Maryland posts info about sex offenders on the Web

Maryland posts info about sex offenders on the Web

Maryland's Public Safety and Correctional Services Department yesterday officially launched its first Internet sex offender registry at www.dpscs.state.md.us/sor.

The site lists the names, addresses, photos and offenses of 2,282 people convicted of sex crimes in the state, said Leonard A. Sipes Jr., the department's director of public information. The list includes anyone who committed a sex offense, dating back to October 1995.

But a bill recently passed by the General Assembly would bump up the list's size. The bill requires that the department retroactively add information dating back to 1975 about individuals who have committed certain categories of crimes, Sipes said. The governor has not yet signed the bill, he said, but the registry from which the data would be drawn contains 1.6 million records.

The records, stored on a mainframe in DB2, are secured by firewalls, Sipes said. The registry also links to federal databases such as the FBI's National Crime Information Center.

The state's Information Technology and Communications Division configured the new site to work with all kinds of modems, Sipes said.

The site uses commercially available products, including Microsoft Access and Excel, and Adobe GoLive, said David Spikes, Web content manager for the division.

Photos are stored as JPEGs, Sipes said. Some of the photographs were taken at the time the individual registered with the department, and others were taken at prison or by local law enforcement offices. 'That's one of the problems we've had'a lack of uniformity,' he said. 'We're going to meet with all the law enforcement and correctional agencies in the state and standardize on photo methods.'

The Correctional Services Department updates the data weekly, Sipes said. 'Within a month or so, we'll have real-time updates,' he said.

The first day the site was up, a woman called in to say that she didn't think an offender still lived at the address listed on the site, Spikes said. 'So we could check on that [type of response] right away,' he said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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