GAO: State Department Issued Passports to Registered Sex Offenders

By Matthew Harwood


Besides its lack of authority, the State Department also pointed out that it issued over 16 million passports in 2008—meaning less than 0.0003 percent of passports fell into the hands of registered sex offenders. Nevertheless, the GAO chose to use the imprecise description of "thousands" in the report's title, which doesn't reveal the minute percentages of passports issued to registered sex offenders, chides State.

(For more coverage of sex offenders inside the United States and within the global supply chain, see "Philadelphia-Area Schools Invest in Sex Offender Screening Software" and "Slaves in the Global Supply Chain.")

The report, however, does identify some rather surprising passport issuance policies.

For instance, incarceration doesn't stop a person from receiving a passport. In October of 2007, the State Department issued a passport to a Texas man then in prison for child pornography possession. He had previously been convicted of soliciting trips to Mexico to meet "young friends" with "other boy lovers," the GAO reports.

Another Texas sex offender, convicted of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in the early 1990s, was issued a passport in December 2007. He then informed his local police department that he was moving to Mexico—a popular destination for sex tourism, reports the GAO.

Mexico does not have a sex offense registration system.

♦ Photo by swanksalot/Flickr


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