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Tracking Down Sex Offenders

More than 2,000 known sex offenders scattered around the country after Katrina hit and officials worry some of them may try to get away with hurting children again.

The feds sent this ominous letter to Jeb Bush, warning that sex offenders who fled Hurricane Katrina may be hiding out in Florida and looking to harm children again.

Fortunately, says criminal intelligence analyst Leslie Rabon, many have voluntarily come forward to register their new Florida addresses.

Leslie Rabon says, "A lot of people know that they’re being watched and they’re being monitored, and if we don’t know they’re here now, when we do find them they’re going to go back to jail."

Sex offenders only have 48 hours to register an address change or face felony charges.

When an out-of-state sex offender registers, they must be fingerprinted. The fingerprint is sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which maintains the statewide sex offender registry.

The problem is officials don’t know how many evacuated sex offenders ended up in Florida and didn’t register. FDLE is finally getting a list of Louisiana’s known sex offenders and will cross-reference it against a list of those who applied for federal hurricane money and gave a Florida address, but spokesman Tom Berlinger says it wasn’t easy even getting that far.

Tom says, "A lot of it surrounds the fact that there are privacy concerns with people who apply for federal aid. There was concerns about whether they could release certain information."

Unfortunately, the only way some sex offenders may end up being found is if they commit a new offense.

Florida was set to receive the list of Louisiana's sex offenders Tuesday and expects lists from Mississippi and Alabama within a few days.


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