King seeks sex offenders’ screen names

Published 6:55 pm Saturday, January 31, 2009

State Attorney General Troy King says the government doesn’t do enough to keep up with the 10,605 registered sex offenders living throughout Alabama.

When the Legislature convenes Tuesday, King will propose legislation to strengthen the requirements for sex offenders once they leave prison, including requiring them to disclose information about their cars and the names they use to meet people in computer chat rooms and on Internet social sites.

King said the computer has become the tool of choice for enticing victims, and having the computer names will make it easier to catch sex offenders if they try to lure new victims via the computer.

“It gives us a more complete picture of who sex offenders are and where they go in the real world and online world,” he said in an interview.

Alabama law already requires sex offenders to notify authorities of where they plan to live when they get out of prison. Law enforcement notifies the neighbors that a sex offender is moving into their neighborhood and the information is posted on the state Department of Public Safety’s Web site.

The process starts over each time the sex offender moves.

Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

In reality, King said, some sex offenders will report that they are living with a relative, but will be staying elsewhere with a girlfriend.

King’s bill would make it a crime, punishable by one to 10 years in prison, for someone to assist a sex offender in hiding his real residence.

Alabama law already bars sex offenders from living near a school or child care facility. King’s bill would expand that to include YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs.

King said the goal is to keep sex offenders away from children. “One thing we know about sex offenders is many are offenders of opportunity,” he said.

The bill would also create the crime of video voyeurism, which would be punishable by one to 10 years in prison. King said that provision in aimed at people who use cameras in cell phones to secretly take pictures of people in gym locker rooms and store dressing rooms.

King said the need for that provision is demonstrated by the number of embarrassing photos posted on the Internet without the subjects’ knowledge.

The bill would also bring Alabama into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act by formalizing the process for notifying other states when a sex offender moves across the state line and requiring law enforcement to verify the residence of the most serious sex offenders more often, he said.