GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It's not unusual for your doctor's office to call and remind you of your appointment. You're the client, you're payin the bill. So you get a free reminder. But when it comes to the state--- reminding convicted criminals of their responsibilities-- you are the client. But you pay for this reminder. The state uses thousands and thousands of your tax dollars to remind convicted sex offenders they need to verify where they live. But 2 Wants To Know found other places do things differently.
In North Carolina the State Bureau of Investigation mails out letters to each sex offender at every six months. The letters tell the sex offenders to "report in-person" to the sheriff's office to re-verify their address.
But if -- for some reason-- the post office can't deliver the letter, it could compromise community safety. Guilford County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Henderson says a letter comes back at least once a week in his office alone.
"I have to go out to the house, knock on the door. If no one's there leave a calling card. I'll go back two or three times trying to get someone there at different times of the day," Henderson said.
The officer says that's several hours he would normally spend doing other things to protect children. Like measuring by hand to make sure offenders live far enough away from daycares.
A 2 Wants To Know review of laws shows other states update their registries differently. Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia do not mail out reminder letters. Instead while in court sex offenders get two dates to check in. The offenders must remind themselves.
"It's part of being on the registry. It's part of paying for the crime you committed. This is what you need to do. So why not make them responsible?" Henderson said.
And why not save taxpayer's money? Right now, sex offender registry reminder letters are sent certified mail. An envelope obtained by 2 Wants To Know shows it costs $6.48 per letter. Each sex offender gets at least two a year. Now multiply that by North Carolina's 13-thousand-558 registered sex offenders. These letters add up to at least 175-thousand of *your* taxpayer dollars.
2 Wants To Know took our findings to State Representative John Faircloth. He's on the House Justice Committee. This ex-police chief thinks our current law costs too much money and officers time away from more hands-on community protection.
"I think it's certainly a viable concern for the law enforcement agencies," Faircloth said.
Representative Faircloth says he will research changing the law. But there isn't enough time to work on this before the short session starts next week. So if a bill is introduced, it won't be until next year.