Sex offender list goes to Internet
Dozens of registered sex offenders live in the Truckee-North Lake Tahoe area, according to information posted on a new Web site operated by the state of California.The Megan’s Law Internet site allows the public to access photos, addresses and other information on more than 60,000 registered sex offenders throughout the state. There are nine men registered in Truckee, according to the http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov Web site, which launched on Dec. 15.The site lists three of the nine as being in violation of their registration requirements. But Detective Karen “Cece” Rose of the Truckee Police Department said two of the three men had moved away from Truckee while the third was heading back to prison for a non-sexual offense.”Everybody that is currently in Truckee is in compliance,” Rose said.According to the Web site, 14 more registered offenders live in Placer County on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe from Kings Beach to Tahoe City.Under the law, offenders must re-register when they move. They also must re-register annually within five days of their birthday. Transient registrants must re-register every 60 days – that will change to every 30 days beginning Jan. 1 – and sexually violent predators must re-register every 90 days. These offenders include individuals convicted of committing a lewd act upon a child under the age of 14, or a sex crime that includes the element of force or fear, according to the California Attorney General’s Office. Home addresses also are provided for persons convicted of two or more sex offenses in separate trials, and those designated by a court as sexually violent predators.”We have not had a high-risk sex offender on our radar screen,” said Truckee police Chief Scott Berry. “Everybody who comes out of prison, jail or probation – we do an extensive interview. We are aware of them.” Megan’s Law, which took effect in 1996, was named after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and killed in 1994 by a habitual sex offender. Prior to the new Internet site, Californians could obtain Megan’s Law information only at a sheriff’s office or a participating police department. Critics, however, said that process was cumbersome and that the information provided was incomplete. More than 40 other states already have online registries.”I think people have a right to know who is living in their neighborhood for the safety of the children,” Berry said, noting that there is a fine line between the public’s “right to know and vigilantism.”While some groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are concerned that publicizing the personal information of offenders violates their privacy and could prompt revenge attacks, Nancy Anderson doesn’t share those fears. Anderson administers the Megan’s Law database for the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department. “I know there are concerns about vigilant(ism) … but the rate of recidivism for these people is very high,” Anderson said. “I tell them we’re not here to make life difficult for them, we’re here to keep them in compliance so we don’t have to come and arrest them.”Rose said the men who have registered in Truckee have not “re-offended” and have consistently adhered to the lifetime registration requirements.The Internet site and inclusion of home addresses for the most serious offenders was signed into law last September and required the California Department of Justice to have an Internet site up by July 1, 2005. The Web site was up and running more than six months before the deadline.Information provided on the site includes name, aliases, age, gender, race, physical description and photograph. The site also contains a description of the criminal convictions that require the individual to register as a sex offender, and the county and ZIP code where the individual last registered. Viewers can search the new Web site by city, county, ZIP code or individual name. They also can type in the name of a park or school in a community to locate sex offenders living in the vicinity.The Sun News Service contributed to this report.CHECK IT OUTwww.meganslaw.ca.govLocal residents without Internet access can use computers at the Truckee Library located at 10031 Levone Ave. Phone 582-7846.