Tracking Sex Offenders

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Just days after John Couey confessed to kidnapping and killing nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford, officials learned he took jobs that gave him access to hundreds of children.

He worked construction at two Florida schools, most recently the elementary school where Jessica was a third grader. Now, state lawmakers want a better way to track sex offenders.

"The technology is there, you can actually put a GPS tracking device on an offender. You know where they are at any moment of the day," Rep. Everitt Rice, (R) Indian Shores says.

Sex offenders and predators are supposed to register with authorities in the county they live in. Their name, offense, address and other personal information is then posted on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Sexual Offender Registry, but the website will not tell you where someone is living if they move without telling authorities, or whether an offender who has not registered is living next to you.

Since September, Bay County sheriff's officials have been taking a proactive approach to crackdown on offenders who fail to register.

"We are going out and physically confirming they're still at the address they have listed. When we find some that moved, we're obtaining warrants and having them arrested," says Capt. Jimmy Stanford of the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

There are more than 330 sex offenders in Bay County. Of those, 18 are sexual predators, which means they are more likely to repeat their crimes.

Capt. Stanford says one reason Bay County has more sex offenders than any other central Panhandle county is because of the Sheriff's Office aggressive stance.

"We used arrest about 10 in a year, now we got like 50 in one month," says Stanford.

You can call 888-357-7332 if you want to find out more about a particular offender or even talk to their probation officer.


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