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Tighter oversight of sex offenders urged in Va., N.Y.

Officials press for polygraphs, e-mail registry

RICHMOND, Va. -- Officials in two states proposed unusual plans yesterday to tighten oversight of convicted sex offenders: Virginia's attorney general wants them to register their e-mail addresses and online IDs, and New York officials want them to take lie-detector tests.

In New York, the parolees' answers to a computer-based polygraph test about their whereabouts could be used to justify electronic monitoring, prohibit Internet use or restrict travel, said Division of Parole spokesman Scott Steinhardt.

He said 13 officers had already been trained on the equipment, and the division's lawyer approved the plan, but the state Attorney General's office has not reviewed it.

"This is not a panacea; it's not a magic bullet," Ellis said. "However, the Division of Parole believes it could substantially enhance the effective supervision and containment of sex offenders."

In Virginia, Attorney General Bob McDonnell said yesterday that he would seek legislation to require convicted sex offenders there to register their online identities with the state to help MySpace and other online teenage hangouts more easily block access.

Senators Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, and John McCain, an Arizona Republican, announced plans for similar federal legislation last week, but theirs would apply only to those on probation or parole. McDonnell's plan for Virginia would apply to all convicted sex offenders.

Parents, school administrators, and law enforcement authorities have grown increasingly worried that teens are at risk on MySpace and other social-networking sites, which provide tools for messaging, sharing photos, and creating personal pages known as profiles.

Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer, applauded the Virginia announcement.

"This legislation is an important recognition that the Internet has become a community as real as any other neighborhood and is in need of similar safeguards," Nigam said.

Nationwide, there are more than 550,000 registered sex offenders. Virginia counts 13,000 of them.

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