Sex offender registry needs an overhaul - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sex offender registry needs an overhaul

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –   The GBI registry you check to see if sex offenders live in your neighborhood may not give you the information you need. A state audit shows it contains numerous errors.

The GBI says the audit was a waste of money, because they've been telling state leaders for years they need more resources to operate the registry properly.

G.B.I. leaders say the state paid $250,000 to do the audit, but point out that since 2006 they have been alerting the Governor's Office that they could fix the problems for about $400,000.

Sheriffs agree the registry is essential, but say it's an unfunded mandate.

The GBI's online sex offender registry keeps up with 17,000 people. It's staffed by two people and one temp.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul says Sheriffs across the state have been dealing with the issue since 1998, when legislators required them to keep track of those criminals in their county.

"We understand that the state's broke, and most of the counties are broke. It's very difficult times and they have a difficult task at hand," said Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul.

The GBI tracks out of state sexual offenders who move into Georgia, working with the Sheriffs in the county they are moving to.

"It's very beneficial to have them tag team with us, with the information they provide us," Sproul said.

The state audit said the GBI takes too long to add out of state offenders. The GBI applied for federal grants for technology upgrades, but got nothing. They say the 250 thousand dollars used for the audit could have been better used to pay for needed computer upgrades.

"When you daughter or my son or somebody gets attacked money is not an issue. They want to know why a lot more wasn't done to protect them."

The GBI says they are already strapped by cutbacks, so they would like to see the state money used to solve problems that have already been reported, rather than pointing out flaws.

Right now, the Dougherty County Sheriff's office is responsible for keeping track of more than 240 sex offenders on the registry.

The most dangerous offenders are listed as sexual predators. Sheriff Sproul says three more Dougherty County sexual predators will be released from prison this year. He says they will be tracked by electronic monitors.

Anyone convicted of a dangerous sexual offense is required to register, and the registry is updated daily. If an offender fails to register or provides false information, that's a felony.

Right now there are 241 registered sex offenders in Albany; 236 of them are men and five are women.

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