Hit list: deadly sex offender registries.

Author:Cavanaugh, Tim
Position:Stephen A. Marshall kills sex offenders - Brief article

ON EASTER Sunday, Stephen A. Marshall, a 20-year-old Cape Breton dishwasher visiting Maine, borrowed his father's truck, rifle, and two handguns, shot and killed two men in two different towns, then boarded a bus to Boston, where he was approached by police and shot himself. Marshall's motive for the murders is still unclear, but his method of selecting victims is not: He found them on Maine's online registry of sex offenders.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia maintain Web sites providing information on convicted sex offenders who have been released from prison. States differ in how much information they provide. Maine's registry provides users with home addresses, employment addresses, photos, and legal descriptions of the crimes that landed offenders on the registry.

The justification for maintaining such public lists rests on the presumption that sex offenders have higher recidivism rates than other criminals--though Bureau of Justice statistics indicate that rapists are...

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