Is the Tide Turning Against Public Sex Offender Registries?

On June 8, the American Law Institute, arguably the most prestigious non-governmental law reform organization in the country, concluded its national meeting.

One of its agenda items was to have its thousands of elected members—top federal appeals judges among them, who enjoy lifetime appointments after being confirmed by the United States Senate—vote on a draft of the revised chapter of the Model Penal Code for sex crimes. The Model Penal Code, first codified in 1962, helps guide legislation as well as interpretative decisions by courts.

ALI’s membership voted to approve the most recent draft, which included seismic proposed changes to state sex offender registries.

Perhaps most importantly, the approved draft states that these registries should be limited to law enforcement access for law enforcement purposes, as is the case in virtually every other country besides the US.

Currently, the identities of people registered as having committed sex crimes can be searched on public online databases, along with a slew of other data including their home addresses. The rationale for this has been that it enables parents to make informed decisions about who their children can interact with. But it also means that exileextortion and vigilante violence are often perpetrated against people with such convictions, and even their family members.

Today, Supreme Court jurisprudence still holds that public registries of this kind are not “punishment,” though lower courts are growing more skeptical.

ALI’s proposed changes would match the recommendations of the academic literature, which shows that people convicted of sex offenses have low reoffense rates and that public registration hinders rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Studies show that beyond rehabilitation, public registration is already such a thoroughly soul-crushing punishment that it disincentivizes following the law for people subject to it. Nonetheless, politically speaking, this change to state registries would be an almost impossible endeavor.

Several traditional victims’ rights organizations and one major prosecutor organization, the National District Attorneys Association, previously pleaded with ALI membership to reject the draft of the revised chapter. The NDAA represents elected top local prosecutors nationwide. On June 4, these groups sent a letter questioning sentencing ranges for certain crimes, which crimes qualify a person for the registry, and other items.

Influential groups on both sides of the debate have shifted.

What is actually surprising is what they left out.

The letter states that the suggestion that the registry be restricted to law enforcement access is problematic because there is “no exception for organizations conducting background checks for employment or volunteer positions which involve interaction with or care of children.”

This is a reasonable point of debate. The United Kingdom, for example, allows these types of organizations to inquire about its national registry on a need-to-know basis.

But the letter makes no following argument that registries should be public for all purposes for anyone who wants to know. This omission is essentially a tacit concession that there is no legitimate public safety argument to be made in favor of a public registry—that any marginal gains of parents being able to search online registries are outweighed by the well-documented harms of such public exposure.

So while the international outlier status of the US on this issue isn’t about to end, influential groups on both sides of the debate have shifted in that direction.

We should remember that some people are placed on sex offender registries for relatively innocuous reasons, such as close-in-age sexual relationships or public urination. Others have committed egregious crimes. Regardless, there is, as you’d expect, little public sympathy for anyone on the register.

That does not make it acceptable to treat people, even those who have done terrible things, as less than human. There has to be a way back into society, and the chance of a rebuilt life, for people who have been convicted or incarcerated.

Reasonable public protection measures, as we see elsewhere in the world, are warranted. But it is not justifiable that our official government policy is to put these people on a hit list for permanent shaming, ostracization and vigilante targeting. Nor should their loved ones be dismissed as collateral damage, like they are today.


Sexual offense registries: “Somewhere along the line, we lost our way.”


By Diane Diamond . . . Those who fight for a more equitable way to keep track of sexual predators won a big victory in Michigan last week. That is a state with some 44,000 names on its sexual offenders registry.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland put his foot down and gave the Michigan legislature 60 days to rewrite its current “unconstitutional” registry statute. Last spring, Cleland set a 90-day deadline for lawmakers to rework the law, but he was ignored. This time, he’s serious.

Everyone agrees we need to keep track of career sex criminals after they are released from prison. Once they’ve been convicted of violent sex crimes, it’s possible they’ll reoffend. A public safety monitoring system makes sense.

But understand that these state registries — there is one in every state — are bloated beyond belief with many names that shouldn’t be there. Registries were mandated by federal law in the mid-’90s to keep watch over ex-convict pedophiles who sexually targeted children. Somewhere along the line, we lost our way.

