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VA: Web sex registry may be in danger.

February 24, 2002

By Jeffrey Sykes

How long should someone convicted of a sex offense continue to be punished by the government after serving a prison sentence?

That's the subject of a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges an Alaska law requiring convicted sex offenders to register with police when they are released from prison.

The law also makes the information available online to anyone surfing the Internet.

The outcome of the case could affect Virginia's online sex offender registry and similar laws in 11 other states.

The Supreme Court agreed to consider the constitutionality of Internet registries listing the names of convicted sex offenders who have completed their punishment.

The question is how far states may go in requiring previously convicted sex offenders to be included in a state registry available to anyone.

The court accepted an appeal from Alaska, where part of the state's sex offender law was struck down last year by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Alaska's sex-offender law, modeled after New Jersey's pioneering "Megan's Law," allows the public to track known sex offenders.

Virginia passed a similar law in 1994 after the state crime commission studied the issue for about two years.

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Source: 2002 The News & Advance