Lt. Rebecca Cranford, sex offender registrar, Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office, gives citizens an overview of the sex offender registry in Saturday. Cranford was featured at a Town Hall Meeting.
ALBANY — The subject of Saturday’s town hall meeting, held at the Law Enforcement Center on Pine Avenue, was Dougherty County’s sex offender registry and how it’s used to manages and track some 321 paroled sex offenders.
The meeting, presented by Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines, featured Lt. Rebecca Cranford, sex offender registrar for the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office. Addressing an audience of around a dozen concerned citizens, Cranford gave an overview of the registry system as samples of current offenders, their mug shots and data scrolled in the background. The visuals were a part of the OffenderWatch system, which Cranford said makes her job a “whole lot easier.”
“It costs $7,000 a year,” Cranford said, “and it’s worth every penny. You can’t even hire a deputy for that.”
In general, according to Georgia law, any person convicted of a sexual offense, released from prison, placed on probation or on supervised release before July 1, 1996 must register as a sex offender. Exceptions include those convicted for misdemeanor sexual offenses after June 30, 2001 and those prosecuted for offenses in juvenile court after June 30, 2001. Once included in the registry, most remain there for life, Cranford said.
“When you’ve been included in the registry for 10 years you can petition the court to be removed,” Cranford said. “But there’s no guarantee.”
Cranford said many offenders listed on the registry are prohibited from residing within 1,000 feet of public buildings or areas known to be gathering places for minors, including school bus stops, parks, churches, clubs and in some cases public libraries.
Georgia does not currently require juvenile offenders to register, Cranford said. However, the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, does require juvenile registration and Cranford said Georgia will soon be in compliance with that law.
“Please be actively involved in the community,” Cranford urged, “If you know anything about sex offenders breaking the rules or living in a place that’s not allowed, call me at the sheriff’s office. We rely on information from the public.”
Cranford cited a recent case in which a convicted sex offender managed to cut away his mandated tracking ankle bracelet and leave his residence. Cranford said her office was tipped off by a concerned neighbor.
To view the registry, Cranford suggests visiting the Dougherty Sheriff’s Office website at www.doughertysheriff.com and scroll to the middle box near the bottom. Clicking there provides additional information on the the sex registry, including free email alerts concerning registered sex offenders relocating near you. Cranford can be reached at (229) 431-3228.