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Utah considers making phone numbers, email addresses searchable in sex offender registry | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing


Changes could be happening to the Utah Sex Offender Registry. Lawmakers and the Utah Attorney General’s Office are planning to add more “searchable” details available to the public, but some victims’ advocates said crucial information will be left off, in certain cases.

According to state law, people on the sex offender registry are required to provide information to law enforcement, like their names and aliases, their general description, a DNA sample and their work information.

Currently, not all that information is searchable to the general public, like phone numbers and emails.

The draft bill being considered on Utah’s Capitol Hill would allow people look up phone numbers, email addresses and other internet identifiers like Twitter handles, to see if they’re linked to someone on the registry.

“In this day and age, our kids aren’t going to dangerous places. The dangerous places are coming to them through their cell phone,” General Counsel for the Utah Attorney General’s Office Dan Burton said.

Searchers will only be notified if the information is linked to a registered offender, but the name of the offender will be left out.

“At that point, they can go to law enforcement and say, ‘This phone number, this email or this online internet identifier contacted my son or my daughter through this app,’ and law enforcement can go find out who this person is and take appropriate action,” he said.

Burton said this is to prevent people from taking the law into their own hands.

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“Right now, the law only requires that members of the sex offender registry provide that information to law enforcement. It’s not required that they share that with any member of the public,” Burton said.

However, some victims’ advocates believe the names of registered offenders should be connected to phone numbers that are being used to reach out to potential victims.

Shawna Burton works as a nurse specializing in rape victim recovery. She agrees that the registry needs to be updated, but she said it’s to easy for a predator to change an email address or Twitter handle.

“There are multiple outlets that they have if they want that access,” she said.

Still, Burton believes those names should be connected to phone numbers and internet identifiers.

“One of my concerns is I feel like a lot of laws are put into place to protect the offender and not necessarily the victims, or our community,” she said.

The draft bill being considered still has to go through the legislative process before it’s approved. If the bill passes as is, it would go into effect on May 1, 2024.



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