Homes for registered sex offenders harder to find - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Homes for sex offenders harder to find

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  The Dougherty County Sheriff says it gets harder every day to find homes where registered sex offenders can legally live.

In Cobb County probation officers told sex offenders to camp out in woods.  That was a last resort because the offenders couldn't find housing that didn't violate the state's tough sex offender regulations.

State law says offenders must file an address with the Sheriff's Office in the county where they live. The Dougherty County Sheriff's office does what they can to make sure registered sex offenders have a legal place to live, but the Sheriff says that job is getting harder as the number of sex offenders increases.

When Registered sex offenders are released from prison, state law makes it very tough for them to find a place to live... but they are required to have a residence address.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul said "It is very harsh. Most of these individuals when they come out of prison, they are outcasts by society."

Registered sex offenders can not live within one thousand feet of any area where children may congregate, and increasingly there are fewer homes where they can live.

Sproul said "No when you look at every day or child care center. Every church. Every swimming pool, every park that kids can group. The YMCA, Boys Club, places like that. You put them on a map, and say you can't live within one thousand feet of any of those, it becomes very difficult."

The Georgia Supreme Court found that state requirements for homeless sex offenders were unconstitutionally vague, but left the residence requirements in place. Sheriff's Officials say the number of places registered sex offenders can live in Dougherty County is very limited now, as their numbers grow larger.

Sproul said "It's overwhelming at times. And the numbers increase."

There are currently 236 registered sex offenders in Dougherty County right now, including 28 in the jail. Four have absconded and are being sought by Deputies. Four are seeking homes, living in a motel until they can find a permanent residence.

Sheriff Sproul is currently installing new computer software and web sites to inform the public where registered sex offenders live in the community.

The new equipment should go on line next week.

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