House OKs sex-offender registry bill
WASHINGTON - Finding the nearest convicted child molester might be as easy as punching in a ZIP code on a computer keyboard, thanks to a bill that cleared Congress on Tuesday.
The House passed and sent to President Bush legislation establishing a national Internet database designed to let law enforcement and communities know where convicted sex offenders live and work.
The most serious offenders would be registered on a national database for a lifetime. All sex offenders could face a felony charge, punishable by 10 years in prison, for failing to update the information.
"This legislation would make it crystal clear to sex offenders: You better register, you better keep the information current or you're going to jail," said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
The House passed it by voice vote.
The Senate approved it with a voice vote last week.
Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said there are half a million sex offenders in the United States and as many as 100,000 are not registered, their locations unknown to the public and police.
Convicted criminals required to register will have to do so in person in each state where they intend to live, work or go to school.