Across Northwest Georgia, ankle monitors are being removed from sexual predators who have served their time — but authorities will still be keeping tabs on them for the rest of their lives.
Under state law, people convicted of sex offenses must register their addresses with the sheriff’s office of the county where they reside and keep it updated every time they move.
“They’re still required to abide by all the rules of the sex offender registry,” said Deputy Anthony Cromer, who runs the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office registry. “We check on them multiple times a year.”
They each hold one of three classifications: Level 1, Level 2 or Sexually Dangerous Predator. Their classification is assigned upon their release from prison by the Sexual Offender Registry Review Board, based on the risk that they’ll re-offend.
“Anybody classified as a dangerous predator is required to wear an ankle monitor,” Cromer said. “It used to be for life, but now it’s just while they’re on probation or parole.”
The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously ruled in early March that requiring people to be continuously tracked by GPS after they’ve completed their sentences “authorizes a patently unreasonable search that runs afoul of the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Gordon County’s registry had 172 residents listed on the sex offender registry, with seven of those classified as predators. The oldest conviction date was 1993, for aggravated child molestation, with a second offense in 2018 for sexual battery of a child. The other six men had single convictions, all child crimes, ranging from 2004 to 2011.
The Gordon County Sheriff’s Office maintains the addresses of registered sex offenders in its database. A map can be found on the sheriff’s office website, gordonsheriff.org/resources/sex-offender-registry. This map “is based upon a third party database of coordinates from a web-based mapping tool provided by Google.”
Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap announced earlier this month that the electronic monitors had been removed from the four predators registered in his county who fit the criteria of the order.
Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader was doing it Wednesday, according to Serpentfoot — a Rome native whose 89-year-old husband James A. Ragan is monitored in that county. She said they had previously petitioned for removal due to Ragan’s health and the court ruling comes as a relief.
“He’s bedridden, he has home health care and that thing was cutting into his little skinny legs,” she said. “It was cruel.”
Serpentfoot and Ragan still claim he’s innocent of the child molestation charge that put him in jail in 2006 and on the registry for life. The vast majority of the sexual predators listed in Floyd and surrounding counties were convicted of crimes against children.
In Floyd County, 10 of the 240 residents on the registry as of Wednesday were classified as predators and all of their crimes involved minors.
The oldest conviction dates to 1990, for child molestation, and two other men were convicted in the late ’90s. Three men on the list have two or more convictions several years apart.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation maintains an online searchable statewide sex offender registry and each county sheriff has a local tracker on their website. Floyd, Polk and Bartow counties also have contracts with OffenderWatch, a national sex offender and community notice service.
Polk County had five sexual predators among the 122 residents listed on its registry — all convicted of child molestation.
Sentencing dates ranged from 1996 to 2010 and none of the five had second offenses.
Three of Chattooga County’s 122 registered sex offenders are classified as predators. Two were convicted of child molestation and one served time for enticing a child for indecent purposes.
Bartow had a total of 261 sex offenders registered, including 11 classed as sexual predators. Conviction dates ranged from 1983 to 2013, and one man had two convictions for sexual assault more than a decade apart — both in Wisconsin.