How Safe is Your Neighborhood? How to Use the Sex Offender Registry

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How Safe is Your Neighborhood? How to Use the Sex Offender Registry

Staff Writer · Mar 25, 2010

There are many websites that offer a sex offender registry for you to research and locate the residence of sex offenders in your neighborhood. However, only one is a collaborative effort between the United States Department of Justice and all 50 states that host public sex offender registries: The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, www.nsopw.gov.

How It Works

Submit one query, and you can pull up information on anyone living in your neighborhood that has been court ordered to register with a sex offender registry. The search options on www.nswopw.gov are by:

  • Zip code
  • County
  • Offender’s first and last name
  • City
  • Town
  • National
  • Jurisdiction

Which of these criteria you can search depends on the area where you live. The federal government acts as a facilitator of the information, but ultimately the website is a collection of data from each state. That’s why once you get the information, you should still contact the state’s public sex offender registry to learn more.

How to Use Sex Offender Registry

If you’re concerned about a particular individual, do a standard search using their first and last name. A search on www.nsopw.gov will show results for every state, plus Guam, the District of Columbia, Indian Country and Puerto Rico. Since most people don’t know the personal histories of their neighborhoods, you’ll most likely have to use the advanced search option to look up sex offenders by your zip code. The advanced search option asks for the first and last name of the person again, as well as city and other information. Skip that, and enter your zip code. Submit your search to see the results.

Results

The search results will list the first and last name of the individual, along with the city and county information. Click on the names to get more information, including the person’s home address-which is probably what you’re most interested in. Each state is different, but some of the information you’ll find includes:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Age
  • Height
  • Eye color
  • Criminal convictions
  • Status (incarcerated or not)
  • Place of employment

Most states include the conviction records with links to learn more. They’ll also list the date of registration. At the bottom of the information page, you’ll find a link to go to the state’s website to get even more information to confirm the accuracy of what’s posted on www.nsopw.gov.

Beyond Your Apartment’s Address

Conduct a search using the various zip codes beyond where you apartment is located. For example, search the national sex offender registry using your place of employment’s zip code. Also search places where you take your children the most, like parks, playground or the home of nearby family members. Use tools like www.mapquest.com or Google Earth to locate the home address on a map, and get a visual on where sex offenders live. In some states, child sex offenders have lived within yards of elementary schools. Don’t take anything for granted, and do your research to know where the risks are.

It’s important to know how safe your neighborhood, and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website can help. It’s free and easy to use.

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