Included in the registry over the years have been: a 10-year-old female caught “play-acting sex” and then branded with “criminal sexual conduct” charges; a 19-year-old boy caught with his 15-year-old girlfriend; drunks discovered urinating or streaking in public; average citizens unjustly accused of sex crimes during ugly divorces; and men duped into believing that an intimate partner was not a minor when she was. Many of these people, often caught up in a moment of normal human passion, have been forced to register as sex criminals —for the rest of their lives.

Read the rest of the piece here at

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Group confronts Cobb County sheriff over ‘invented requirements’ imposed on sex offenders

The letter sent to Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren was written by a national organization that advocates for the rights of sexual offenders

ATLANTA — A sex offender rights group is accusing the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office of overstepping Georgia’s sex offender registration laws.

In a letter sent this week to Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren, the North Carolina based National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws (NARSOL) claims deputies are “imposing invented requirements not contained in Georgia law.”

NARSOL Executive Director Brenda Jones, in the letter, writes the requirements the sheriff’s office is imposing are considered harassment. The letter includes four specific claims against the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office.

First, registrants are allegedly being required to have personal contact four to 10 times a year at a deputies’ discretion – a requirement NARSOL claims isn’t detailed in state law.

Second, deputies are accused of leaving cards demanding registrants call or face arrest, in excess of required sex offender renewal requirements.

“You do not have any authority to arrest a person who chooses not to call,” the letter states. “Registrants are not required to call the sheriff’s office simply because a deputy would like to have them do so.”

Third, deputies are described in the letter as knocking on doors and demanding to speak with registrants “outside of reasonable hours” and beyond what state law details.

Fourth, sex offender list registrants are also claiming when renewing or updating their information, the sheriff’s office is requiring them to write down their work hours – a requirement not listed in state law.

In the letter, Jones writes that NARSOL recognizes the sheriff’s duty to enforce sex offender registration laws, but adds, “those statutory requirements have no provision for a sheriff to impose his/her own additional obligations rather than enforcing only the legal obligations required of a sex offender.”

Jones said that her organization is asking the sheriff’s office to respond to the claims in the letter within 30 days to “avoid costly litigation.”

A similar letter sent in 2019 to the Butts County Sheriff’s Office contesting signs being posted in the yards of sex offenders on Halloween did lead to a lawsuit being filed.

But one legal expert 11Alive spoke to said the actions of sheriff’s deputies may be perfectly legal.

According to criminal defense attorney Chelsea Thomas, who is familiar with Georgia’s requirements for registered sex offenders, if a sex offender is currently under a probation order, they may have specific requirements they must follow that go beyond the requirements for a registered offender who has completed their sentence. That could include having to check-in more regularly with local law enforcement and having to give additional information about their employment.

11Alive has reached out to the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the claims made in the letter from NARSOL.

“After an internal review of our policies and procedures and also a discussion with the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, we believe the accusations contained in the cease and desist request to be without merit,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “It is the mandated duty and responsibility of all sheriffs to keep the public informed of sex offenders in their jurisdictions.

“In an abundance of caution we will request a legal opinion from county attorneys to insure that we are applying the laws correctly but also protecting and informing the law abiding citizens of Cobb County.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office.



What Is The Purpose of Sex Offense Registries?


Two days ago, the Union-Recorder in Georgia published a bizarre editorial. The editorial board noted that the state’s sex offender registry system drives people into homelessness and deprived them of counseling and employment opportunities, but laments this fact only insofar as it allows registrants to “fly under the radar” and makes them “more difficult to track.” Georgia’s registry system, according to the authors, “places too much trust in the honor system” because requiring people to self-register “places too much confidence” in the registrant. They acknowledge that there are “strong penalties” for failing to register, including life in prison, but these apparently don’t go far enough, as some people with convictions could “choose to live on the fringes of the law.”

“As a society we have determined that in the case of convicted sexual offenders, the potential danger to the general public, and especially children, outweighs their rights to resume a normal life after the debt to society is paid,” the editorial board writes, but “despite all the concerns we have about civil liberties and individual rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we simply have to know where these offenders are and what threat they pose to a community.” The authors propose no solutions. And, more to the point, they betray a fundamental ignorance of the fact that no empirical evidence shows that registries actually protect anyone. Some evidence indicates they make us less safe.

