Okay, none of us really wants to FIND a sex offender, unless, of course, you happen to work in law enforcement. But, if you have kids, you want to know where they are and if it is anywhere near your home.
In Texas, currently, the law requires a registered sex offender to have a sign on the front lawn indicating that they are a sex offender (Sex Offender Lives Here, etc.) for the duration of their probationary period (usually post-incarceration). Once they are off probation, though, they are free to remove the sign. I don’t think it’s that easy everywhere, and, once their probation is over it’s not easy to find them here, either.
The easiest way to find out if there is a sex offender in your neighborhood is to do an online search of one of the many websites that carry this information. My personal choice is the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Registry at http://www.nsopr.gov/. Another excellent website is http://www.familywatchdog.us/. The Family Watchdog website offers free information on sex offenders as well as a paid notification program. Details of their notification program can be found on their site at http://www.familywatchdog.us/faq.asp. You can also find direct links to the state online sex offender registries through the FBI’s website at http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/cac/states.htm.
I do have a caveat to offer on web searching. This information is freely provided by law enforcement in the United States. If you use a search engine to find “sex offender registries” and end up at a website that asks you to pay for the privilege, or wants you to submit your email address in order to find out if there is a sex offender in your area, use another site. The last place I want to provide any personal data, even something as innocuous as my “spam” email address (the one I maintain solely for sites that make you enter one in order to access them), is an online sex offender site. I know nothing about the people or organizations that run these sites and, as a parent, do not want to provide them with anything that could, eventually, and probably with very little effort, be traced back to me and my family.
Take a minute to look up your area on one of the sites above, bookmark, and check back often.
‘Til next time, stay safe!