Checking in with sex offenders at motels

Checking in with sex offenders at motels

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There are more than 13,000 registered sex offenders in the state of Arkansas.

Roughly half are in compliance, meaning they have let police know where they live.

Some of them make their home in a place you may not have thought of: local hotels.

Detective Ernest Ward of the Jonesboro Police Department says there are 3 living in hotels in Jonesboro.

Ward should know. He's one of the officers tasked with keeping track of sex offenders.

According to his most recent information, three Level 3 sex offenders make their home in the 2900-block of Phillips Drive in Jonesboro.

"The reason they do this is they are of a high enough level that they can't find a place to live that is 2000 feet away from school daycare of public park," said Ward. "Or because they are a sex offender, they can't find a home, therefore they can't find a place to live so they go to a hotel or motel."

But is this a problem? Are these sex offenders breaking the law by living in a hotel or motel where you and your family could be staying in the room next door?

"No, they are not," Ward said. "As long as they live in a hotel that is, depending on their level, that they are far enough from restricted areas then they are not violating any laws."

While it may be disconcerting that a sex offender could be in the room next door, as long as they are registered sex offenders that should be considered a good thing.

Sherry Flynn works for the Arkansas State Department of Correction. Her job is to assess an offender's threat level.

"I want to know where he is, not where he isn't," she said.

She said it's better to have an offender in compliance. Even if that's a hotel, it's better to know where they are.

"We work very hard to keep track of them," Flynn said. "They could be up to anything."

According to research from the Arkansas Crime Information Center, the agency that assesses an offender's threat level and tracks them at a state level, only 5-7% of sex offenders re-offend.

If you are concerned about the real, but rare risk of ending up in a hotel that serves as home to a sex offender, you can always check each state's database to see if any offenders call your 'home for a night' their home.

"Probably a good idea," Ward said. "If you are going to stay someplace see if there is a sex offender there, especially if they have children. It all goes back to good parenting too, keep an eye on your children, especially if you are in an area where you don't live and you're not from."

Before you check in to a motel, you might want to check out the sex offender registries for Arkansas or Missouri.

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