Released sex offenders must comply with the law

As sheriff, I am often asked questions about the sex offender registry process. I know that this is of great concern to many of you and I hope this article will both enlighten you and increase your confidence that we are doing what needs to be done to make this community safe.

Individuals who are required to register as a sex offender in the state of Georgia, report directly to the sheriff of the county in which he or she resides within 72 hours of their release from prison, placement on parole, supervised release or probation to register as a sex offender. They must complete the registration forms and be photographed and fingerprinted. They must also update the information annually (in the case of dangerous sexual predators, every six months) or within 72 hours of any change in their information.

Sex offenders registered in Georgia normally remain on the sex offender registry for life. After they have been on the sex offender registry for 10 years and have completed their sentence, however, they may petition the courts for removal from the sex offender registry.

No registered sex offender may reside within 1,000 feet of a school, church, child care facility, public park, recreation center, public swimming pool or any place where children congregate.

Any individual who is required to register as a sex offender and who fails to comply with all registration requirements is guilty of a felony and subject to be punished by 10 to 30 years in prison if convicted.

If you know someone who is a sex offender and you believe that person is not complying with the law regarding registration, it is important that you report it. Otherwise, if it is determined that you are assisting such sexual offender in eluding law enforcement, you could be punished by five to 20 years in prison, if convicted.

Sex offenders are a serious threat to public safety, and I am serious about addressing that threat. I have dedicated one of my investigators, Lt. Rebecca Cranford, exclusively to this mission. Lt. Cranford maintains the sex offender registry for Dougherty County, monitors all registered offenders and investigates incidents and allegations of noncompliance with registration requirements.

I am proud to offer this service and protection to the citizens of Dougherty County, and I am honored to have your trust in doing so. If you would like more information or would like to search the sex offender registry, you can log into www.sheriffalerts.com/ga/dougherty. If you ever need me or have any questions, feel free to call my office at (229) 431-3259.

Sheriff Sproul is a longtime resident of Dougherty County. He is a graduate of Albany High School, Darton College, and LaGrange College of Albany. Sheriff Sproul has been employed with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office for 26 years and can be reached at (229) 430-6508.