The New Jersey Department of Corrections introduced the newest addition to its Web site -- an online offender search engine -- at a press conference scheduled on Monday, Dec. 16, at the Harris Auditorium on the grounds of the department's Central Office headquarters in Trenton.
The search engine enables anyone with Internet access to obtain information on offenders directly from the NJDOC Web site (www.state.nj.us/corrections).
"The search engine provides an important public service that will be of particular value to victims of a crime," said NJDOC Commissioner Devon Brown, who noted that New Jersey is the 23 rd state to provide an offender search engine on the Internet. "By providing victims with the ability to instantaneously learn the status and location of an offender, it underscores the fact that there are, indeed, rights available to them through the criminal justice system.
"Furthermore," he continued, "the search engine links enable law enforcement agencies, family members and other interested parties to view information on offenders, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
The commissioner added that the telephone system that has been -- and will continue to be -- used to locate offenders is available only during normal business hours.
Commissioner Brown was among the speakers at the press conference. He was joined by Peter C. Harvey, first assistant attorney general and director of the Division of Criminal Justice in the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety; Bobbi DeLaRoi, coordinator of the Burlington County Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy and incoming president of the state's Association of Crime Victim Advocates, Inc.; James Reilly, chief deputy of the Department of Law and Public Safety's Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy; Mercer County Prosecutor Daniel Giaquinto; Tim Williams, acting chief of the NJ/NY Regional Fugitive Task Force; and James Plousis, United States Marshal for the District of New Jersey.
Information available on the offender search engine includes such specifics as name, discreet numeric identifiers, current location, parole eligibility date and max date. Sentencing information, admission and release dates, and known aliases also are displayed. The most recent photograph is included, if available -- although all offenders released prior to December 2000 do not have an image on the search engine.
The search engine has approximately 97,000 offender records, including those who are currently housed in Department of Corrections facilities as well as those who have been paroled or released from an NJDOC prison.
An offender's most recent booking information is listed. If an offender completes his or her sentence and subsequently commits another crime, the previous data will be replaced by updated booking information. However, if an offender is on parole and commits another crime and/or violates parole, the new data will be added to the existing booking information.
The search engine provides two links: an escapee link and an offender search link. The escapee link, which Brown said will be "tremendously beneficial in our efforts to recapture fugitives," allows the user to view a list of the offenders currently on escape status from a major facility as well as walkways from a halfway house. On average, the escape/walkaway page will include about 220 entries, which represents less than .01 percent of the offender population.