Justice Web site to unify sex offender tracking

The Justice Department plans to launch a nationwide, searchable sex offender registry by the end of this year, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said today.

'The National Sex Offender Registry will provide one-stop access to registries from the 48 states that have them,' according to Gonzales' statement during a National Press Club lunch in Washington today. 'And we will work with the two remaining states to be sure that everyone gets on board with this important public notification system.'

Gonzales said the new registry would go live with information from 20 states in 60 days, with the additional states added in the following months.

The registry reportedly is intended to provide information about whether a sex offender has moved from state to state.

State participation is voluntary. Oregon and Rhode Island lack sex offender registries, according to press reports.

Gonzales said the federal site would allow the general public and law enforcement workers to determine the current location of sex offenders. The various states' sex offender registries offer the names, photos and histories of sex offenders, but they vary in the amount of information offered and the quality of geographic search capability they provide. Some local systems use sophisticated geospatial systems to assist users [see GCN story].

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