Sex offender registries weren’t designed to punish people, Dara Lind wrote for Vox in 2016. “The registry was designed for ‘sexual predators’ who repeatedly preyed on children (at least according to the fears of 1990s policymakers). The purpose was supposed to be not punishment but prevention. The theory: ‘Sexual predators’ were unable or unwilling to control their urges, and the government could not do enough to keep them away from children, so the job of avoiding ‘sexual predators’ needed to fall to parents.” But now, 20 years later, “the focus on sex crimes has shifted from sexual abuse of children to sexual assault and rape. The idea that criminals can’t control their behavior has been replaced by attention to the cultural and institutional failures that allow rapes to happen and go unpunished.” As a preventive tool, it hasn’t worked, Lind writes. “Instead, it’s caught up thousands of people in a tightly woven net of legal sanctions and social stigma. Registered sex offenders are constrained by where, with whom, and how they can live—then further constrained by harassment or shunning from neighbors and prejudice from employers.”

Despite ongoing stigma against those convicted of sex offenses, there has been some movement away from ever-restrictive sex registries and toward more productive solutions. The political pressure to oppose these efforts, however, is strong.

Recently, the governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers, vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have lifted state restrictions on how close to schools people convicted of sex crimes can live. The bill, which passed the state Assembly and Senate unanimously, would have repealed a state law that bars certain people from living less than 1,500 feet from schools, public parks, places of worship, or youth centers. The bill would also have required people be placed in their home county after being released. In his veto message, Evers said the change would have compromised children’s safety. “In testimony before lawmakers earlier this year, the State Public Defender’s Office said out-of-county placements often happen because counties can’t find a place to house offenders that meet the 1,500-foot requirement,” reports Wisconsin Public Radio. Senator Dan Feyen, a Republican and one of the bill’s sponsors, said he agreed the distance is challenging for some and, in his opinion, arbitrary. “It’s just a number that’s made up.”

In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court will soon rule on the constitutionality of that state’s sex offender registry law. The latest iteration of the law, which took effect at the end of 2012, increased the “list of offenses subject to registration and notification—including a handful that are not sexual in nature—and imposing more stringent registration and notification rules,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The registry more than doubled. One of the cases before the high court deals with requirements under the current law for people classified as “sexually-violent predators,” those who have committed the most serious offenses and who are considered to have a high likelihood to reoffend. The question is whether lifetime registration, as well as lifetime counseling and community notification, constitute unlawful punishment.

In another case at issue, lawyers for a biochemical engineer with no prior record who was convicted of aggravated indecent assault and subject to lifetime registration are arguing that the law violates a fundamental right to reputation under the state Constitution. They posit that the law presumes that people convicted of certain sexual offenses cannot change and therefore are prone to reoffending. The lawyers “cite experts and studies that show the public holds a false perception that people convicted of sexual offenses will go on to reoffend, and that their risk for doing so lasts for years,” according to the Inquirer. “They said only a small number of offenders fit that bill, while the rest get lumped into that group, suffering a lifetime of harm. Their arguments go to the heart of the criminal justice reform movement blossoming across the country that aims to reduce harsh penalties for smaller offenses, and reform policies for offenders who, after serving prison time, suffer myriad social and financial hardships.”

Given the growing understanding of just how problematic these registries are, it is perhaps most remarkable that Nigeria is adopting a U.S.-style sex offense registry. “Campaigners have hailed the launch of Nigeria’s first sex offender register as a vital step towards tackling reported cases of sexual abuse, which are rising across the country,” reports The Guardian, in an article that notably lacks comments from critics. “The publicly accessible online register of people prosecuted for sexual violence since 2015 will allow public bodies and police authorities to conduct background checks and identify repeat offenders.”

