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E-mails notify when sex offenders move into ZIP code

State legislators announced the launch of a free statewide e-mail alert system that notifies registrants when a sex offender moves into a ZIP code.

The system, which now may be accessed through the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services at criminaljustice.state.ny.us/nsor/nyalert.htm, allows anyone to register up to three ZIP codes to receive notifications when a Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender moves into the area.

"New Yorkers deserve to have the convenience and peace of mind that these e-mail alerts bring," said Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), who sponsored the bill along with state Assemb. Rory Lancman (D-Queens). "This brings Megan's Law into the digital age," he added referring to the law that requires sex offenders to register their whereabouts with law enforcement.

Level 2 offenders have been deemed those who have a moderate likelihood of re-offending and Level 3 offenders are considered most likely to re-offend.

The new system does not, however, provide notification for Level 1 offenders, the largest group of sex offenders and those deemed least likely to re-offend.

Laura Ahearn, executive director of Stony Brook-based Parents for Megan's Law, said the new system is similar to a service her agency already provides.

But she added that her agency's system, which was installed with federal and state funding - and which she said is being upgraded to become a nationwide service - already provides information on all New York sex offenders, including Level 1 offenders.

It also allows registrants to access information in an unlimited number of ZIP codes.

"It's a duplication of services at a time when the state is in a fiscal crisis," she said. "But the more info that goes out, the better. We just think the state could have collaborated with us and everybody in the state could have had access to our service just by putting our address on the state's Web site."

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