By Lauren Victory
WATERBURY - Some 1,485 active registered sex offenders live in Vermont. There are 12 in Essex Junction, a number that doesn't surprise some residents.
"No, I think that's probably, for this area, reasonable," said Mary Lynn, who lives in Essex Junction.
But now Bruce Parizo at the Vermont Crime Information Center says the public can learn more about sex offenders living nearby -- information like where they were arrested and about his or her crime are available on a new Vermont sex offender registry website.
"Our goal is to get the information out to the public so they have the most accurate and complete data in a timely fashion so we can in fact ensure their safety within the scope of what we do," said Parizo, who works as the VCIC's deputy director.
The new system, called Offender Watch, brings Vermont in line with at least 34 other states when it comes to tracking sex offenders.
One new feature: The ability to get email notifications when a sex offender moves into town. The problem is for people living on a town line. Parizo said they might not get an alert if a sex offender moves into the neighboring town.
Still, at least some people think it's a great idea.
"That would be quite valuable, particularly for people with families and kids or women living alone," said Lynn.
Parizo said the system is even outfitted to track offenders within a specified radius, though Vermont law does not allow it. That feature is not currently activated.
"We're hoping as time progresses and the Legislature develops some confidence in the data, that they will then move forward in allowing the publication of actual addresses on offenders," he said.
- And thus opening them, their families and children' lives to potential danger from vigilantes.