STOP SEX OFFENDERS | UTAH: Utah adds 4,300 names to its sex offender registry
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UTAH: Utah adds 4,300 names to its sex offender registry.

December 8, 2000

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Department of Corrections updated its sex offender database Thursday, adding information on some 4,300 offenders to the online database.

The database includes photos, addresses, birth dates, aliases, current vehicles and sex offense convictions on men and women convicted of anything from misdemeanor lewdness to first-degree felony rape.

Within the next month, Corrections officials expect to add details of the offender's method of operation.

"What it's designed for is merely information so that the public can access it more easily," said Jesse Gallegos, Corrections director of community relations. "Prior to it being on the Web site, people were calling the department. It just makes it much easier."

Utah law requires sex offenders to be listed on the database for 10 years after the end of their sentences. In August, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Legislature's 1998 amendments that made registry retroactive, adding those who completed their sentences and probation prior to July 1998.

Since the court's ruling, Corrections officials had worked furiously to update the Web site with information on all of Utah's sex offenders. Prior to the ruling, just 400-plus sex offenders were on the registry.

"We have had 17 people sitting over computer terminals entering data, and we have had as many as 200 Adult Probation and Parole agents out looking for offenders who've refused to apply," said Corrections spokesman Jack Ford. "There are 300 or 400 that we still haven't got full pictures on."

Offenders who refuse to update their information could be charged with a class A misdemeanor or, at the very least, a parole violation, Gallegos said.

Corrections officials plan to update the registry at least twice a week.

But Ford said his office has been inundated with calls from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and family members of offenders who are upset offender information is so easily available.

Some prisoner rights' groups have complained the registry will hinder offenders who are trying to move on with their lives.

"I had one woman call me who said she didn't even know her husband was a sex offender," Ford said.

Corrections officials acknowledge such registries in other states have been used to harass sex offenders. Utah's site warns anyone harassing offenders may be violating Utah law.

Ford said a separate database listing all convicted criminals in Utah, their crimes and release dates should be up and running sometime after the new year.

The Utah Department of Corrections' website currently has a sex offender search link from its homepage.

Source: The Associated Press, StandardNET