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Assembly paves way for an online sex offender registry

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    NMU         NEW JERSEY         Freedom of Information         Dec 15, 2000    

Assembly paves way for an online sex offender registry

  • A bill would give full public access to addresses of major sex offenders after a state constitutional referendum reversed a legally endorsed practice of barring full disclosure of the addresses in order to protect offenders’ “privacy rights.”

New Jersey is one step closer to an online sex offender registry after a bill sailed through the General Assembly on Dec. 11 by a 68-0 margin. The Garden State would join 25 others that have offender information accessible from a government website. The bill moves to the Senate, where leaders have indicated their support. Gov. Christine Todd Whitman also reportedly approves the measure, according to The (Bergen County) Record.

If signed into law, the bill would require creation of a website where the public can view the names, addresses, photographs, physical descriptions, and convictions of medium- and high-risk sex offenders. A second website would allow someone to search for a low risk sex offender by entering the offender’s name and other identifying facts, such as a Social Security number. The pending legislation also allows real estate agents to disclose the location of sex offenders to prospective home buyers.

The action by the assembly, which had 10 members abstain, follows strong voter approval of an amendment to the state constitution that eliminates sex offenders’ rights of privacy in release of personal information. The referendum was placed on the November ballot after a court opinion that restricted the release of the exact address of offenders because it found that offenders do have a privacy right in their home addresses.

Currently, residents are only notified of medium- and high-risk sex offender whereabouts if a judge decides the offender poses a risk to them. The location of low-risk sex offenders is only known to local law enforcement offices.

(A. 5) CC

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