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Attorney General Lockyer Unveils Improvements to Megan's Law
Public Information on Registered Sex Offenders Now Available in 13 Languages And Updated Daily
(SAN DIEGO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today demonstrated improvements to California's Megan's Law system that provide law enforcement agencies with daily updates on the identity and whereabouts of registered sexual offenders and allow the public to obtain access to the information in 13 languages.
"Daily updates mean that citizens looking up sex offenders in their communities will see information gathered the previous day, rather than information on CD-ROMS gathered the month before," Lockyer said. "It also will make it more difficult for a registered sex offender to hide by often moving from place to place, as many of them now do."
Made available since March 1, the improvements allow California law enforcement agencies to obtain daily updates of Megan's Law information by accessing a Department of Justice database via a secure Intranet connection. The new web-enabled application replaces a CD-ROM produced by the Attorney General's Office and distributed monthly to law enforcement agencies. Since the changes went into effect March 1, more than 75 law enforcement agencies have begun the process of switching to the new application. Other agencies are expected to follow by June 1, when DOJ plans to stop distributing the CD-ROM.
The new technology also makes available Megan's Law information in 12 additional languages: Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
"For those in our diverse state who do not speak English, this will open a door to information they can use to protect themselves, their families and their loved ones," Lockyer said.
Enacted in 1996, California's Megan's Law allows the public access to information on the identities and whereabouts of the state's "serious" and "high risk" registered sex offenders. The information is available in three ways: Police and sheriff's departments may notify residents of a nearby sex offender; individuals may call (900) 448-3000; or people may view the information at a law enforcement agency. Of the 95,000 registered sex offenders in California, 78,000 are considered "serious" or "high risk" and information regarding their identities and whereabouts is subject to public disclosure.
To date, law enforcement agencies have disclosed information on more than 3,500 sex offenders, more than 80,000 searches have been conducted using the 900 phone line, and more than 100,000 people have viewed the CD-ROM under the supervision of law enforcement officers.
Two new laws also take effect this year that will further improve law enforcement's ability to protect the public from sex offenders. Beginning January 1 of this year, specified sex offenders are required to annually, instead of only upon first registering, update important information, including: the license plate of any vehicle owned by or registered to the offender, fingerprints, and a current photograph.
Also, beginning October 28 of this year, sex offenders attending classes, participating in programs, or working on college campuses will be required to register with the campus police department in addition to registering with the police or sheriff's department in the community in which they live. If a campus does not have a police department, those offenders will be required to register with the police or sheriff's department that has jurisdiction over that campus.
Joining the Attorney General for the Megan's Law demonstration were San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender and Steve Allen, Director of Legal Services, Center for Community Solutions, which provides assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.