, an investigation by the Reno Gazette-Journal found. Megan's laws – ordered by federal mandates after the 1994 assault and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka by a sex offender living near her in New Jersey – have been strengthened by many states in recent years.

Nevada's version is languishing. Among the Gazette-Journal’s conclusions:

* The public is notified of a small percentage of the state's nearly 5,000 known sex offenders, and authorities don't know the whereabouts of nearly 40 percent of the state's sex criminals. Authorities say out-of-state sex offenders are converging on Nevada because of its reputation for lax enforcement of registration and notification laws.

* While other states force offenders to register and post their addresses on Web sites, Nevada only recently launched a Web site – and only because a private group paid for it. Offenders' locations are identified only by ZIP code.

* Nevada law doesn't allow agencies to share information about 70 percent of Nevada's registered sex offenders. Residents, schools, day-care centers, and other places where children congregate never will be told where those 3,249 sex offenders are living.

* Nevada relies on sex offenders voluntarily reporting when they move. The location of 21 of 50 high-risk offenders is unknown because even high-risk offenders are trusted to notify authorities when they move.


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