The Justice Department plans a national registry of sex offenders that would allow Internet users to check all the state databases in a single search, reports the Washington Post. Officials said the Web site is being created in response to complaints from victims’ rights groups and some lawmakers that dangerous sex predators were often evading detection by moving across state lines.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, in a speech at the National Press Club announcing the initiative, said Justice would aim to have a working Web site linked to 20 states within 60 days. The remaining states would be added by fall, he said. “We must keep parents and communities informed and engaged,” Gonzales said. “With this technology, every citizen and law enforcement officer will be able to search the latest information for the identity and location of known sex offenders.” All but two states now have some sort of sex offender registry, but calls for a nationwide database have gained support in the wake of several high-profile crimes involving multiple jurisdictions. Meanwhile, the Newark Star-Ledger reports that New Jersey’s Internet sex offender registry, online since 2002, “remains at best a work in progress, full of variations and discrepancies raising questions about its accuracy and usefulness.”