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Due to the threat from the coronavirus, the Oakland, Calif., Police Department has closed its registry unit where many of the city’s sex offenders are required to check in every month, officials said.
Now, the city of Oakland has no up-to-date addresses or other important information on hundreds of offenders – particularly transient sex offenders – raising concerns from victims' advocates and offenders who are trying to register alike.
“We’ve put a whole population at risk and I find that very, very concerning,” said Nina Salarno-Besselman, an attorney with Crime Victims United, a public safety and victims’ advocacy group that fought to pass California’s Megan’s Law in the 1990s.
The law created a public sex offender database that’s controlled by the state Department of Justice.
Offenders who qualify must register with their local police departments every year. Transient sex offenders must update where they’ll be staying every 30 days. And anyone released from jail or prison has five days to register.
Other cities in the Bay Area and California have found ways to still keep tabs on sex offenders, like updating registrants’ information by phone or in person.