The U.S. Department of Justice has created an easier way for people to check for sex offenders nationwide, but Georgia's and South Carolina's registries aren't linked into the system yet.
The Justice Department announced the startup of the National Sex Offender Public Registry last week. The Web site links registries of 22 states, allowing the public to search for sex offenders with one site. The site address is www.nsopr.gov.
Every state in the country, except Oregon, has its own Web site where the public can search for sex offenders within that particular state. The new site is an attempt at a free, publicly accessible nationwide database at the federal level.
Though Georgia and South Carolina aren't linked yet to the new Web site, officials with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division say they're working on linking their registries.
The GBI and SLED run the state-level sex offender databases in their states.
"We actually got the letter (from the Justice Department) two weeks ago," said John Bankhead, an Atlanta-based spokesman for the GBI. "We immediately corresponded that we wanted to be part of it, and we're working with them now."
"It's a matter of communication lines and programming," said Celeste Proffitt, the assistant director of the crime information center with SLED. "We're actually part of the second tier of (the federal) project."
Mr. Bankhead and Ms. Proffitt said their agencies are working with federal authorities to make sure the computers that hold the state databases can "talk" with federal computers.
Mr. Bankhead said he couldn't give a specific date of when the GBI's data would be linked to the national registry.
Ms. Proffitt said SLED officials hope to have SLED data linked to the federal Web site by January 2006.
Registries have garnered extra attention in the wake of high-profile cases of sex offenders suspected in sexual assaults and slayings of children, including that of John Evander Couey, who was found in Augusta on St. Patrick's Day.
During the unfolding of the case of Mr. Couey, who is accused of assaulting and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in Homosassa, Fla., Web site traffic to sex offender registries was heavy.
Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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