PROVIDENCE, RI -- When predatory and violent sex offenders are released from prison or move to Rhode Island, the community has a right to know.

 

In an effort to enhance public safety, U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced $244,540 in federal funding for the Rhode Island Sex Offender Registry (RISOR) to hire personnel, enhance sex offender registration compliance, and digitize old records to ensure each sex offender’s record is accurate and can be seamlessly shared among law enforcement agencies.

 

“I am committed to enhancing public safety and holding offenders accountable. This federal funding will help ensure state and local law enforcement have an accurate, unified system to identify and track convicted sex offenders, keep the public informed, and prevent repeat offenses.  Rhode Island must be proactive, collaborative, and effective when it comes to offender management.  This federal funding will help the State Police achieve that goal,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS), which oversees federal funding for the U.S. Department of Justice.

 

The federal funds are administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART Office), through the Adam Walsh Act Implementation Grant Program.  Under the terms of the grant, Rhode Island may use the federal funds for support personnel to maintain the Sex Offender Registry; digitize all existing hard copy sex offender records to ensure Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) compliance; and pay annual subscription fees for specialized computer software called OffenderWatch.

 

Offender Watch is used by more than 4,000 law enforcement agencies across the country in 39 states. The program enables police departments to collaborate on investigations and share important information on sex offender cases with each other, as well as organizations such as the U.S. Marshals and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program.

 

SORNA is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which Congress passed in 2006 to require that a registered sex offender notify law enforcement of a change of address. The law made it a federal crime for a registered sex offender to move from one state to another state without re-registering with the new home state and strengthened the nationwide network of sex offender registration and notification programs.

 

Senator Reed voted for the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 and helped reauthorize it in 2016. The law is named for the abducted and slain son of Americas Most Wanted host John Walsh.

 

According to RISOR, there are currently 1,391 sex offenders in the state of Rhode Island, including those who are currently incarcerated and eligible for parole.

 

RISOR offers searches by the offender’s name or by using a specific address to show an interactive map of offenders in the area.  Each offender’s profile displays a photograph, a current address and other known addresses, history of conviction for sex crimes, along with a risk level (level 1 assessed as a low risk of re-offense, level 2 assessed as a moderate risk of re-offense, and level 3 assessed as a high risk of re-offense).

 

Federal law requires that each offender be classified as level 1 through 3 by a specially appointed Sex Offender Registration Review Board.  The classification system helps local law enforcement focus on monitoring those sex offenders who pose the highest risk of re-offending.