New Web site gives physical details of Missouri registered sex offenders

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The highway patrol also offers a new toll-free phone number with information on sex offenders.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The concerned and curious now have a new way of checking their neighborhoods for registered sex offenders in Missouri.

An updated state Internet site promoted Monday by Gov. Matt Blunt can create maps detailing every registered sex offender living, working or attending school within 1,000 feet to 15 miles of any particular address.

The new Web site also includes physical descriptions of registered sex offenders -- height, weight, race, eye and hair color, scars and tattoos -- and, when available, a description of the vehicles they drive. Also online are the ages and genders of the offenders' victims.

The additional details are the result of a law enacted earlier this year that expanded the public information available about registered sex offenders while allowing some less-violent offenders -- such as a teenager who had consensual sex with a younger teen -- to petition to be removed from the registry. The bill passed the House and Senate without any dissent.

Blunt, who has a 1 1/2-year-old son, has used the Web site to scan for sex offenders near his own home. He said the Web site improvements provide a "more powerful tool for Missouri parents who are trying to protect their children and make sure they are cognizant of the dangers out there."

Court ruling

Despite the Web site improvements, information will be lacking for some sex offenders. That's because the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in June that people convicted before the sex offender list originally took effect in 1995 can no longer be required to register.

That meant that slightly fewer than half of the roughly 10,500 people on the registry no longer were required to update their information, but it did not require the state to pull their names off the sex offender registry.

Because their current addresses are uncertain, those people with earlier convictions will not show up on an address-proximity search using the new Web site. But their names still are listed -- minus an address or any specific physical description -- under the last county in which they were registered.

For those without Internet access, the Highway Patrol also is operating a new toll-free telephone number from which its employees will provide information about registered sex offenders. The phone number will be answered from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.

The phone number is (888) 767-6747.

The Web site address is: tml

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