Missouri defense attorneys worry that new information on sex offenders required to be made public could help people locate and harm them. Citing last month’s killings of two men listed on Maine’s Internet sex offender registry, Daniel Dodson, a board member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said that at least one of them is “dead because there was information on the Web that allowed a vigilante to track him down.” The online database managed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol now includes an offender’s name, address, crime committed ,and photo, and is searchable by name, street, city, county and ZIP code.
A requirement under a bill passed last week expands the information to include an address for where an offender works or attends school, vehicle description and license plate number, physical description, and other identifying details. “People have been very clear that they are just not sensitive to the privacy rights of the sexual predators,” said Sen. John Loudon, who proposed requiring vehicle identification. He said concerns about people taking the law into their hands are overblown. “If you’re determined to track somebody, if you’re a vigilante, this isn’t going to matter because there’s enough publicly available,” he said. “It gives the general public greater access to know where legitimate threats are to the safety of their children.”