Senator Liston Davis, who in January introduced a bill to make the Virgin Islands’ sex offender registry open to the public, recently added a $40,000 appropriation from the General Fund to the miscellaneous section of the FY 2008 budget to put the registry on-line.
There’s just one problem — the legislation still has not been drafted due to a staffing shortage at the legislature’s legal counsel office.
The territory has had a sex offender registry since 1997, however it’s currently only open to law enforcement, according to the V.I. Code. Davis’ bill would “provide that the sex offender registry be open to members of the public for inspection during normal business hours or at any time if available in electronic format,” according to the senator’s drafting request form submitted on January 8.
Sex offender information in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam is available online at the U.S. Department of Justice’s national sex offender registry Web site, www.nsopr.gov. The public can use the searchable Web site to verify whether any registered sex offenders reside in their neighborhood.
The V.I. Code does require the V.I. Attorney General to notify any child care facility whenever a registered sex offender lives within a one-mile radius of the facility.
Sex offender registries first went public in 1994 when the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act was implemented. The act, which requires states to implement a sex offender registry, was named for Jacob Wetterling, who was kidnapped in 1989 at the age of 11. The boy was never found.