(SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan.) — Whether someone is a sex offender, violent offender or drug offender come July first, Kansas will keep better track of them. That's when a new law goes into effect requiring offenders register in the county they live more often. It's to put Kansas in compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act targeted at sex offenders. But Kansas lawmakers decided to make the policy uniform for all offenders required to register.
Every month 500 offenders check in with the Sedgwick County Sheriff's department. "That's what we do, track the offenders," said Sargent Mary Mattingly. Mattingly will soon be even busier because sex, violent, and drug offenders will have to register one extra time a year. "It will be four times a year to verify that nothing has changed or to give us new addresses, vehicles and places of employment," said Sheriff Bob Hinshaw.
There are 2,046 registered offenders in Sedgwick County. Of those, 1,200 are sex offenders which makes up 21% of all sex offenders in the state. When an offender comes to the office, they have to fill out a variety of paperwork each time. They even have to document tattoos and every car they have access to drive. A picture is then taken and put into a paper file. The information is also uploaded on line to the Sedgwick County Offender Watch.
The offender watch is a website you can use to find out where an offender lives. "As a mother, it's a tool to know who lives in my neighborhood, who are my children playing with, do they want to go to that house," Mattingly said. She says it's a great way keep track of your surroundings.
The sheriff says the changes in the law, may also lead to more arrests. Instead of getting a 14 day grace period to check in, it's now three days. So the sheriff's department will know sooner whether there's a safety concern. He says they also do home and work visits to verify people are where they say.