Frequently Asked Questions

Using the NSOPW

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This page is intended to be a reference for using the National Sex Offender Public Website and its offender search options. For educational materials, please visit our Education and Prevention section. For information on monitoring, tracking, and registration, visit the SMART Office home page.

General Registry Questions

  1. I want to find out more information about a sex offender who is listed on your Website. What should I do?
  2. Why do some Jurisdictions give details that others do not (e.g., date of birth, specific offense penal codes)?
  3. Does NSOPW accept additional sex offender information that needs to be added to the Website?
  4. There is a mistake in the listed information about a particular sex offender contained on your Website. What should I do?
  5. If a sex offender is deceased, will he or she still appear on your Website?
  6. What are “Jurisdictions”?
  7. There is a sex offender who is registered in more than one Jurisdiction. Why is that?
  8. Why are there so many different registries?
  9. Does NSOPW have a single national database of all registered sex offenders from the registry Jurisdictions that participate with NSOPW?
  10. Does the U.S. Department of Justice provide sex offender information to private companies?

Technical Questions

  1. Does NSOPW offer a Web service or an application programming interface (API) so searches can be done programmatically?
  2. Can a Web site link to NSOPW?

Searching Questions

  1. Why do I have to accept the Conditions of Use before searching?
  2. Why do I have to enter an alphanumeric code before I can perform a search?
  3. What are the different ways to search for offenders?
  4. Do searches include U.S. territory and/or Indian country information?
  5. I have searched for a sex offender but cannot find a match. What should I do?
  6. I cannot find a sex offender that should be on your Website. What should I do?
  7. There is not enough information on the Website for me to determine what Jurisdiction a sex offender is located in. What should I do?
  8. Why is the state where I live not included in the Address Radius Search?
  9. Why do the search results say, “Too many matching offenders. Refine your search criteria”?
  10. The search result says that a particular Jurisdiction is “not available” at this time. What should I do?

Administrative Questions

  1. Why is the Website named the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website?
  2. Who manages NSOPW?
  3. How is NSOPW free?
  4. How is NSOPW different from the FBI’s National Sex Offender Registry?

01I want to find out more information about a sex offender who is listed on your Website. What should I do? back to top

To find additional information about a particular sex offender, you can try contacting registry officials in the Jurisdiction where that offender is registered.

Many times, registry officials will not be able to disclose any additional information about an offender but might be able to direct you to resources or offices within their Jurisdiction where you could find that information.

02Why do some Jurisdictions give details that others do not (e.g., date of birth, specific offense penal codes)? back to top

Each Jurisdiction has its own laws that determine the information that can and will be displayed on the public registry Website. Specific sex offender information can be found on a Jurisdiction’s Web site. See the NSOPW list of Jurisdictions to find the appropriate contact information.

03Does NSOPW accept additional sex offender information that needs to be added to the Website? back to top

The sex offender registration information that you see on NSOPW is retrieved from the individual Jurisdiction(s) where a sex offender is registered. To add any registration information, please contact the appropriate Jurisdiction registration officials.

04There is a mistake in the listed information about a particular sex offender contained on your Website. What should I do? back to top

The sex offender registration information that you see on NSOPW is retrieved from the individual Jurisdiction(s) where a sex offender is registered. To correct any errors in registration information, please contact the appropriate registration officials in those Jurisdictions.

05If a sex offender is deceased, will he or she still appear on your Website? back to top

Each Jurisdiction’s registration requirements might be different. Some, but not all, Jurisdictions require sex offender registration information to remain on their public registry Website even after they have died.

06What are “Jurisdictions”? back to top

The public sex offender registries hosting sex offender information are known as “Jurisdictions.” These Jurisdictions include the 50 states, U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and participating Indian tribes. The complete NSOPW list of Jurisdictions links users to each participating Jurisdiction’s Web site.

07There is a sex offender who is registered in more than one Jurisdiction. Why is that? back to top

Sex offenders are subject to the registration laws of the Jurisdictions where they work, live, attend school, or were convicted. Each Jurisdiction’s registration requirements might be different. Some Jurisdictions require a sex offender’s registration information to remain on the public registry Web site even after they have relocated to another Jurisdiction.

08Why are there so many different registries? back to top

Jurisdictions have their own laws that determine how sex offender information is collected, maintained, and displayed. Therefore, each Jurisdiction has its own registry comply with its laws.

09Does NSOPW have a single national database of all registered sex offenders from the registry Jurisdictions that participate with NSOPW? back to top

No. NSOPW primarily uses Web services to search the individual databases of the Jurisdictions in real time when a search is conducted. This method ensures that NSOPW is returning the most current information.

10Does the U.S. Department of Justice provide sex offender information to private companies? back to top

No. The U.S. Department of Justice does not maintain the sex offender information displayed on NSOPW and therefore does not have information to provide. All of the information provided through this Website is maintained by the separate Jurisdictions, and access to that information is controlled by the agency within each Jurisdiction responsible for registering sex offenders.

