Raleigh, N.C. — A bill that passed a state Senate committee Thursday would require sex offenders to register just not just their home addresses with the state, but their e-mail addresses, too.
The Internet has made it uncomfortably easy for sexual predators to find victims. Lawmakers’ goal with the legislation is to make it easier for people to find the offenders.
“It's just very important to do every thing we can to protect our kids,” said Sen. Julia Boseman, D-Hanover, the bill’s sponsor.
The legislation also would require that sex offenders any online names they use for chat rooms or instant messaging. Those identifiers would then be available to Internet service providers to screen users and track any questionable activity.
While there is no way to guarantee sex offenders would obey the law and submit their Internet names, Boseman said the bill would make it a felony not to register them.
“They can lie about it. There's no doubt about it. But if we find out they've lied about it, then we're going to put them back in prison,” Boseman said.
She said she believed the e-mail addresses also would help law enforcement track what registered sex offenders are doing on the Internet.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said there will be challenges in making the law work as intended, but it is a good idea regardless.
“I'm glad they're looking at it this way. I think it'll be a big help to us,” Harrison said.
Whether the e-mail addresses would appear on the stat’s sex-offender registry Web site would be up to the Department of Justice.
The full Senate would have to pass the bill and then the House. The bill calls for $500,000 to help with enforcement, but Boseman believes the bill could pass without the funding.