Jackson County Supervisor pushes for tougher sex offender laws

JACKSON COUNTY, MS

Jackson County Supervisor John McKay wants to put new penalties in place for sex offenders who break the law.

McKay said he hears from worried constituents who fear offenders move in, but no one ever knows. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department also supports tougher laws.

During Monday’s board meeting, McKay told fellow supervisors he’s on a mission to push for tougher sex offender laws. McKay said he’s counted more than 20 offenders living in his district.

“I was thinking if one of the kids got hurt and I didn’t do anything, or killed, or molested, I would feel horrible about it,” McKay said.

According to state law, any person moving to or residing in the state, who has been convicted of a sex offense, must register. Also, the offender cannot stay within 1,500 feet of a school or daycare. McKay says still some offenders don’t follow the rules.

“In Vancleave, we had a sexual predator try to pick up a 14-year-old girl. In Gulf Park Estates, a lady said she found out that sexual offender was living next door to her and she didn’t know about it.”

McKay said law enforcers and state legislators need to improve the system to make the neighborhoods safer.

“There are some communities around the country that require these people to post a sign in their yards that say, I am sex offender.”

Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Mick Sears agrees violators need to be punished.

“I think where the strengthening part needs to come in is the willingness for law enforcement agencies, dealing with sex offender registration, to arrest these folks for non-compliance and not slap them on the hand,” Investigator Sears said.

Sears said 186 sex offenders are registered in Jackson County. Deputies arrested 28 violators last year and 16 so far this year.

“If you are non-compliant in Jackson County, you are going to jail,” Sears said.

Sears wants people to know the county has its own website that lists the sex offenders who do register. Click here to visit the Mississippi Sex Offender Registry.

“It keeps us more aware, and it takes away the guess work away.”

Jackson County Supervisors agreed to put a special link on their home page to the Sheriff’s Department’s website, so citizens have an easier time finding the county’s sex offender list. Supervisor McKay said he also plans to talk to legislators about writing a new sex offender bill.

By Patrice Clark

WLOX- ch 13

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