California was the first state in the nation to initiate a Sex Offender Tracking Program in 1947, but until 1996, when California Megan's Law (CML) was initiated, information about sex offenders was not publicly available. Megan's Law is named after 7 year old New Jersey girl Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed by a known molester who lived across the street from her family. All states now have a form of Megan's Law.
On September 24, 2004, AB 488 was signed into law in California, providing the public Internet access to sex offender information at www.meganslaw.ca.gov. There are over 64,000 offenders in the CML database, including over 33,500 have home addresses listed due to the nature of their crimes and 30,500 listed by zip code only. Another 22,000 or so sex offenders are known by law enforcement but are not required to be listed on the website.
This is a website that deserves a look, particularly by anyone who is a parent. While the website is not meant to "punish" sex offenders, it is a useful awareness tool. The powerful search engine on the site allows you to search by name, address, city, zip and county, as well as within a 2 mile radius of parks and schools. You can also review the results of your search in both map and listing format, making it quite convenient.
The information in the CML database is not always up to date for each individual. The severity of the offenses for each individual vary from the more violent (rape, battery) to statutory rape, indecent exposure, etc.