The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to cross-check a list of convicted sex offenders against a list of those who registered for federal aid after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, reports the Washington Post. Local law enforcement officials said the work has still not begun. The cross-checking is important because convicted sex offenders, who might be among the hundreds of thousands of evacuees, must be made to register, in compliance with state and federal laws. Louisiana has provided surrounding states with names the 1,340 convicted sex offenders and of the 10,000 parolees who were registered in New Orleans before Katrina hit in late August.
Civil liberties groups have opposed wholesale background checks on all Katrina evacuees but have not fought the concept of cross-checking databases for individuals of concern. On Oct. 13, Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, the Coast Guard chief of staff leading the federal response to Katrina, told District Attorney Susan D. Reed of Bexar County, Tx., that FEMA will begin cross-checking its database for sex offenders and parolees. An asstant to Reed said yesterday: “We’re hearing a lot of pretty words, but nothing is happening. Basically, FEMA is aiding and abetting these people as they hide from law enforcement.”