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Several Florida university campuses launch sex offender database

Re-entering society after serving time for a sex crime conviction can be a daunting task. For many individuals in that scenario, it may feel like they have to start over. Former careers have long since ended, and individuals with a sex crime on their criminal record may encounter resistance from prospective employers.

Although employment laws generally prohibit questions about an applicant’s criminal past, a practical exception exists in the case of sex offenders required to register with the sex offender database. That publicly searchable database effectively circumvents the privacy afforded other criminal defendants who are trying to rebuild their lives.

In addition to sex offender registration, individuals convicted of a sex crime may now face additional scrutiny from classmates, in the event they decided to go back to school. Specifically, students at the University of Florida have been given access to a new online database of more than 60,000 registered sex offenders. Called University Search, the database lists convicted sex crime defendants who either attend or may be employees at Florida colleges or university, both public and private.

According to one university official, the database is intended as a public safety measure. However, a sex crimes attorney may question the value of the database, since state law already required convicted offenders subject to the registration requirement to notify their local sheriff’s office in the event of enrolling, working or even just volunteering at a post-secondary institution. In addition, at least one commentator questions whether parents would actually choose a different school based on sex offender enrollment data.

Source: alligator.org, “Sex offender database now includes university search,” Chris Alcantara, Oct. 14, 2013

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