TUPELO – Four men were charged with failing to maintain their sex offender registry last week during a Lee County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshal’s Service roundup.
Those convicted of sexual crimes in Mississippi are required to continue to check in with law enforcement long after most felony offenders have finished their sentence or post-release monitoring.
Sex offenders are required to maintain a lifelong registry, which goes far beyond submitting an address at the time of release from prison.
“When you are convicted of a sexual offense, after you serve your time or if you don’t have time to serve, immediately upon release you have to register with your local sheriff’s office,” said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson. “You provide DNA, a photograph, fingerprints and a current address where you will be residing.”
Once that is done, sex offenders have to return and update or resubmit their registration every 90 days. Many offenders are in violation not because they didn’t register, but because they are actually sleeping somewhere other than their registered address.
The registration requires any address where a sex offender spends the hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. seven consecutive days be listed.
The offender is responsible for maintaining an accurate registry as well as notifying of any big life changes like a move or a change of occupation.
“If you have a felony conviction, a lot of time, without a good background check, you can move off and no one will ever know it,” Johnson said. “But, a sex offender is responsible with reminding the law enforcement office every 90 days, ‘I’m one of these.’ and if you move to another state, you still have to register – not just for Mississippi or Lee County convictions.”
Compliance checks are performed randomly and regularly as a joint effort by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshal’s Office.
“Anytime we do a compliance check we take the information at our office, supplied by these offenders, and we check that location,” Johnson said. “Sometimes we find out through someone residing at the home or sometimes we find out when the home is vacant. Sometimes we go there and it doesn’t exist and a lot of times they will put their address but then actually be moved in with a girlfriend or boyfriend.”
If offenders let their registration expire, they face a fine of up to $5,000 or up to five years in prison. Many offenders will be given a sentence with a portion of the time to be served in jail and a portion to be suspended. If a registration violation occurs, the offender not only faces the new charge, but also the possibility of being sent back to jail for any suspended sentence.
“It’s an option the judge will have and they take it as a very serious violation,” Johnson said of failing to maintain a registration.
The four charged last week are Demetrist Ignatius Perryman, 54, of Tupelo; Rex A. Collums, 60, of Plantersville; Christopher Tyler Brown, 26, of Shannon; and Christopher Early Walton, 35, of Shannon.
Of the four, three claimed to have had their registration updated. Johnson said the failure to register arrests commonly are a result of someone having a registered address but staying elsewhere regularly. He did not give specifics on the four arrested last week.
Each had their bond set at $10,000 in the Lee County Circuit Court.
The Lee County sex offender registry is public and can be found at LeeCoSheriff.com. Johnson said they appreciate public help in maintaining the registry and many compliance checks are the result of someone reporting a known sex offender staying somewhere besides their registered residence.