Court orders state to trim sex offender list

Convictions before 1994 must be removed from state registry

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2002

ANCHORAGE - Alaska officials have temporarily blocked public access to the state's list of registered sex offenders.

State officials put the block in place Friday following a federal judge's ruling. The order by U.S. District Judge Russel Holland bars the state from posting names of sex offenders convicted of crimes committed before Aug. 10, 1994.

Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Glenn Godfrey said the state will comply but added he is disappointed in the ruling.

While the names of specific offenders are segregated, the state has temporarily blocked public access to the names of all 4,300 offenders listed on a state Web site. The state needs time to develop computer programs that will segregate offenders' names by date.

About 65 percent of the names will be removed, according to officials.

Modeled after New Jersey's pioneering "Megan's Law," Alaska's sex-offender law lets the public track known sex offenders. The law requires that serious sex offenders register their whereabouts four times a year for life.

The law was made retroactive when it was passed in 1994.

Last April, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the burden was too harsh for offenders who were convicted before the law was passed. The panel then sent the case back to the lower court.

Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for Alaska State Troopers, said it's unclear when the new, shorter version of the list will be back on line.

"It sounds like a fairly simple process but I don't know how long it will take," he told the Anchorage Daily News.

Wilkinson said the court action doesn't change the way the state now handles sex offense cases.

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