Sexual violence indeed seems to be a serious problem in Nigeria, which stigmatizes those who come forward to report abuse. Despite the dearth of statistics, Unicef estimates that 1 in 4 girls in the country have experienced sexual violence by the age of 18 and few receive support. In Lagos, the most frequently assaulted group are children, many of whom are abused by relatives or family friends. Those who do come forward can be treated badly by authorities, according to the Guardian article. “We have cases where victims are being questioned in front of the perpetrators or in open spaces and criticized by officers for not remembering details like the road where the rape occurred,” said Oluwaseun Osowobi, the director of a Nigerian non-government organization that supports survivors of sexual violence. “Cases of sexual abuse are not prosecuted for flimsy reasons,” Osowobi added. “How police collect data is unprofessional and archaic. Police regularly misplace case-files or evidence. Eventually victims become exhausted by the system and give up.”

There is no doubt that this is all problematic and merits urgent attention. But the question is why a system that has already failed in the U.S. should be expected to succeed in Nigeria. Since few people are reported and fewer are convicted, it seems unlikely that anyone will be deterred by the idea that they now “have nowhere to hide,” as Osowobi put it. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, the executive secretary of Nigeria’s Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, said: “It enables bodies such as schools [and] hospitals to conduct background checks and it will deter sex offenders because they will know their names will be published, affecting their employment and role in society.” Until the culture that tolerates sex abuse and stigmatizes victims is inverted, however, it is hard to imagine that anyone will be so deterred. Nigeria and the U.S. would do better to be guided by evidence.


EDITORIAL: Sexual offender registry necessary


Georgia’s sex offender registry is not perfect.

However, it is necessary.

State laws have made it illegal for child sex offenders to live or work in locations where parents should have the expectation their children are safe, including playgrounds, churches or schools.

In 2012, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation requiring sex offenders be categorized based on the potential danger they pose to the general public. Sex offenders are separated by risk levels that distinguish between a person who has been convicted of rape and a teenager who may have had consensual sex with another underage teenager, for instance.

Delineating between types of offenses was the right thing to do.

However, balancing individual liberties of people who have been convicted of a crime, but served out their sentences, while keeping the public safe will always be a challenge.

The biggest problem with the sex offender registry is not that it provides identifying information about offenders.

Breaking the law has its consequences.

As a society we have determined that in the case of convicted sexual offenders, the potential danger to the general public, and especially children, out weighs their rights to resume a normal life after the debt to society is paid.

While we value civil liberties, keeping our children safe is an even more important value.

Restricting where a convicted offender can live and work is no longer about punishment. It is about keeping others safe.

The first problem with the registry is it places too much trust in the honor system.

Requiring an offender to self-register places too much confidence in the offender.

Yes, there are strong penalties for not registering, that oddly can be more severe than the penalties for the actual crime that was committed, but when people choose to live on the fringes of the law, or are simply bent on lawlessness, they are often not concerned about consequences.

We commend the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office for going beyond basic requirements. Still, for an offender who has not been put into the system and is flying under the radar, there is no means of verification.

The next problem with the registry is there is no fail-safe system to guarantee to a community that all sex offenders living there are actually on the registry.

The most serious loophole pertains to the homeless.

No one knows exactly how many homeless sex offenders live in Georgia or in a given community.

A sex offender has 72 hours after conviction or a change of address to notify the sheriff’s department. If they don’t register they could face prison time, simply for not registering. Subsequent failures to register could mean life in prison.

It is an irony, but restrictions against where sex offenders can live and the requirement for them to be placed on a registry have driven many of them to homelessness. 

It’s a grim Catch 22 that the laws designed to keep track of sex offenders have made it extremely difficult to find a a place to live, causing them to be homeless and making them more difficult to track. Or cause some offenders to go into hiding.

Restricting the lives of sex offenders may actually compromise their ability to find housing, employment, maintain counseling, treatment and rehabilitation.

Still, despite all the concerns we have about civil liberties and individual rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we simply have to know where these offenders are and what threat they pose to a community.

As a society we must leaven the approach with common sense – with a vigilant eye toward fairness and security.


Tracking Sex Offenders: State registry gives law enforcement an important tool


VALDOSTA — In 2016, Halloween was scary for all the wrong reasons.

