California launches Megan’s Law Web site
LOS ANGELES – Californians can use a Web site launched Wednesday to search their neighborhoods for sex offenders and access information including the offenders’ names, photos and home addresses.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer called the long awaited, state-sponsored Megan’s Law site “a remarkable tool for families to protect themselves” from sexual predators.
Opponents say the easy access to detailed information provided by the site – some of it inaccurate – will lead to vigilantism while unfairly penalizing rehabilitated offenders.
The site – http://meganslaw.ca.gov – includes information on 63,000 of the state’s estimated 110,000 sex offenders who register with local law enforcement, officials said. Home addresses are listed for 33,500 of the most serious offenders.
Detailed street maps on the site display blue dots representing offenders. Visitors clicking on a dot can see the offender’s physical description, aliases, type of crime, and in many cases, a photo. Visitors also can search by other methods including individual name.
Lockyer demonstrated the site at a news conference attended by state lawmakers who wrote the bill creating it and Orange County child safety activist Erin Runnion.
Runnion launched a foundation aimed at protecting children after her 5-year-old daughter Samantha was kidnapped, raped and murdered in July 2002. She said that while Web site would not have saved her daughter – because the man accused of the crime was not in any database and did not live near her – it would protect others by putting parents on alert.