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New law forces sex offenders to register with UP

Want to know if the person sitting next to you in class has been convicted for a sexually related crime?
All it takes is a click of the mouse.
In accordance with a new federal law, the University Police have begun placing the names of individuals labeled as either sexual predators or offenders on its Web site. The Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act ó an amendment to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 ó requires all institutions of higher learning to notify the campus community that there is a sex offender or predator attending classes or working on university property. A person is pegged as a predator or offender depending on the level of the offense and when it occurred.
Sgt. Mike Klingebiel, spokesperson for the UP, said the law will keep students and faculty aware of the dangers they could face while on campus.
ìPeople donít necessarily think that they may be exposed to a criminal element on campus,î Klingebiel said, ìBut they are.î
Currently there are two individuals listed on the UPís Web site as sexual offenders, one attending classes on the Tampa campus and the other on the St. Petersburg campus.
And more detailed information, including the personís address and phone number, can be found on the Florida Department of Law Enforcementís Web site.
USF student Traci Landers says she feels safer knowing that people have access to such information.
ìI think itís good so I know who not to be around,î Landers said.
Sophomore Nina Lacevic agrees, saying the law acts as a deterrent.
ìIf people have information, it might prevent people from harming them in any way,î Lacevic said.
However, Mikal Condon of the Electronic Privacy and Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, said she isnít convinced that making such personal information available via the Internet is necessary.
ìItís over reaching to put that kind of information online because this information is only justified for publication in the local environment,î Condon said.
Instead, Condon suggested the information be provided on a ìneed-to-know basis.î
According to Klingebiel, an individual labeled as a sexual offender or predator must notify the UP immediately. If the individual fails to register, he or she could face jail time.
ìOnce theyíre branded sexual predators, they have to continue with registration,î Klingebiel said.