Lowndes County sheriff’s deputies fanned out to check on residents on the state’s sex offender registry. The results: 344 in-person verifications, four warrants issued for non-compliant registrants (not living at their registered address) and one warrant issued for sexual exploitation of children (possession of child pornography), according to the sheriff’s office.

There were four arrests for violation of probation (participation in Halloween activities, which is forbidden to sex offenders under state law) and three warrants issued for violation of probation (were not home during Halloween activities), according to the sheriff’s office.

Georgia’s sex offender registry was created in 2006. This week, the newspapers in the SunLight Project areas of Valdosta, Thomasville, Tifton, Moultrie, Milledgeville and Dalton take a look at how law-enforcement agencies use the registry and deal with those registered.


The Georgia Bureau of Investigation maintains the state’s sex offender registry. Sheriff’s offices in each county are required to maintain a list of convicted sexual offenders and forward that information, including their addresses, to the GBI.

In Lowndes County, those duties fall to Amanda Giddens and Rodney Smith, investigators with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith’s job is mostly field work: “I go out and check addresses, make sure they’re still there, every 30-45 days.”

Giddens mainly handles office duties.

“I handle the administrative side — paperwork, entry into the GBI system, handling prosecutions. I’m also a member of the GBI Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, handling prosecutions for those,” she said.

As of Nov. 28, In Lowndes County, there were 291 registered sex offenders: 32 incarcerated, one homeless, five absconded and wanted, and 26 who do not live in Lowndes but work or attend school in the county, Giddens said.

Lt. Tim Watkins, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office chief investigator, said Thomas County seems to have more reports of sex crimes than other places.

As of Nov. 25, Thomas County had 160 registered sex offenders. Ten people on the Thomas County sex offender registry were arrested in the last year for violating terms of the registry. Follow-ups were done on several more individuals on the list, but arrests were not made.

“The challenges facing sheriff’s offices around the state is that sex offender registration is an unfunded mandate on their agencies,” Watkins said.

He said his Criminal Investigations Division spends three man-hours a day on sex offenders. They also verify sex offenders’ addresses and employment several times a year.


In Lowndes County, the sex offender registry is almost a men’s-only club. Of the 313 registered offenders in Lowndes on the GBI’s most recent database, only six are women.

Smith said the most numerous crimes on the registry involve some sort of sexual battery. Exclusive of crimes against children, the GBI database lists 30 cases of rape and 34 cases of various violent sex-related crimes among Lowndes County’s registered offenders.

Giddens said among new offenders, the majority involve crimes against children. The state registry lists 97 cases of child molestation and 53 statutory rape cases in Lowndes County.

The difference between child molestation and statutory rape is one of age. Statutory rape is often “boyfriend-girlfriend, one older than the other,” Smith said. Statutory rape is often a plea deal argued down from child molestation, where the age difference is greater, he said.

The only statutory rape cases listed on the registry are felony convictions. Misdemeanor statutory rape is not a registry offense. To qualify as a misdemeanor, the offender must be younger than 18, with not more than a four-year age difference, Giddens said.

Lowndes County has 14 registered offenders officially marked as “predators.”


“I get daily calls from the public,” Giddens said. “I can tell if an offender lives on a street, but, by name, can only say ‘Yes, an offender lives at that address.'”

For more information, such as “how old was the child,” people  have to file an open records request, she said.

Most arrests of people already on the registry list are for moving without notifying the sheriff’s office, Smith said.

About five to 10 people a year are removed from the list, he said. Giddens said there is a procedure for petitioning the court for removal. It includes such requirements as: Must have finished any prison time at least a decade earlier, must have been classified by review board as low risk, no intentional physical harm involved in the original crime, no kidnappings and no crossing state lines.

The Valdosta Police Department primarily uses the registry as an investigative tool, Police Chief Leslie Manahan said.

“If we were searching for someone in a violent crime, it gives us an ability to locate people in our area, especially in stranger-to-stranger cases,” she said.

The chief cited a case from several years ago when a woman was assaulted downtown. The sex offender registry was one of several avenues toward identifying the woman’s attacker, she said.

The police are not involved in maintaining the registry, Manahan said.

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office “does an excellent job at that,” she said.

