Californian university students, faculty and staff who have been convicted of sex offences will from 2002 have to register with campus police under a state law.
Law enforcement officials applauded the law's enactment but civil libertarians said it would ostracise people.
The law applies to anyone who works on campus, including construction workers and contract employees. If they have been convicted of a sex crime they will have to register with university police and their criminal history will be open to anyone.
National legislation passed last year requires that universities identify convicted sex offenders on campus by 2003 or risk losing 10 per cent of the money they receive under federal criminal-justice grants.
Detective Sally Miller, of the Sonoma County Junior College Police Department, said:"Giving law enforcement agencies this critical information about sexual predators on campuses is a significant step in making safety within college and university communities a priority."
S. Daniel Carter, senior vice-president of the university security advocacy group Security on Campus, called the law "first-of-its-kind, landmark legislation".
But the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of California defence attorneys said the requirement would serve only to stigmatise people who have been judged to no longer pose a danger, and may even discourage them from getting the education many need to reform their lives.
Patricia Bates, the state assembly member who proposed the law, said:
"Registration will help campus police defend students and school staff from sexual predators".