Sexual Offender Registry Laws

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What are Sexual Offender Registries?

Sexual Offender Registries are lists that states use to keep track of persons convicted of certain sexual abuse offenses and crimes. States are required to maintain the registries by federal law.

What is Listed in Sexual Offender Registries?

Although different states use different criteria, generally the lists include persons convicted of:

Registries typically list the names, addresses where the offender lives, and in some states, the crimes which they committed. Offenders who are homeless are often not punished for failure to provide an address, though parole boards typically demand some kind of listing of residency, even if the location is “bridge behind Safeway store”. 

Who Has Access to Sexual Offender Registries?

States must make the lists available to:

Some states have passed laws making the lists available to the public, and in other states, the lists are available because all state records are open to the public. In some cases, states' lists are available on-line.

What are the Effects of Sexual Offender Registries?

The purpose of these lists is to provide families with information about persons who may be a danger to their children, based on those person's past crimes.

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and some convicted sexual offenders have challenged the state laws on a number of grounds:

Most state courts, however, have held that the public's interest in protecting the safety of its members outweighs any negative impact on sex offenders' interests.

What Restrictions Do Registered Sexual Offenders Face?

Registered sex offenders who have been to prison have the same restrictions as other people on parole.  In addition, those on the registry are barred from living, working or approaching locations children may frequent: schools, parks, stadiums, churches and other places. Restrictions differ between states and may be updated from time to time. Please check your state for the most recent restrictions.

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Last Modified: 07-05-2012 03:47 PM PDT

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