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
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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