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On January 23, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released the results of its latest survey regarding the number of registered sex offenders located in the U.S. The organization’s most recent survey of states found there are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the country today, which represents an increase of 7,555 offenders from the previous survey in June 2011.
NCMEC conducted its first survey in 2006, which showed there were 606,816 registered sex offenders in the U.S. In just five years, an additional 140,592 convicted sex offenders have been added to sex offender registries across the country, an increase of 23.2%. The three states with the largest number of registered sex offenders are California (106,216), Texas (68,529), and Florida (57,896).
“The courts have long held that the requirement that a convicted sex offender register with authorities is not punitive, it is regulatory,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC. “It is a reasonable measure designed to provide important information to authorities and to help protect the public, particularly children.
These registries are especially important because of the high risk of re-offense by some of these offenders, and the fact that most of the victims of America’s sex offenders are younger than 18 years of age.” The first sex offender registry was created in 1947 in California. Today, every state has such a registry.
NCMEC created the survey in 2006, following the enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in July of that year. Each year since the survey was created, NCMEC contacts the sex offender registry in each state as well as registries located in the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. Croix maintain separate sex offender registries, bringing the total number of registries surveyed to 57. “America has awakened to the threat posed by sex offenders,” said Allen. “Today, there is a system in place. Law enforcement is more vigilant and common-sense steps have been taken to better protect the public, particularly the children.”
NCMEC has conducted 13 sex offender register surveys since 2006 and were performed quarterly until 2009. Since then, they have been done twice each year.
In 2006, NCMEC also created a special dedicated Sex Offender Tracking Team. This group of analysts — working with the U.S. Marshals Service and state and local law enforcement — accesses donated public records data and aids in locating an estimated 100,000 noncompliant or fugitive sex offenders.
To date, NCMEC has received 15,802 requests from law enforcement nationwide to assist in locating noncompliant sex offenders and has provided 15,763 analytical leads packages to law enforcement, resulting in the apprehension of thousands of fugitives.