MEGAN’S LIST ONLINE (Local group posts high-risk sex offenders on a Web site)

Parents for Megan's Law, a private group, posted New York State's public list of high-risk sexoffenders and their address, physical description, type of offense, sentence length, aliases andvehicle information on the Internet yesterday. They say the government has lagged in making theinformation easily available to citizens. Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan'sLaw said, It's atrocious. It's outrageous that our state did not have this information online.Predatory sex offenders…will do anything to get at our kids. The organization is a non-profitgroup based in Stony Brook that support mandatory registration of sex offenders. Barbara Bernstein,executive director of the Nassau County branch of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the Website was a bad idea. She said, My objection is that it's going to be counterproductive, it's goingto drive people underground. While the neighborhood has a right to know, why does the entire freeworld? Until yesterday, citizens could view the public registry only at police departments or bymaking a $5 telephone call, which requires callers to already know the identity of the offender.The Parents for Megan's Law Web site is linked to more than 150 other sites in 31 states related tosex offender registries. The state government refused to allow police departments to provide theinformation to the group on computer disk, or in photocopy form, which would have made the taskeasier, so volunteers from the group had to hand-copy the information about offenders from theregistry available at police departments.