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spacer New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety
Office of the Attorney General
David Samson, Attorney General

 
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21, 2002
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Chuck Davis or Roger Shatzkin (609) 292-4791


 
 
SEX OFFENDER INTERNET REGISTRY AVAILABLE ONLINE

     TRENTON Attorney General David Samson today announced that the New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry is now online and available to citizens.

     The Sex Offender Internet Registry, available on the Division of State Police's Web site at http://www.njsp.org/info/reg_sexoffend.html , includes pertinent information about convicted sex offenders, including their names, physical descriptions, photographs and the nature of their offenses, that the state is currently allowed to disclose. The registry will include all sex offenders who were designated under Megan's Law as presenting a high risk (tier three) of committing another sex offense, and most offenders determined to pose a moderate risk (tier two) of re-offense.

     At present, the registry only indicates the county in which the listed sex offenders reside. Under law, the site was to contain the street address, town and zip code of sex offenders. In December, a U.S. District Court judge permitted the State to make the Internet registry available to the public while a legal challenge was pending before the court, but restricted that information from being included while the court considers the case. The Attorney General's Office has appealed the judge's ruling and the appeal is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit. In order to comply with the judge's order, State Police, which has responsibility for maintaining the site, had to reconfigure the registry's Web pages. The Attorney General also noted that sex offenders are given a chance to seek review of their tier classification, and they may argue that they qualify under one of the exemptions. Thus, offenders have a chance to seek further review before they are included on the site.

     "The Sex Offender Registry Web site is a work in progress that will ultimately provide critical information to which parents should have access," Samson said. "Armed with a photograph and other relevant information about a sex offender who is likely to commit another offense, parents will be helped in taking necessary precautions to avoid having their children placed in a dangerous situation."

     The New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry was created in response to an amendment to the State Constitution that was voted on by the public in the November 2000 general election. The amendment was approved by nearly 80 percent of the voters.

     A legislative task force was formed to make recommendations as to the type of information and scope of the registry. Legislation incorporating the recommendations of the task force also was enacted on July 23, 2001. In addition to providing the name and picture of sex offenders, the Web site will disclose the offenders' race, height, weight, hair color and distinguishing marks, along with the offenders' tier designation. Other information includes the offenses committed, the place of conviction and the offenders' modus operandi. The site also includes motor vehicle information, such as car make and year and color. The State Police will update the picture of each offender at the time the offender re-registers, which, depending on whether the offender was found to be repetitive and compulsive, is either every three months or annually under the law.

     According to First Assistant Attorney General and Director of Criminal Justice Peter C. Harvey, as of Dec. 31, 2001, there were 7,903 registered sex offenders statewide for purposes of community notification. Of those, 5,599 were placed in a final tier classification. There were 2,386 tier two, or moderate risk, registrants and 160 tier three, or high risk, registrants. The remainder were placed in tier one, for low-risk registrants.

     The Sex Offender Registry allows users to make three types of searches: Geographical (by county only, pending resolution of legal challenge to the use of additional home address information); Individual (to search for offenders by full or partial name or alias); and Advanced Search (which allows searches based on general physical characteristics, such as height, weight, age or hair color). Should the State prevail in the legal challenge, the site would be re-programmed to be geographically searchable by street, town and zip code as well as by county.

     The Internet Sex Offender Registry also will provide materials to:

  • Inform and educate the public about sex offenders,
  • Promote the public's understanding of sex offenders and the problems they face in rehabilitation and reintegration into society,
  • Expand the public's knowledge about Megan's Law, crime prevention and personal safety.

     Each page on the Internet site contains a warning that any person who uses the information on the registry to threaten, intimidate or harass another may be charged criminally.

     "We are counting on members of the public to continue to act responsibly in dealing with Megan's Law notifications in any form, as any untoward acts themselves violate the law," Harvey said. "Acts of vigilantism against a known sex offender will not be tolerated, and the vigilantes will be prosecuted to the fullest possible extent of the law."


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