Illinois to Post Sex Offender List on the Internet

The Illinois State Police soon will post a list of all known sex offenders in the state on its World Wide Web site. The list, which will include offenders' names, dates of birth, addresses and whether their victims were younger than 18 years old, is scheduled to be up by Nov. 15.

The first phase will enable users to search by ZIP code, city or county. Future applications will allow for name searches and will include pictures of the offenders whenever possible, state police spokesman Mark McDonald said. Springfield, Ill.-based Gis Solutions Inc., a systems design and consulting company, is assisting the police in the Internet initiative.

Some local sheriffs' departments in Illinois, including Cook County's, have posted lists of sex offenders within their counties, but the state police effort will blanket the entire state. The Cook County Sheriff's Department's site (www.cookcountysheriff.org) was the first of its kind in Illinois, launched in August 1998, and it has received an "overwhelmingly positive response" from users, said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the department.

"We've gotten a tremendous response, particularly from the average public user of the Internet," Daly said. "Initially we had some questionable responses from the media, the ACLU [and offenders] about violating the rights of the offenders...but it's public information under state law, and we feel real confident that it was the appropriate action."

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