“For us, it’s a tool but the sheriff’s office actually gets to know the offenders,” Valdosta Police Lt. Scottie Johns said.

Statewide, the Department of Community Supervision is actively supervising 7,536 sex offenders and 224 sexually dangerous predators — those deemed by a review board as the worst offenders. After a Supreme Court ruling, 412 sexually dangerous predators were removed from GPS monitoring. The court ruled that tracking offenders with GPS devices after they had completed their sentences was unconstitutional.

In Colquitt County, though the sheriff’s office handles current registered sex offenders, the Moultrie Police Department handles sex offender cases just like any other case.

“It’s a top priority, of course,” Moultrie Police 1st Sgt. Justin Lindsay said.


A map of Lowndes County’s sex offender registrants shows the greatest concentration is within the city limits of Valdosta.

“It could be because of family support; it could be because many motels fall in the perfect area outside of forbidden zones for sex offenders,” Manahan said. “They are required to have stable residency.”

A series of Georgia legal code amendments have created a four-tiered system to determine where convicted sex offenders can and cannot live, depending on the date of their conviction:

• For those convicted before June 4, 2003, there are no restrictions.

• For those convicted between June 4, 2003, and June 30, 2006: The offender may not live within 1,000 feet of any child-care facility, school or area where minors congregate.

• For those convicted between June 30, 2006 and July 1, 2008: A 1,000-foot buffer around churches, community swimming pools and day-care centers was added. Additionally, someone on the registry may not work at a business within 1,000 feet of those locations.

• For those convicted after July 1, 2008: A 1,000-foot buffer was added around public libraries, skating rinks and gymnasiums.

Smith said if a church or school were built close to where a sex offender was already living, the offender would get to stay.


Many communities have organizations to help victims of sexual crimes.

In Thomas County, the Treehouse, a victims’ advocacy agency, does a tremendous job of making victims feel comfortable and in reporting and investigating the process necessary in the crimes, Lt. Watkins said.

“I believe the partnership with the district attorney’s office, The Treehouse and law enforcement has worked well in obtaining convictions of the offenders,” he said.

In Moultrie, the Hero House Child Advocacy Center has an average of two to three interviews a week. Regina Dismuke, Hero House director, recently did two in one day on Dec. 3. The monthly average she’s seen from Colquitt County and Moultrie together was 10 to 15 in a month, but some months have seen 22 interviews. Larger cases of sexual abuse can have four or five interviews.

“To be a successful forensic interviewer, you have to have a certain set of skills because when you’re talking to children your emotions cannot show on your face. You cannot show the disbelief of maybe what they’re saying,” Dismuke said.

In addition to Terry Richards, SunLight members Riley Bunch, Bryce Ethridge and Patti Dozier contributed to this report.


Child molestation: 97

Statutory rape: 53

Enticing a child: 8

Child pornography: 1

Rape: 30

Sodomy: 1

Sexual battery on a child under 16: 7

Source: Georgia Bureau of Investigation Sex Offender Registry

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.


Deputies find Bartow sex offenders complying with laws requiring they be in registered residences


All sex offenders registered in Bartow County were found to be compliant with Georgia sex offender laws requiring verified residences during a recent annual sweep by sheriff’s deputies statewide.

Bartow sheriff’s deputies and officers with the Cherokee Judicial Circuit Department of Community Supervision participated in a statewide sheriffs’ initiative called Operation Watchful Eye IV recently.

The action was part of a statewide effort by Georgia sheriffs to verify registered sex offenders’ residences and check compliance with state laws within each county, said Sgt. Jonathan White of the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office.

A total of 246 sex offenders were registered in Bartow County in late October, including 11 sexually dangerous predators and four homeless offenders, White said.

“Residence verifications and compliance checks were attempted on each of the 246 registered offenders as well as one offender who moved and registered in Bartow County during the week of the operation,” White said.

Deputies successfully verified 208 were in the residences they registered. Offenders not seen were either working or at counseling sessions when deputies came to verify the addresses, White said.

“Contact has since been made with the (offenders) not seen during Operation Watchful Eye IV,” he said.

White added that deputies arrested two offenders for outstanding probation violations.

