Sex Offender Web Site Draws Fire from Virginia ACLU

January 4, 1999 12:00 am

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ACLU News Wire: 01-04-99 — Sex Offender Web Site Draws Fire from Virginia ACLU

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RICHMOND, VA — Photographs, names and home addresses of people convicted of sex offenses are now posted on a Virginia State Police Web site that is accessible to the public.

Anyone looking at the site can search the database by name, address, zip code, city or county, according to the Associated Press.

ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis called the site a “total invasion of privacy” and said it is tantamount to the state encouraging vigilante justice. “This is a scarlet letter,” Willis told the Associated Press. “The state is implying that citizens ought to do something about it.”

According to the Associated Press, the state of Virginia keeps a registry that lists 6,363 sex offenders, all but 81 of them men. The Web site contains the names of 4,631 people. The site will be updated every week day and the rest of the list will be posted within two months, CBS reported.

A law allowing public access to the registry took effect in July. The site lists offenders who have been convicted of sexually violent crimes, including rape, forcible sodomy, object penetration, abduction with intent to defile and aggravated sexual battery.

Source: The Associated Press, December 30, 1998; CBS, December 30, 1998

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