Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PA Revamps Megan’s Law Web

Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law website has been upgraded by the PA State Police to now include what they believe is a more user-friendly interface. The website list information about registered sex offenders living in Pennsylvania. In the past, individuals have been able to search for offenders by community name or zip code. The site now allows users to enter an address and then search for offenders within a given radius. “It also has a Sondex feature that takes the name entered by the user and provides a list of individuals with that name and similar sounding names,” says PA State Police Spokesperson Jack Lewis.

The site continues to offer visitors a chance to submit a tip and it list sex offenders whose whereabouts are unknown. For each sex offender the site includes a picture, an address and the offense for which they were found guilty. Lewis says it also notes if they are considered to be “sexual offenders” or a “sexually violent predator.” It also lists if they are required to be registered for life or if they are only required to let the state know where they are for the next 10 years.

Lewis says State Police would like to add even more functionality. “We would like to be able to add an electronic community notification feature that would allow users to receive notifications about Megan’s Law offenders via email or text messages but in order for that to happen we would have to have some changes in the law by the state legislature,” says Lewis

Visitors to the website are forced to accept terms of use. “We certainly are concerned that people will misuse the site by locating a sex offender and then harassing them in some way,” says Lewis, “That would be a violation of the law.”

State police officials say the site gets about 7,000 hits a day.

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