Residents can track sex offenders online

Ronnie Levon White was released from Johnson State Prison in Wrightsville, Ga., on Nov. 27, but in less than a month he was back behind bars.

Richmond County deputies arrested him Dec. 18 on East Chapman Street after he did not register as a sex offender with the sheriff's office -- the same charge that landed him a three-year term in 2007.

Nearly every week, sex offenders fall off the police radar. Most are found quickly. However, there are still more than 400 male and female rapists, child molesters and other sex offenders in Georgia that authorities can't locate.

The sheriff's office is hoping a new Web site, which went online Wednesday, will make keeping tabs on them easier by letting the public track sex offenders in their neighborhoods.

Residents can enter their information -- name, address and e-mail -- and receive regular updates on the registered sex offenders living in their neighborhoods, according to Mike Blanchard, the assistant director of the Richmond County Information Technology Department. They can also type in the name of an offender and receive e-mail alerts if the person moves or is arrested, he said.

The site allows law enforcement to share information on offenders with other departments nationwide that use the offender watch program.

Under state law, those convicted of a crime against a minor or any dangerous sexual offense must register with their local law enforcement once a year. At least 72 hours before their birthday, offenders in Richmond County must visit with authorities to update their photo, address, fingerprints and other information. If they don't, offenders face felony charges and a 10- to 30-year prison term.

"They don't see that what they are doing is wrong," said Investigator Charles Mulherin, who is tasked with keeping tabs on the 240 active offenders in Richmond County. He said many offenders don't want to be found, while others might miss a deadline but register later.

In Richmond County, there are four offenders who have been missing for a year or more, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Sex Offender Registry.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

Sex offender registries

- OffenderWatch and the Online Inmate Inquiry can be accessed by going to www.augustaga.gov and clicking on "Sheriff" under "Departments."

- The GBI's Sex Offender Registry can be found by going to www.gbi.georgia.gov and clicking "Services."