Keeping Track of Sex Offenders

More than half of the 450 people registered as sex offenders in Vanderburgh County are registered inaccurately. That's what chief deputy Eric Williams is finding.

"I don't think it is the fault of anyone other than the sex offenders not doing what they were told to do, Williams said. "The law is very specific on what they are required to do and how often they have to register and when they have to notify somebody, so we're basically going to try and put some teeth into that and hold them accountable for failure to register properly."

Now you can only check a sex offender by name, but the sheriff's department hopes to expand that search with the offender's address.

"A lot of it is going to depend on our ability to maintain this and update it and verify registration," Williams said. "The sex offender may have lived there at some point in the past but failed to notify us. We still have it listed as the address of a sex offender and some family lives there that is a very good family with no issues like that, and all of a sudden the community is looking at their house as a sex offender home. We don't want that to happen."

And previously, pictures were not attached to the registry, but the sheriff's department is adding pictures of each offender. And another major problem is accessibility. Currently, you can't access any Vanderburgh offenders on the state registry. The sheriff's department will be sending that information to the state web site.

"Within a few weeks we hope to be putting the information on there, and within 90 days we hope to have a pretty good block about most of the sex offenders, and then from that point forward the public can help us out by confirming accuracy," Williams said.

But Williams says the first step is correcting errors in the current registry. The sheriff's department is asking the county council for permission to create a full time position dedicated solely to keeping the registry up to date.

"Your [Stefanie's] story has generated a lot of calls to us from the community about things or issues that they've seen or people that they know are not registered properly," Williams said. "We know the public is concerned about it. Our hope is to get this position, and this person would then oversee this process. That double checks and verifies that the person is registered properly. That goes to the trouble of finding those that aren't registered properly, and gets them to register, if not using the teeth that are in the legislation and using it against them, and hopefully putting them back in jail. "

The sheriff's department is using this week to input all the current data they have. On Monday they will begin taking new registrants. Any sex offenders with inaccurate information, or currently not on the registry, need to go to the sheriff's command post on U.S. Highway 41 North to register.

Registrants can do so Monday through Wednesday from 7:00 a.m. until noon or Thursdays from noon until 5:00. The sheriff's department also encourages citizens to call in any information they might have regarding sex offenders who aren't properly registered.