Registry changes good for many

We are almost always in favor of the public gaining access to as much information as possible, and the recent announcement by the Delaware Department of Justice and the Delaware State Police regarding upgrades to the state’s Sex Offender Web site certainly falls into the favorable category.

Officials announced that there will be new search criteria on the site, including an offender vehicle registration search, offender e-mail search, a “real-time” wanted sex-offender search and neighborhood mapping capabilities that provide visual aids to determine proximity to offenders.

In addition to the enhanced search capabilities, there is also a new initiative to require sex offenders who were convicted prior to 1994 to be placed on the State Sex Offender Registry. That was the year Delaware originally enacted its sex-offender registry law. More than 900 sex offenders have been identified who now must register with the state, according to officials.

These changes were a combined effort among the Attorney General’s office, the Delaware State Police, Delaware Child Predator Task Force, Department of Technology and Information, and Delaware Justice Information System.

“This is a great example of how agencies can work together to enhance public safety and help parents protect their children,” said Gov. Jack Markell.

And that’s what this is about. Critics of sex-offender registries across the nation have stated that it violates the privacy rights of offenders, and that it leads to violence or other actions against those who find themselves on the list. While we certainly don’t condone any action against the registered offenders, we instead see this is a tool for parents, rather than a platform to single out offenders.

“Sexual crimes against children and adults devestate families and communities,” said Chief Deputy Attorney General Richard S. Gebelein. “Our enhanced registry and the closing of a loophole in the registration requirements give Delawareans more information to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

The Internet has provided many sex offenders a means to contact potential victims and establish relationships. It only makes sense that it also provides people the opportunity to protect their loved ones through sheer information and facts.

We applaud the state for taking this matter seriously, and doing what it can to help families.