A new law in Louisiana mandates sex offender and predators must post on their social networking profile that they have been convicted of a sexual crime. Could a similar law be headed for the Mid-Ohio Valley?
The concept of a sex offender registry is not new, in fact each state in the nation has a system where they track and keep a record of those convicted of a sexual crime. Those registering have to provide personal information, including (but not limited to) address, phone numbers, vehicle information, employment information and Internet information.
"In the state of Ohio- they (the offender) have to give their screen name," explains Sgt. Patrice Tornes of the Washington County Sheriff''s Office. "Any social media outlet they are with- they have to provide passwords for them as well."
"In West Virginia they (the offender) have to register and tell us who their provider is and they also have to give their email address... or addresses." Cpl. Mark Mayhugh of the West Virginia State Police. "They also have to let us know if they are on Facebook or any social networking site. They have to give us their user name as well."
How frequently an offender or predator registers varies from once a year to every 90 days depending on their original conviction. A new law in the state of Louisiana builds on existing registration requirements and now mandates that the offender must include in their social networking profile that they are a sex offender or predator. The new law says the offender must list the jurisdiction of conviction, description of the offenders physical characteristics and their address.
Local law enforcement says although the new law seems great in theory, in practice it could make their jobs of tracking sex offenders more difficult.
"It's not necessarily a bad thing. I think it would be difficult to enforce because a lot of the offenders would just go on and register using aliases," Cpl. Mayhugh says. "I think it will also probably result in more violations."
"I don't see this making law enforcement's job any easier," Sgt. Tornes agrees. "In fact, I think it will make it harder when trying to track them on the social media. When they get busted under their original name- they're just going to go in and create another account and this can happen multiple times."
Officials say it depends on the results in Louisiana to see whether or not the new requirements will take hold in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"I would think that the public is probably going to like the idea, it sounds good," Cpl Mayhugh concludes. "I think Louisiana is the only state that requires it thus far. So, they'll be a good tester state."
"If something works out well in one state than, naturally, other states are going to want to look at it. All that they're out to do is protect the public in any way that they can," Sgt. Tornes says.
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