Sex Offenders Could Be Among Disaster Victims in Region 8

September 14, 2005 – Posted at 3:12 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO , AR -- Hundreds of Hurricane Katrina evacuees are now living in Region 8, and many have plans to stay. While most are welcome here, there is a small group that may not be wanted.

With nearly a half-million registered sex offenders across the United States, there were more than 4500 hundred in 14 Louisiana parishes displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The State of Louisiana has no policy in regard to sex offenders during hurricanes or evacuations. That means those registered in the system could end up anywhere, including Region 8.

"According to Arkansas State law, it's the sex offender's responsibility to notify the police department," said Jonesboro Police Sgt. Stephen McDaniel.

For sex offenders who haven't registered in Arkansas, the clock is ticking.

"The state law requires them to, within 30 days of establishing residency in Arkansas, to notify the police department and the ACIC, let them know that they are a registered sex offender. At that time they will be required to submit fingerprints to the police department, be photographed, provide a DNA sample," said Sgt. McDaniel.

Sex offenders will also have to cough up a $250 processing fee for the state crime lab. Money that many evacuees may not have.

"We consider residency to be some place where they receive mail or actually have a physical address where they can say they can call home. Somewhere they call home," said McDaniel, "It could be a shelter if that's a semi permanent address for them."

While the Red Cross does confirm evacuee's identity and that they are from affected areas, they do not do background checks. Sgt. McDaniel says so far there haven't been any hurricane evacuees to register as sex offenders in Jonesboro , and he says he hopes to keep it that way.

Sex offenders can contact local police departments to register or log onto