More Sex-Offender Alerts Sent Via E-Mail - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

More Sex-Offender Alerts Sent Via E-Mail

USATODAY.COM - A growing number of law enforcement agencies and states are using e-mail to alert victims and anyone else who wants to know when sex offenders in their area move into the neighborhood, or change jobs or schools.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Sacramento police and sheriff's departments are among the latest agencies to unveil such systems, adding them in October and November respectively.

Statewide systems are in place in a dozen states, including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio and South Carolina, according to Mark Wilson, vice president of sales and marketing for Watch Systems of Covington, La., which has partnered with several states to develop their systems.

Indiana and Illinois are in the process of implementing systems that will give them similar capabilities along with other technology to track sex offenders, Wilson said.

In Missouri, Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Hull said 3,506 people signed up during the first month. The system allows anyone to enter an address and get e-mails when a sex offender registers a home, work or school address near them, Hull said.

"They put their address in — it might be their day care address or they might put their kid's school in there — and the user simply selects a radius which can be 500 feet up to 5 miles," Hull said. The Sacramento system is similar, police spokesman Konrad Von Schoech said.

"You have the ability of not only locating sex offenders in your neighborhood, but it allows you to receive e-mail notifications when a sex offender registers a specific address in your neighborhood," Von Schoech said.

John Walsh, host of TV's America's Most Wantedand the father of murder victim Adam Walsh, who was abducted from a shopping mall in Hollywood, Fla., in 1981 when he was 6, favors the idea.

"I think people have the right to know, " Walsh said. "I think particularly victims should be alerted when someone who destroyed their lives is released from jail."

Walsh said he has made repeated trips to Washington to advocate child protections since his son was murdered 29 years ago, and he said he is optimistic that law officers nationwide will continue efforts toward improving the tracking of sex offenders.

Many of those efforts are mandated by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006 but has yet to be fully implemented nationwide, Walsh said.

The economy has kept many states from fully complying with the federal act, says Corey Rayburn Yung, an associate professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago who follows the issue.

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