Bill Backs Idea of Web Site for Criminal Records
Redmon, Jeremy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
RICHMOND - A Virginia Beach lawmaker said yesterday he will sponsor a bill to put the rap sheets of all Virginia criminals on the Internet.
"There is no logical reason for the state to withhold this information from the public," Republican Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle said. "There should be broad support in the General Assembly to do this."
However, Mr. Stolle predicts he will have a tough time convincing legislators to include misdemeanors on the Web site because they are "lesser crimes."
The bill will make its first appearance in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
Mr. Stolle is a member of the Virginia State Crime Commission, which came up with the idea of putting rap sheets in cyberspace.
Opening such records on the Internet is an emerging trend.
More than 1.9 million searches have been conducted on Virginia's sex-offender Web site, which went on line Dec. 29. The site is so popular that Maryland corrections officials want to duplicate it.
Texas put criminal records on the World Wide Web for the first time in September 1997. And Florida started its own Web site last March, including photographs of the convicts.
The level of detail available is one reason opponents don't want rap sheets put on the reports on the Internet.
The Washington-based Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, an advocacy group for prisoners, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the Washington-based Campaign for an Effective Crime Policy all oppose the idea. …