In October 2009, Governor M. Jodi Rell unveiled Connecticut's enhanced Sex Offender Registry System. The state's new service would build on the previous system's initial goals: Help law enforcement monitor the state's sex offender population and give citizens the opportunity to track registered sex offenders living in their neighborhoods. The Connecticut Department of Public Safety, a Division of the State Police, would implement and manage the new service.
Since then we have made tremendous improvements in the flow of information, level of communication between state agencies, and the support mechanism, which was absent before this implementation.
For law enforcement, the new tools will allow probation and parole officers and police to better manage sex offenders and their movements in and out of a jurisdiction. Officials will be able to register offenders remotely from Department of Correction facilities and the system is linked with other state law enforcement databases.
The public can now access the state's upgraded system to track the whereabouts of registered sex offenders by street location, city or town, or by a radial area, a registrant's name, or by compliance status. In addition, parents can print fliers on child safety from their own computers, and they are provided tools to educate their children on how to protect themselves.
The enhanced sex offender registry has been a long time coming. Connecticut was one of the first states in the nation to launch a sex offender Web site. Established in 1998, it was named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka of New Jersey, who was killed four years earlier by a sex offender living near her home. The original site provided some information, but didn't go far enough to keep up with the available technology to give citizens or law enforcement the information they needed to protect families and communities.
Our job was to ensure sex offenders were compliant. If they weren't, we'd notify them by letter. For the first four-and-a-half years, we had limited resources and were unable to spend a great deal of time arresting violators that failed to respond to their 90-day letters.
The new system provides us with a series of auto-generated reports, not only for 90-day violations but for photo and educational institution violations.
Passage of the Adam Walsh Act in 2006 called for major improvements to sex offender registries across the country. It expanded the scope of sex offender registrations by including a wider range of offenses. Offenders are required under the law to make periodic, personal appearances to authorities to update their information.
When the Connecticut Department of Public Safety began looking to expand registry criteria, it released a request for proposal and after an extensive process, selected Appriss and their partner, Watch Systems, two technology companies with an extensive background in criminal justice data sharing.
Appriss is widely known for its automated victim information and notification service called VINE. The Kentucky-based company is linked with jails and state prisons across the country and provides offender information in real time to both law enforcement and the general public. Appriss has also developed a notification tool to keep residences, schools, and businesses informed when registered sex offenders moved into neighborhoods.
Louisiana-based Watch Systems is best known for OffenderWatch, a leading sex offender registry management and community notification tool. Criminal justice agencies across the country use OffenderWatch to manage and monitor a sex offender's whereabouts as well as their conduct and compliance status.
OffenderWatch also provides the public with direct access to agency-personalized local offender information. Citizens can receive e-mail notifications when a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood. They can also track individual offenders through its mapping tool.