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MD: Sex Offender registry goes online, easing access but raising privacy concerns.

April 24, 2002

WASHINGTON - Maryland officials will post the state's sex offender registry online Monday, allowing anyone in the world to look up the name, address and picture of more than 2,000 convicts.

Maryland joins the District of Columbia and 29 other states that post information about their sex offenders on the Internet. The Maryland list - which had 2,282 individuals Friday - will be searchable by name, ZIP code and type of crime.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Maryland expressed serious concerns about a web site listing sexual offenders who have already served their time. "This is an additional debt," to society, said Suzanne Smith, spokeswoman for the Maryland ACLU.

But a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said the state is posting the registry "because the public wants it."

Leonard A. Sipes Jr. said that about 65 percent of the calls, e-mails and letters to his office over the last several years have been requests for electronic access to the registry, which had been available by mail.

Federal law requires that states establish and maintain a sex offender registry, but does not require that the list be online.

Maryland's registry tracks both state and federal sexual offenders for a minimum of 10 years, and repeat violent offenders or sexual predators for their entire lives. The registry goes back to 1995 for sex offenses against children and 1997 for all other categories.

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Source: 2002 The Star Democrat