Sheriff says sex offender registry law needs reworking -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sheriff says sex offender registry law needs reworking

September 5, 2006

Albany -- The issue of school bus stops and how far sexual offenders have to live from them is still waiting to be decided by the courts. The Dougherty County Sheriff says he and other Georgia Sheriff's are asking legislators to draft a more clear sexual offender law, and give them the money to enforce it.

 Lt. Rebecca Williamson keeps track of Dougherty County's 253 sex offenders, knowing where they live and work. Sheriff Jamil Saba says it's a tough job that legislators mandated without any money to do it. Saba said "It's hard to get around and make sure where they are, and if they are telling you the truth."

July First, House Bill 1059 said that sex offenders must live more than one thousand feet away from school bus stops, playgrounds, schools, or place where children gather. The bus stop issue is being challenged in courts, so no offenders have been forced to move yet. But Sheriff's officials are enforcing all other parts of the law. Lt. Rebecca Williamson said "Everything you see here in the red, that's the thousand foot buffer in those areas where the children congregate."

The new sexual offender law makes them register for life, and report at least twice a year, or if they change jobs or homes. Williamson said "They don't won't to go back to prison, so therefore they will notify us of their changes."

 Williamson updates maps daily as sexual offenders move into Dougherty County, or change residences, so that people can keep up with who lives in their neighborhood. But Saba says children's safety is too important an issue for confusion.

Saba says Georgia Sheriff's believe Georgia legislators will more clearly spell out the school bus stops controversy. Saba said "We just need to verify a few things and make this thing logical. And if we can get it that way, we will be in good shape."

Then if legislators can supply money to pay for the deputy's needed to enforce their sex offenders law, Saba says he can better make sure Dougherty County kids stay safe.

 Sheriff Saba says the number of sexual offenders in Dougherty County continues to grow, with three more scheduled to arrive within the next month from prison.