The new Georgia sex offender laws have been a hot topic lately...but logging on might not give you all the facts about who lives nearby. News 12's Stephanie Baker is on your side with why information on the sex offender registry is not always as it seems.
The registry information is fourth-hand by the time it gets to the local level. The sex offender reports it to the Department of Corrections, then it goes to state agencies and on to the counties. All those steps make it hard to catch mistakes.
Can you rely on the registry? South Carolina's shows Troy Barrow committed a lewd act on a child under 16 and he lives on Swamp Road in Beech Island.
We went to check it out.
Landlord Pete Koger and one of his tenants did not recognize Barrow's picture. The Aiken County Sheriff's Office said they'd look into it.
But here's the problem.
Barrow listed 116 Swamp Road on the registry. That's the address for the entire trailer park, which has roughly 20 trailers.
That's a problem for investigators across the CSRA.
"That info is based on what the offender gives when he's released," says Inv. Ron Sylvester of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. "They could pretty much give us a false address."
Another problem: how accurate is the list? An 18-year-old Evans man convicted of statutory rape spent a few years on the registry, even though the law said he was too young to be forced to register. The Department of Corrections just caught the mistake.
Inaccurate lists and wrong addresses worry one mother.
"Adults should know better...they should be punished."
She says keeping up with the details keeps offenders away from her family.
Local officers say random checks help them keep up with sex offenders in the area. In the checks, investigators go the homes of sex offenders to make sure the registry is correct.
New laws went into effect July 1 in Georgia. They prohibit offenders from living within 1000 feet of places where kids gather, including school bus stops.