Web sex offender registry enhanced

A law signed by Gov. Matt Blunt in June requires Web site updates.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:16 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri residents now have an upgraded tool to find registered sex offenders in their area. The governor unveiled a more comprehensive online sex-offender registry Monday. The changes, passed by the legislature, include more descriptive information about the offenders and the offenses.

The registry now includes offenders’ names and any aliases, dates of birth, home and work addresses and vehicle information. Physical characteristics such as height, weight and eye color as well as special identifiers, such as tattoos and scars, are also included on the Web site.

Offenders not in compliance with registration requirements are identified by a red exclamation point.

“We are not going to tolerate people not being compliant,” said state Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit. “We are going to bring them to justice, and although they are out and may have paid the price for whatever their original offense is, they have an ongoing obligation to the public to remain compliant with our sex-offender registry laws.”

The updates to the registry were implemented because of a law passed by the General Assembly earlier this year and signed by Gov. Blunt in June. The law created stricter sentencing requirements for certain offenders and established consent is not a defense for any sex offense involving a child under age 12.

The law also required the Missouri State Highway Patrol to operate a toll-free telephone number for residents without Internet access to call to obtain information regarding registered sexual offenders. The number, answered by employees of the Highway Patrol, was also unveiled Monday at the press conference.

The updated registry includes a map function that allows users to find sexual offenders living or working within 1,000 feet to 15 miles of any address.

“That will be a significant improvement,” Blunt said. “I’ve actually used the registry myself as a parent, and it does take a little bit of thought when you look at all those addresses to figure out how close some of those sexual offenders might be to your home.”

Not all registered sexual offenders will have to provide the new information. In June, the state Supreme Court ruled sexual offenders convicted before the list was created in 1995 are not required to register.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department has been maintaining its online sex offender registry since 2003. Maj. Tom Reddin of the Sheriff’s Department, said the Internet site is popular. More than 20,700 people have visited the site this year. The Web site includes the name, address, offense type, victim type, map and photo of registered sexual offenders living in the county.

“It’s a pretty accurate and comprehensive list I think by any standards in the state,” Reddin said.

The information on the Web site stays up to date.

“Any time the information is amended, changed, taken out or added to our system it is a live update to the Web site,” Reddin said. “So if somebody moved out of our jurisdiction and they notified us of their move out of our jurisdiction, as soon as we enter that information into our system their name is taken off the Web site registry.”

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