Compare National Sex Offender Registry Databases
How up-to-date are some of the national sex offender registry databases?
A comparison of three of these sex offender registry databases was done and some surprising discoveries were made--one database contained outdated information and another was consistently more accurate and easier to search than several of the state's databases. The exact internet addresses used in the searches are listed at the bottom of the article.
Key Words: National Sex Registry Databases, finding sex offenders, Child Safe, National Sex Offender Public Registry, Family Watchdog,
Although each state has its own sexual offender's registry, there are several national databases as well. But how accurate and up-to-date are these databases? In order to test these databases, I decided to search each one using specific criteria.
To start my search, I chose four cities and four zip codes that corresponded with them: Downers Grove, IL, 60515; Severn, Maryland, 21144; Franklin, Tennessee, 37064; and Orange, CA, 92867. Of these cities, Severn, MD, was the only one that had one zip code for the whole city. Every other city had multiple zip codes.
I started my searches by putting each one through their state's individual database. I had thought that the state database would be the most up-to-date. After that was done, I entered the results into three national databases: the National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR), Child Safe, and Family Watchdog.
The results were both surprising and disappointing. According to the Illinois state registry, there are 21,067 registered sex offenders. Child Safe Network only had 9,742 records. Not only did Child Safe have only half of the registered sex offenders listed, but also their information was out-of-date.
It should be noted that Child Safe was the only network that requires someone to sign up before it can be accessed. Not only do they ask for your name and email address they also require you to enter your address, date of birth, and phone number. Then, after signing up, you are required to look at over a dozen pages of offers before you get to the main page. However, I discovered that once on this page, in order to search you have click on home and then log in. This wouldn't be so bad if their information was accurate, but it's not.
According to the Illinois registry, five sex offenders lived in the zip code 60515. All five were listed in NSPOR, only four were listed by Family Watchdog, and six were listed in Child Safe Network. I was surprised that Child Safe Network had listed six until I began comparing the names. Although the State, NSOPR, and Family Watchdog all had the same names listed; Child Safe had six different individuals.
This intrigued me and I began comparing the lists from the searches. Each time, the results listed in Child Safe Network were vastly different from the others. So, I tried taking names from the other database and doing searching for those individuals in Child Safe. Each time it came back saying "Not found records in database." I could comment on the grammar of that statement, but grammar is the least of its problems.
Frustrated, I tried reversing things around. I took the names that were pulling up in Child Safe and put them into the other databases. Each time, the state, NSOPR, and Family Watchdog databases had corresponding addresses. According to the white pages, the information in Child Safe was outdated.
In other words, if you were looking for Bob Jones, Child Safe could give you the wrong address for him. If you were trying to find sex offenders who lived in your neighborhood, Child find might tell you there is one living at 3584 Main Street. However, the offender that was living there has since moved on.
As I continued my searches, I was surprised to discover that more results were listed in the NSOPR database than any other database—including the state's individual registry. For three of the zip code searches, NSOPR found one more result than listed in the state's registry. The results were even more dramatic when searching by city. NSOPR found twenty-nine results for Severn compared to eighteen in the Maryland registry and thirty-three records for Franklin compared to twenty in the Tennessee registry. Both NSOPR and the state's individual registry listed the same number of results for Downers Grove, IL, and Orange, CA. Family Watchdog had significantly less results for each of the city searches: seven for Downers Grove, seventeen for Severn, nineteen for Franklin and forty-five for Orange.
One other thing that should be noted about both NSOPR and Child Safe, is that searches by name would not always pull up corresponding results. For example, when I entered "Severn" I got results for Severna Park as well.
The National Sex Offender Public Registry was the most up-to-date and easy to search of all the databases. It is also good for states that have unsearchable databases. For example, Minnesota's registry is only searchable by name or birth date. However, the NSOPR allows you to search areas in Minnesota by city and zip code. Family Watchdog is nice only because it gives you a map and allows you to see where offenders are living on a map. Although the results were consistently less accurate than the State and National registry, they were not near as bad as Child Safe.
Sex Offender Registry Database Web Sites:
A listing of all 50 state sexual offender registries can be found on the FBI's website:
National Sex Offender Public Registry:
Family Watch Dog:
Child Safe Network:
Illinois State Registry:
California State Registry:
Maryland State Registry:
Tennessee Sexual Offender Registry
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