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Sex offender registry website improved


MADISON, Wis. (WSAU) -- Upgrades in a state website have made it easier for anyone to keep track of sex offender locations in their neighborhood.

Grace Roberts with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections says the old website allowed people to check on sex offenders if they knew a name or a zip code. She says the upgrade allows users to simply search a geographical area around a specific address.  “We’ve actually increased some functionality for the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry website to include the ability to do geographic searches for registered sex offenders within a one, two, or three mile radius of a specific address.”

The changes don’t eliminate the old way of looking up offenders. Roberts says this just gives users more options.  “They can still do those type of searches by name or by zip code, or they can do the geographic radius search within a certain distance of that address, so it increases the ability to know on a smaller scale their immediate neighborhood, where they live, work, or go to school, or any other area of interest to them.

Roberts says there are many sex offenders in nearly every community, and this tool gives families the ability to know where they are. She says it’s important for keeping your family safe, especially if you might be hiring for certain jobs.  “I tell citizens that it’s helpful when you’re looking to hire somebody for child care purposes or a coach, this is kind of your first place to stop and check by name, if you have that person’s name, so you can see if somebody is a registered sex offender.”

The department also upgraded website features for law enforcement that are not seen by the general public, including improved data access on juvenile offenders.

(Listen to our interview with Grace Roberts on our website, here.)