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Editorial: Sex offender information available

11-16-2000 Editorial in The Acorn:
While youth organizations like American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and some churches in the area check employees and volunteers against the Megan’s Law computerized system for identifying serious and high risk sex offenders on a regular basis, individuals may not be aware that this system is also available for private use.

Megan’s Law is named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge.

The Kanka’s sought to have all communities warned about sex offenders in every area.

A result of the California Child Protective Act of 1994, sponsored by Dan Lundgren, who was California’s Attorney General at the time, parents and organizations now have access to information about every registered sex offender in their vicinity.

According to the law, sex offenders are required to register at local sheriff departments each year between five days before and five days after their birthday.

The database offers a basic description of the offender, including nationality, height, weight and any identifiable marks like scars, tattoos or body oddities. It also lists specific offenses and any aliases along with a picture for most, but not all, offenders.

The State Department of Justice (DOJ) sends updated CD-ROMS monthly to sheriff’s stations throughout California.

For residents of Lancaster, this proved to be a helpful tool to identify a high-risk sex offender who had moved into their community.

A newspaper has reported that state Assemblyman George Runner and city officials in Lancaster including Mayor Frank Roberts and Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford have picketed outside an apartment where Andre Bradford, 41, a registered sex offender, has moved in with relatives.

Bradford was released from Atascadero State Prison on Sept. 18 after serving 22 years for rape and burglary. More than a dozen residents have demanded the eviction of Bradford and passed out fliers alerting passersby that he had moved there.

Becky Ritchie, records supervisor for the East County Division of the Ventura County Sheriff’s department, said that information available to the general public doesn’t include the specific address of the registered sex offender, only the ZIP Code, but added that law enforcement personnel do have more specific and complete information.

Cmdr. Keith Parks at the Thousand Oaks Police Department believes that this is a great tool for organizations and the general public. He added that while it hasn’t happened yet, if a high-risk sex offender would move into the area, there are provisions for distributing public notices. ..more..

––Debbie Sporich

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