11Does NSOPW offer a Web service or an application programming interface (API) so searches can be done programmatically? back to top

No. The browser interface is the only way to search for sex offenders on NSOPW.

12Can a Web site link to NSOPW? back to top

Yes. NSOPW is committed to being a leading public safety resource. Therefore, we encourage and permit links to NSOPW content by other organizations committed to the safety and protection of the public. Please visit the Link to NSOPW page for more details.

13Why do I have to accept the Conditions of Use before searching? back to top

The Conditions of Use inform users of what are acceptable uses of the information provided, as well as what actions are illegal. Each participating Jurisdiction’s Conditions of Use are also included and must be agreed to in order to conduct a search.

14Why do I have to enter an alphanumeric code before I can perform a search? back to top

The program that generates and authorizes the alphanumeric code is called a CAPTCHA, which stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” The CAPTCHA is used to protect the availability of the Website and to preserve the integrity of the information available through the site.

15What are the different ways to search for offenders? back to top

NSOPW’s advanced search tool provides information about sex offenders through a number of search options:

  • By Name
  • By Address (if provided by Jurisdiction)
  • By Jurisdiction
  • By ZIP Code
  • By County (if provided by Jurisdiction)
  • By City/Town (if provided by Jurisdiction)
  • National

The criteria for searching are limited to what each individual Jurisdiction may provide. Also, because information is hosted by each Jurisdiction and not by the federal government, search results should be verified by the user in the Jurisdiction where the information is posted. Users are advised to visit the corresponding Jurisdiction Web sites for further information and/or guidance, as appropriate.

16Do searches include U.S. territory and/or Indian country information? back to top

Yes. In addition to the data from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the five principal U.S. territories and federally recognized Indian tribes that elect to function as registration Jurisdictions are included in search results.

17I have searched for a sex offender but cannot find a match. What should I do? back to top

Make sure that you have spelled the offender’s last name correctly. If you are unsure of the spelling of the first name, you may use a first initial in the search box.

If this does not work and you think that the person should be registered as a sex offender, you should contact the registry officials in the Jurisdiction where that person lives, works, or goes to school.

18I cannot find a sex offender that should be on your Website. What should I do? back to top

If you think that a person should be registered as a sex offender and you cannot find him or her on our Website, you should contact the registry officials in the Jurisdiction where that person lives, works, or goes to school. The 50 states, the District of Columbia, the five principal U.S. territories, and federally recognized Indian tribes that elect to function as registration Jurisdictions are all defined as “Jurisdictions” under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

19There is not enough information on the Website for me to determine what Jurisdiction a sex offender is located in. What should I do? back to top

Most Jurisdictions’ sex offender registry Web sites have a banner identifying themselves. Some, however, will appear in the NSOPW results window without that identifying information. To find out the Jurisdiction where that information originated, put your mouse arrow over the window with the registration information, right-click, click on “Properties,” and then cut-and-paste the “Address (URL)” http:// address into your browser’s address bar. This will take you to the individual Jurisdiction’s Web site, and you can continue your inquiry.

20Why is the state where I live not included in the Address Radius Search? back to top

For states to be included in the Address Radius Search, they must have the latitude and longitude for all their registered offenders’ addresses and be able to respond to address-based search requests from NSOPW. The states that are included in the Address Radius Search are the only ones currently providing this functionality to NSOPW. We are actively working with more states so they can be included soon. Check back in the future to see whether your state has been added.

21Why do the search results say, “Too many matching offenders. Refine your search criteria”? back to top

NSOPW will display only up to 300 results; therefore, this error indicates that the search performed has more than 300 matches.

22The search result says that a particular Jurisdiction is “not available” at this time. What should I do? back to top

Since NSOPW uses Web services to perform real-time searches of the individual Jurisdictions’ databases, any time a Jurisdiction has a system or Internet connectivity problem, that Jurisdiction’s database cannot be accessed by NSOPW. These problems are usually fixed quickly and very rarely result in a Jurisdiction being unavailable for more than an hour.

If a site is unavailable for more than an hour, please e-mail us at webmaster@nsopw.gov and let us know.

23Why is the Website named the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website? back to top

NSOPW was renamed by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), Title 1 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA) of 2006, in honor of 22-year-old college student Dru Sjodin of Grand Forks, North Dakota. For more information about Dru Sjodin, please visit the About Dru page.

24Who manages NSOPW? back to top

NSOPW is managed by the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) as authorized by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

25How is NSOPW free? back to top

NSOPW development and maintenance are federally funded through the U.S. Department of Justice to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). NSOPW is the only government system that exists to link public state, territory, and tribal sex offender registries from one national search site.

26How is NSOPW different from the FBI’s National Sex Offender Registry? back to top

The FBI’s National Sex Offender Registry is a database available only to law enforcement that is maintained by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division. Conversely, NSOPW is a public resource that searches the public sex offender registries from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the five principal U.S. territories, and federally recognized Indian tribes.