Oklahoma City police announced last week that the department will begin participating in a national sex offender lookup program called OffenderWatch.
OffenderWatch is a public database compiling sex offender registry information from more than 5,000 law enforcement agencies across the nation. The online database allows members of the public to visit a website, enter an address, and find the locations of any registered sex offenders living nearby. Users must register their addresses and email addresses to opt-in to alerts if a sex offender registers with a nearby address.
While Oklahoma City police tout their participation in this public database as helpful and safe for Oklahomans, such information is already available through other websites and databases, including Family Watchdog, which does not require users to register their email addresses and opt in to alerts.
Of course, the most accurate information about Oklahoma sex offenders is the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, which is available for public search. While one cannot enter a specific address and see a map of all registered offenders living within a specified number of miles, one can search by city or zip code and find registered sex offenders living nearby.
An important caveat for anyone who feels safer because of a sex offender registry--these do nothing to give the whereabouts of sex offenders who fail to register. Failure to register is a separate criminal offense, but it is a risk many convicted sex offenders are willing to take. Residency restrictions for registered sex offenders severely limit available housing. In fact, most of the city of Oklahoma City is off-limits for sex offender residency. In order to find a home and to avoid the stigma of sex offender registration, many sex offenders fail to register. This allows them to fly under the radar.
While most sex offenders are actually non-violent offenders at low risk of re-offense, there are habitual and violent offenders for whom a sex offender registry is no deterrent, and a mere listing on a registry does nothing to protect the public.
To learn more about Oklahoma sex offender registration, click here. For sex crime defense or information about how you may qualify to be removed from the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, call 405-778-4800 or submit our online case review form to schedule a free consultation.