Local sex offender number rising

Published 1:17 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There are currently 200 sex offenders in the county — 11 more than last year. (Illustration/Jamie Sparacino)

By NICOLE LOGGINS / Staff Writer

There are currently 200 sex offenders in the county, including 110 who are required to register for public notification.

That number, which is monitored by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, has risen slightly in the last 12 months. Last year, 189 sex offenders were registered in the county.

Sgt. Russell Bedsole, who works with the administrative division of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, said most sexual offenses require registration, but public notification may not apply to all offenders.

“Under the new law, non-sexual offenses can be deemed as having a ‘sexual motivation’ to them and require registration,” Bedsole said. “For example, a person could be convicted of burglary, and it would not normally require registration. If the person committed a burglary to commit a sexual offense, the offense could be deemed to have a sexual motivation even if no conviction on a sexual offense occurs.”

The new law Bedsole referenced is the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act.  It can be found in the Alabama Criminal code under Title 15 in chapter 20A.

For the majority of juvenile offenders, there is no notification given to the public unless they receive a higher risk assessment.

“Indecent exposure and sexual misconduct are the only two adult offenses that are not subject to notification, unless there is a second conviction,” Bedsole said.

Adult sex offenders register for life. Juvenile registration varies depending on whether they were convicted prior to July 1, 2011, when the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act went into effect.

All juveniles convicted prior to that date register for 10 years. After that date, it depends on the offense.  Serious offenses including first-degree rape, sodomy and sexual abuse require the juvenile to register for life with an option to petition for relief after 25 years.

All other juvenile offenses have 10-year registration terms.

Patrol deputies receive sex offender verification forms for each offender twice per year.

A deputy will then make contact with each registered sex offender twice during the year and verify he or she is currently residing in the registered residence.

Bedsole said the law does not require the visits, but the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office does them to hold offenders accountable.

“(The visits) also allow the patrol deputies to become more familiar with the registered offenders that live in the portion of the county they are assigned,” he said.

If a convicted offender moves, the law requires him or her to give “immediate notice” to law enforcement. The notice must be made to both law enforcement in the jurisdiction, which the offender is leaving, and the jurisdiction where the offender is moving.

Most adult offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of schools, daycares and childcare facilities. Adult offenders must register quarterly each year.

“Whether an offender lives in your area or not, you should always operate under the assumption that a sex offender could be living in the neighborhood,” Bedsole said.  “Use good judgment with who your kids go with and where they go.  There are people capable of offending that have never been convicted or required to be subject to community notification.”