SACRAMENTO–Attorney General Bill Lockyer unveiled a major enhancement to California’s Megan’s Law public Internet site–which will allow Californians to search the sex offender registry in 12 different languages.
Legislation passed in 2004 (AB 488–Parra) made it possible for the public to access information about sex offenders required to register with local law enforcement using their personal computers. Previously–the information was available only by personally visiting police stations and sheriff offices or by calling a 900 toll-number.
California’s Megan’s Law provides the public with certain information on the whereabouts of sex offenders so that members of our local communities may protect themselves and their children. Now the website will be available in 12 languages–making it more accessible to all Californians.
"This vital improvement recognizes the tremendous diversity of California’s population–and will empower more families by giving them greater access to crucial public safety information," Lockyer said. "Accessibility to the sex offender registry is an important public safety tool–and it should be available to all Californians."
The added feature will allow individuals to search the database in the following languages: English–Arabic–Armenian–Chinese–Japanese–Korean–Portuguese–Punjabi–Russian–Spanish–Tagalog–and Vietnamese. A "drop-down" index that allows visitors to select the language of their choice is located at the upper right portion of the Megan’s Law Internet site’s welcome page.
Information on the Internet site that will be provided in the 12 languages includes registran’s’ gender–race–physical description (including scars–marks–and tattoos)–and a description of the criminal convictions that require the individual to register as a sex offender. Registran’s’ name–aliases–age–and the county and ZIP Code where the individual last registered–will be provided only in English.
The Internet site is available at MegansLaw.ca.gov and through the Attorney General’s home page at www.ag.ca.gov. The site provides detailed information on more than 63,000 registered sex offenders. Visitors to the site can search for sex offenders living or working near their homes–schools–and public parks.
Additional–crucial public safety information on "How to Protect Yourself and Your Family" also has been translated into the various languages on the website–as well as a "Summary of the Law." The translated materials also include a "Frequently Asked Questions" section–which clearly explains key aspects of Megan’s Law and the sex offender registry.
Another feature now available in the 12 languages is a link allowing viewers to directly report information to the state Department of Justice (DOJ). A viewer can click on the "Report Information to DOJ" button located in each registrant’s profile and submit information concerning the sex offender–including suspected violation of registration requiremen’s–for follow-up by appropriate law enforcement agencies.
The Megan’s Law public viewing web page was unveiled on December 14–2004–more than six months ahead of the deadline set by 2004 legislation that authorized the site’s creation. It is one of the most advanced public sex offender registry web sites in the nation–because of its state-of-the-art search features (by address–ZIP Code–school–or park)–mapping capabilities–ease of use–as well as the extensive public safety information it provides.
Since it became operational–California’s Megan’s Law web site has experienced more than 180 million hits from roughly 17 million users. In the near future–California’s site will be linked to the recently-unveiled national registry–which eventually will serve as a hub from which users can link directly to all states’ Internet sites.
Megan’s Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka–a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge. In the wake of the tragedy–the Kankas sought to have local communities warned about sex offenders in the area.
The law is not intended to punish the offender and specifically prohibits using the information to harass or commit any crime against an offender.