Sex Offender Registry Touted For Safety And Information

Three hundred people listed on investigator Carolyn Prendergas' computer committed some kind of sexual crime. The information goes into the system as soon as the state notifies her that the offender is being released from prison and they show up to register.

"I list them on our web site , register all their personal information, photographs, fingerprints, so forth and so on. They're immediately entered on our web site where you can access it within the hour."

It's the law, but not all defendants register. Arrest warrants are out for the four people who didn't sign up.

Along with keeping track on the web, Harrison County is the only one in the state that mails notification postcards to citizens living within three tenths of a mile of where the offender lives.

Harrison County Sheriff George Payne says, "Eighty percent of the people that live in most neighborhoods in this country have a sex offender that lives within a mile."

The sheriff says some of the offenders complain about the amount of information that's released about them, but Payne says people need to know who their neighbors are.

"Especially with the all the crime and the high profile crimes that's going on today. If you've got young children, you have an access to a computer and the Internet, run this system up. Learn who's in your neighborhood, protect your children, protect yourself."

The sheriff says statistics show that's especially important because sex offenders normally repeat their crimes at least half of the time.