- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Finding the nearest convicted child molester might be as easy as punching in a ZIP code on a computer keyboard, thanks to a bill that cleared Congress yesterday.

The House passed and sent to President Bush legislation establishing a national Internet database designed to let law enforcement and communities know where convicted sex offenders live and work.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales applauded the passage of the legislation. “America’s children will be better protected from every parent’s worst nightmare — sexual predators,” he said.

The most serious offenders would be registered on a national database for a lifetime. All sex offenders face a felony charge, punishable by 10 years in prison, for failing to update the information.

“This legislation would make it crystal clear to sex offenders, you better register, you better keep the information current, or you’re going to jail,” said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican.

The House passed it by voice vote. The Senate approved it with a voice vote last week.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that there are a half-million sex offenders in the United States and that as many as 100,000 are not registered, their locations unknown to the public and police.

Convicted criminals required to register will have to do so, in person, in each state where they intend to live, work or go to school.

“It’s time for all of our families to have access to this information,” said Rep. Earl Pomeroy, North Dakota Democrat.

Child advocates have said the bill offers the most sweeping effort in years to combat pedophiles. It is named for Adam Walsh, the slain son of “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh.

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