What Is The National Sex Offender Registry?

Information about sex offenders from all 50 states is provided in the National Sex Offender Registry. While different states have different requirements as to exactly what should be included on the National Sex Offender Registry, there are certain pieces of information that are required of all sex offenders. Generally, people who have been convicted of sexually violent behavior and certain other sexual acts or crimes against children are included on the registry. The minimum amount of information required to be provided by convicted sex offenders to the Registry includes:

  • Names and any aliases
  • Internet names and addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Social security numbers
  • Residence information
  • Temporary residence information: it is thought that sex offenders might be more likely to commit a crime when they are traveling if they only have to report their primary residence address. Therefore, they should also report the location of any temporary residences such as a hotel or a relative’s home at which they are staying.
  • Travel and immigration documents
  • Employer name and address
  • Other employment information
  • Professional licenses
  • School information
  • Vehicle information
  • Birth date
  • Physical description and current photograph
  • Description of registration offense and a criminal history
  • Finger prints, palm prints and DNA
  • Driver’s license or state identification card

In July 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) issued National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification. The guidelines were written to assist states in implementing the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006 (SORNA). SORNA set the minimum standards with which states must comply when setting up their own sex offender registries. SORNA establishes three groups or tiers of sex offenders. The tier determines how long a person remains on the registry, the frequency with which the convicted sex offender needs to check in and verify the information on the registry and the information that is included on the registry. That said, the national guidelines make clear that states can always exceed SORNA requirements. Therefore, states can decide to make the requirements for Tier III offenders applicable to all offenders.

The Department of Justice maintains a National Sex Offender Registry website. The purpose of the website is to allow members of the public to search for the location of registered sex offenders. It is thought that this information will help keep the public, particularly children, safe.

Some, but not all of the information collected by the Sex Offender Registry is available to the public on the National Sex Offender website. Some protection is made for the sex offender. For example, the sex offender’s social security number is not shared on the website. It would not provide any benefit to the public and it could be potentially harmful to the sex offender. However, his or her name, aliases, addresses and employment information is shared.

At all times, the Sex Offender Registry must carefully balance the safety needs of the public with the constitutional rights of the sex offenders. It is a difficult, yet important balance to achieve.

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