Marked for life

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Is there a convicted sex offender in your neighborhood?

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said his department has received numerous questions about how community members are notified when a convicted sex offender moves into the neighborhood.

Wednesday’s edition of The Star-News includes photographs and specific information about the more than 70 registered sex offenders currently residing in Covington County.

Passed in 1996, the Community Notification Act is designed “to provide true protection of Alabama families and children from dangerous sex offenders.” It requires convicted sex offenders to notify local law enforcement of their residence; in turn, law enforcement authorities must notify community residents living near the sex offender.

The community is notified only once, at the time in which the offender first moves to the community.

“By law, under the Community Notification Act, a convicted sex offender is required to register twice a year with local authorities,” Meeks said. “In turn, authorities are required to give notification when that offender moves into a new residence, and that’s usually done by posting fliers within their neighborhood. Sometimes, we take an opportunity, like this, to do a countywide notification as a public service.

“So, what happens is, say that the offender has lived at an address for years,” he said. “It could be that there is a rental house next door or a home in the neighborhood sells — either way someone new moves into the neighborhood.

“They don’t know who their new neighbors are, let alone if one of them is a registered sex offender,” he said. “Not many people know to check the Web site to see who’s living in their community, so this is just another way for us to notify all of Covington County who is living here and is registered as a sex offender.”

Meeks said other law enforcement agencies have employed the same method of notification such as in Mobile and Opelika.

Additionally, Meeks said he hopes it creates more awareness in the community.

“Take this tool and use it to educate yourself on the people who are living in our community that have been convicted of these crimes,” he said. “Check to see if a person you know for a fact has been convicted of a sex crime is on this list. If they’re not, call us, and we can tell you if that person meets the requirements under the law to be on this list.

“It takes two investigators to keep up with the large number of offenders we have in this county. We depend on the community to be our eyes and ears. If you know someone who is not on this list and should be, call us,” he said.

A complete listing of all the state’s registered sex offenders can be found at

To report the location of a suspected sex offender who is in non-compliance with the Community Notification Act, call 428-2640.