State changes procedure on sex offenders

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 16, 2005

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and state Attorney General Troy King have called for a policy change requiring convicted sex offenders to provide a verifiable address to the state's sex offender registry or be re-arrested.

That's a policy that Riley and King called for on Thursday, but it's a policy that Butler County Sheriff Diane Harris had in place for months.

In fact the re-arrest of Jason Dale Dean, 32, of McKenzie, is a classic example.

Dean was arrested and charged with failure to register on July 5 when he moved from his 80 Deep Wood Road residence to 111 North Street in McKenzie.

"One of my deputies asked if he had been reregistered (at the new address)," Harris said. "We checked, and he had not. So, we arrested and charged him."

Dean was held at the Butler County Jail until July 6 when he met his $10,000 bond.

So far there are 19 convicted sex offenders registered within Butler County. Dean is one of them, but the address he is listed under is not his true residence as Harris and her deputies found out.

"If I catch a sex offender who is living in my county and has not registered, then they are going to jail," she said.

Dean was convicted of sexual abuse first-degree in Covington County for subjecting a 15-year-old female to sexual contact.

Riley said the policy adopted on Thursday would not allow sexual predators to "slip anonymously" back into a neighborhood.

"This change will strengthen our ability to protect our communities and especially our children from these dangerous criminals,&uot; Riley said.

With the change, corrections officers will have the authority to arrest sex offenders who do not provide a verifiable address before their release from prison. The offender would then be placed in the custody of the county sheriff.

&uot;I applaud Governor Riley and the Department of Corrections for closing a loophole that was allowing sex offenders to step through the gates of prison without properly registering and disappearing into obscurity,&uot; King said.