Thursday, March 14, 2013

Registry updated

Over the course of the past few weeks, the Nebraska State Patrol has rolled out new software for its public Sex Offender Registry website. Without much fanfare, the registry has been significantly updated. Here are a few examples of the new functionality.

1. Search by name
You can now search by first name, last name, or both. You could, for example, search for registered sex offenders whose first name is Edward. The name search automatically uses wildcards, so if you searched for a last name of "Rob", the results would return Roberts, Robertson, Robbins, and even Frobish. The more letters you add, the more specific the results. There must be some soundex algorithim at work as well, since the "Rob" search also returns Rabinowitz.

2. Larger thumbnails
The images returned from a search are significantly larger, a nice improvement.  Click on the image to open the offender's information page, with the full size image.

3.. Mapping
Search results produce a map, using the Google Maps API.  It may not be 100% accurate, but it's pretty close, and definitely a nice upgrade. Click the icon for the basic information in a pop-up label, and click the label to hyperlink to the details. Or, if you prefer, just scroll down to the results displayed below the map. You can zoom, pan, turn the aerial images on and off, and even use Pegman for StreetView within the Google Maps pane.

4. Buffer search
Click the "Search by Location" button, and you can input an address and select a buffer of 1, 2, or 3 miles.  Previously, you could search only within boundaries, such as zip codes, cities, or counties.  The ability to select a buffer distance is an improvement. I would prefer a choice for one smaller unit (such as a half mile) but it is still a good feature.

5. Subscriptions
Click the link "Notify Me" and you will have subscribed to that offender.  You will receive an email with the information anytime this offender's information has been updated.  This is a useful feature, similar to some of the internal subscriptions we offer in the LPD records management system, or to the inmate notification feature available to the public in the excellent VINELink application.

There are a number of other little details, but overall, the new look of the Nebraska Sex Offender Registry is sleek, and the functionality a major improvement over its predecessor. Well done!


Anonymous said...

Now if they'd just have a registry for those previously-convicted of non-justifiable homicide, robbery, burglary, and felony theft.

Anonymous said...

You've got your low-risk RSOs that shouldn't even be RSOs. For a hypothetical example of that (I watched a great law professor who used to set up scenarios like this to put things into a gray area):

Consider a 17 year old male, one day from his 18th birthday, and kind of naive. His intimate GF is a 15 year old female, 2 days away from her 16th birthday. He's a short, skinny guy, about 5'4". She's a big girl, about 6'0", a middle blocker in the making, and very wise to the ways of the world. He couldn't make her do anything she didn't want to do; she could stomp him at will. Legal, illegal, legal again.

I guess this is where I state that I am not, and never have been in any situation like that myself. I just like to push minds into unfamiliar territory, where it's not all clear-cut.

They've been neighbors or went to the same school or whatever for much of their lives. Today, they can and do have consensual sex, as they can the day after tomorrow - but if they do so tomorrow, for just that one day, he's somehow a sex offender and a felon.

Then you've got your high-risk, dyed-in-the-wool predatory sex offenders who should never be on a registry - because they should never be let back out on the street. Here's an example of one of those:

Sexual Predator

Tom Casady said...


I understand your point. In Nebraska, the key ages are 19 and 15: it is a crime for anyone 19 years of age or older to have sexual intercourse with someone 15 years of age or younger.

Our State handles the low-high risk continuum by assigning offenders to one of three time periods for which they must register: 15 year, 25 year, and lifetime. Even the lowest 15 year registration, however, has a huge impact on one's employment and housing prospects.

I do not think it is likely that you will see legislative bodies backing away from these laws anytime soon in the United States. The best advice is the old adage: "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

Anonymous said...

Yes, and no girl has ever overstated her age by a year, knowing that her real age would cause the young man to steer clear. Nope, never happened.

Anonymous said...

You do have a tendency to pin a rose on the efficiency and overall technical niftiness of the sex offender registry system, without ever asking if it should even exist in the first place (especially for the "low-risk" offenders), or if sex offenses should be treated differently than other violent and non-violent crimes. Why should a person who tortures and beats a child to death, but has no sexual component to their crime, not be on any sort of publicly accessible registry after they serve their sentence and complete their parole (say he becomes a cause celebe, writes a book or something), whereas the hypothetical consensual statutory rape offender will be on such a list for 15 years. Is that because engaging in consensual sex is more traumatizing than being tortured and killed? How does that figure? Make the older one a tiny 5'0" 19 year old woman, and the younger one a 6'5" 15 year old boy one day short of his 16th birthday (and lying about his age), and see if it's any different.

It's easy to duck the issue, and just say, that's the law, we just enforce it, the rest is up to elected legislators. I won't go Godwin here, but that would be so easy to do. Just following orders, all perfectly legal, you know - was it right - not their problem.

You know better than most that some categories of violent offenders, armed robbers for instance, have a very high rate of reoffending. We put them back on the street anyway, and we don't have them on any sort of public registry, not even when they are still on parole, even though they are more likely than not to rob again. Why do we let them out? Because we won't admit that it's worth the cost to the taxpayer to keep them locked up until they are old and so broken down that they are no longer a significant threat to the public.

Either they're safe enough to be on the street or they aren't.

Tom Casady said...


All good questions to ask your state senator, I suppose, but not the topic of my post. I have, however, blogged, written, spoken, and testified before about some of the unintended and potentially counterproductive ramifications of certain aspects of sex offender registration--especially residency restrictions.

Anonymous said...

Here's something not Godwinish at all, timely, and fairly relevant in the way of an extremely stupid law passed by a legislature, then enforced by police and prosecutors "just doing their jobs". In the end, it was chucked out, at significant cost to the taxpayers for defending the ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Here's an example of a violent felon with an established pattern of reoffending, and he's not required to be any registry. He gets sent up for robbery. He then gets banged up for robbery again (and felon is possession of a deadly weapon). Yesterday, he takes two shots at his GF with a gun, something he's prohibited to even touch. Maybe it would be a better deal for the taxpayer and public safety in general to just keep him locked up forever.

If you can require sex offenders to be on a registry forever, you should be able to (with legislation) require those convicted of robbery to wear tracking bracelets (at their own expense, like an ignition interlock), and make it a felony to remove or tamper with the device. If it stops working, for whatever reason, a felony warrant goes out for their arrest.