While technology continues to change our everyday lives, the State of Arkansas is also using it to keep our communities safer. The Arkansas Crime Information Center has recently launched a new online system that will help state officials and local law-enforcement protect our children, neighborhoods and communities.
Known by its acronym, CENSOR, this new system is a Centralized Electronic Network of Sex Offender Registries. It provides local law-enforcement officers and the Department of Corrections with the technology and tools to efficiently register sex offenders. In short, it creates a sex-offender registration process that is faster and safer, and saves our taxpayers money. Along with notifying the public sooner, the system also increases accountability for offenders, giving law-enforcement agencies more confidence in tracking those offenders who are living in their communities.
We were able to develop the CENSOR system with a federal grant designed to assist local law-enforcement agencies with the processing and monitoring of sex offenders in their communities. It equips law-enforcement officers with an electronic signature pad and Web cameras to verify the identities of sex offenders and keep updated photos of them during subsequent visits.
Offenders are given their signed paperwork to take with them at their initial registration and subsequent verification visits. Officials can then electronically submit a completed registration directly to ACIC. The reduction in paper forms and mailing costs is expected to save taxpayers $55,000 a year, while speeding up sex-offender assessment and public notification.
The Department of Correction has been taking additional steps to accelerate the assessment process. The Sex Offender Screening and Assessment Program has streamlined procedures and trained additional technical staff. Since last fall, these improvements have nearly doubled the number of assessments completed by the Department each month.
While the law protects the right to due process for all citizens, including sex offenders, the CENSOR system provides law enforcement and the public with the most current information, as soon as it is available. These recent advancements in our registration and tracking systems will improve coordination and communication, allowing state agencies and local law enforcement to better inform and protect our citizens.
The ACIC provides a Sex Offender Registry Search for Arkansans who wish to access it. This information is updated regularly, and users can search for sex offenders by address or by name. The site also offers e-mail and phone notifications of updates of offender addresses.
ACIC has been able to achieve this remarkable improvement in managing our state's sex-offender registry due in large part to its partnership with the Information Network of Arkansas (INA), whose primary objective is to provide technology and tools to make the jobs of law enforcement easier. I am very pleased with this system that will help keep our citizens more secure and hold offenders more accountable.