The sheriffs’ initiative led to the arrests of 40 sex offenders and warrants issued to 147 for violations of state registration laws statewide between Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, a news release stated.

During the seven-day operation, deputies conducted 7,535 residence verifications; issued 18 new warrants for violations of the sex offender registry law, and 13 warrants for new sex offenses; issued 48 warrants for residency violations of the sex offender registry and 28 warrants for other miscellaneous new charges.

Ninety-six new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, the release stated.

“More importantly, it was discovered that 190 sex offenders had absconded from their last known address, which will require the sheriff to work with other supporting agencies and track these individuals down,” it stated.

The first coordinated effort to verify offenders’ locations across the state was launched In 2015 to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period.

Georgia’s sheriffs subsequently made Operation Watchful Eye an annual effort due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, the release stated

“The Office of Sheriff is mandated by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school,” a release from the Georgia Sheriff’s Association stated.

“The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network, and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make our state safer.”

Visit the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office website or for more information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders locally and statewide.


Operation Watchful Eye IV leads to arrests


Thanks to an initiative involving Georgia’s sheriffs, 40 sex offenders were arrested and 147 warrants issued across the state from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1 for violations of state registration laws.

In 2015, the first coordinated effort across the state was launched to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period. The coordinated initiative became known as Operation Watchful Eye. Due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, Georgia’s sheriffs have made this an annual operation and recently conducted Operation Watchful Eye IV.

The office of sheriff is mandated by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school. Throughout the year, each sheriff’s office verifies addresses provided by registered sex offenders. While conducting residence verifications, deputies also assure additional registration requirements are being adhered to.

The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make our state safer. In numerous counties, deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Probation officers and Department of Community Supervision probation/parole officers worked together to verify sex offenders comply with the law.

Preliminary reporting by 77 sheriff’s offices reveals 9,178 registered sex offenders, 240 predators and 123 homeless sex offenders are currently living in their counties. During the seven-day operation, 7,535 residence verifications were conducted, 96 new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, 18 new warrants were issued for violations of the sex offender registry law, 13 warrants were issued for new sex offenses, 48 warrants were issued for residency violations of the sex offender registry and 28 warrants were issued for other miscellaneous new charges.

More importantly, it was discovered that 190 sex offenders had absconded from their last known address, which will require the sheriff to work with other supporting agencies and track these individuals down.


Polk County Sheriff’s Office takes part in Operation Watchful Eye


While local citizens were working, sleeping or trick or treating the Polk County Sheriff’s Office spent the last seven days completing this years’ Operation Watchful Eye, according to a release from the agency.

In a coordinated effort across Georgia sheriffs’ offices, deputies participated in statewide residence verification and compliance checks and other non-compliant matters of registered sex offenders. Locally, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Johnny Moats offered thanks to Deputy Jeff Walker and the many others who participated in operation.

“The purpose of these operations is to keep the state safe by creating awareness especially during the Halloween Holiday week,” the release stated.

Sheriffs’ offices are required by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders live, work and attend school.

During the seven-day operation, Polk County deputies completed 143 residence verification checks, with three of those listed as registered predators, five listed as homeless and a new warrant was issued for violations of the sex offender registry law and two new sex offenders moved into the County during this time period.


Operation Horizon concludes


Operation Horizon, in which several agencies — including the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office — conducted 97 sex offender compliance checks and attempted to locate numerous individuals wanted on felony warrants, concluded Aug. 1.

Personnel conducted 97 sex offender compliance checks July 29-30. Of those checks, 91 individuals were found to be compliant and six individuals were arrested.

One arrest was the result of the offender possessing thousands of images of child pornography. The other five arrests involved possession of methamphetamine, marijuana, firearms and one parole violation. Two laptops, two cell phones, multiple thumb drives, multiple DVDs and one firearm were seized as a result of those arrests.

July 31 and Aug. 1 personnel concentrated on individuals wanted on felony warrants from Catoosa County which resulted in 22 individuals being arrested.

Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk thanked the various agencies that participated “for their hard work and dedication to keeping our community safe”: Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshal’s Service & Task Force officers, Homeland Security, and Georgia Department of Community Services.


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