The Georgia Bureau of Investigation makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the Georgia Sex Offender Registry is accurate. § 42-1-12, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is the central repository for Georgia's Violent Sexual Offender Registry. Graham County Sheriff Danny Millsaps told sex offenders about his decision Feb. "I cannot let one sex offender go to church and not let all registered sex offenders go to church."He invited them to attend services at the county jail.
In an interview Friday, Millsaps said he may have made a mistake when he wrote that offenders "are not permitted to attend church services."He said he understands the Constitution gives everyone the right to religious freedom.
But he said he's standing by his take on North Carolina law blocking offenders from places where children are present."I understand I can't keep them from going to church," he said. I'll be the first one to say I might have made mistakes in the wording of that letter."Millsaps has no immediate plans to arrest a sex offender should one of the 20 in his county attend church Sunday, he said.
Graham County Manager Greg Cable said the county attorney is looking into the matter and any legal mistakes would be corrected.
At the Citizen-Times' request, the American Civil Liberties Union in Raleigh is reviewing Millsaps' letter.
The newspaper also sent a copy to the North Carolina Department of Justice for an opinion on the law. Other North Carolina counties have dealt with the same issue:• In Chatham County, deputies in 2009 arrested a sex offender for attending church, citing the same law.
A state Superior Court judge eventually ruled the law as applied to churches was unconstitutional.• In Buncombe County, sex offenders are permitted in church as long as pastors know and are in agreement, Sheriff Van Duncan said.
That's similar to the county's policy for allowing sex offenders at school events like ball games.
They are allowed as long as school administrators have warning, and the offenders are monitored to some extent, the sheriff said.
This program provides a safe and comfortable environment for supervised visits and monitored exchanges of children by and between parents in situations involving domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault or stalking.