After convicted rapists and sexually-motivated deviants are released from prison, California legislature requires them to register on the Megan's Law website, divulging where they live, their occupation and criminal history. Offender tracking software helps law enforcement monitor these felons, but authorities are looking to implement more navigable systems for constituent use.
According to The San Francisco Examiner, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office recently launched a user-friendly database called OffenderWatch. The program possesses a few distinguishing features, one of them enabling users to receive instant, real-time alerts regarding information pertaining to newly registered perpetrators. Rebecca Rosenblatt, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, noted that it eliminates the need for concerned citizens to make a phone call to law enforcement in order to obtain knowledge.
"This is the same information that's always been available under Megan's Law," said Rosenblatt, as quoted by the news source. "But we're making it easier to access. It takes no work or time to figure out how to use this site."
Joey Gauthier, spokesman for Watch Systems - the company that implemented the database - told the news source that San Mateo County deputies no longer have to spend the time searching through Megan's Law to satisfy constituent requests. Whenever a change is made to the database, the public is notified within 24 hours.
A Change in Legislature?
On the other hand, some doctoral criminology students, such as Marina Bell, claimed that research has shown that criminal records virtually immortalized by technology often prevent released felons from re-integrating themselves into society. She told The San Francisco Examiner that although it's important for law enforcement to utilize programs such as Tribridge Offender360, consistently disclosing information to the public stigmatizes offenders and raises the chances of them repeating past behavior.
In addition, many California legislators are claiming that state resources are being constricted. KCRA-TV reported that the state's Sex Offender Management Board is seeking to change a rule stating that all sexually-motivated deviants must register with the state of California for life. Under the proposed law, lower-level criminals released from prison would be eligible to apply for 10 to 20 year registration terms. Many citizens, such as Crime Victims United President Harriet Salarno, are skeptical of the tenuous measure.
"Nobody goes to state prison for minor offenses," Salarno told the news source. "These are serious offenders coming out, so they should register for life."
Law enforcement agents looking to consolidate resources should consider integrating their felon management software with cloud computing solutions, as accessing the programs will become much easier as a result.