Deputy monitors Hancock County's sex offenders - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Deputy monitors Hancock County's sex offenders

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HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Currently there are nearly 2,000 sex offenders in the State of Mississippi and keeping track of them is a full time job. Many county law enforcement agencies have to hire officers specifically to make sure offenders are following the rules. Christina Garcia went out with the deputy in charge of Hancock County's sex offenders to find out what goes into the job.

Every time a sex offender moves, gets a new job, or has to travel they have to report it to officials. And when offenders fail to comply with the rules someone has to find them and bring them in.

"Everyone is the same once they walk in. They all sign a piece of paperwork. They're all registered sex offenders - doesn't matter if it's against a child, if it's against an adult, they're all the same," said Hancock County Sex Offender Registry Officer Timothy Airhart.

Airhart is the man in charge of managing all 96 of Hancock County's sex offenders who you see on Mississippi's online sex offender registry. They tell him where they live, work and travel.

Convicted sex offenders have to register with officials in any place they live for the rest of their lives. While they can appeal their conviction, Airhart says he hasn't seen someone get off that list. Failing to register or lying on the registry could land them back in jail. Every day Airhart checks on the sex offenders who are compliant and those who are non-compliant.

One of the things he checks is that where the sex offender lives. They can't live within 3,000 feet of schools, child care facilities or churches.

"Right now, we're headed to the residence of an individual who has been listed as non-compliant. This is the individual's first time of being non-compliant, so I'm actually going to let him know he has to, at the end of his three months, he has to reregister," Airhart said as he drove to the sex offender's home.

The sex offender wasn't at his home address listed on the registry, which means more investigating for Airhart until he finds him.

This isn't the only case. Currently, Hancock County has six sex offenders listed as non-compliant, meaning they haven't re-registered or have falsified their address.

The rules for how often convicted sex offenders have to register vary from state to state. Airhart said it can lead to confusion when offenders move to a new area.

"Recently, I had an individual come in and register and the individual was making statements,  'Why do I have to do this every 90 days? My last state was once a year on my birth month. This is not right.' And I said, ‘By law, Mississippi says every 90 days. If you're non compliant, then we will meet again.'"

The sex offender registry is open to the public and sorted by county. It's also regularly updated online with the sex offender's address, charge and photo: http://state.sor.dps.ms.gov/

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