By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)—————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the U.S. Marshals Service to verify the addresses of those on the sex offender registry Monday and Tuesday of this week.
On Monday morning, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw welcomed the Marshals, who came to Oconee from different parts of the Palmetto State. The group assembled for a briefing at the Gignilliat Community Center in Seneca. After the meeting, the deputies paired with a Marshal to begin work to verify the addresses of 156 registered sex offender who live in Oconee County. It was during this time that one of those offenders, 43 year old Cynthia Renee Brooks of 249 Mormon Church Road in Seneca, was arrested for a sex offender registry violation for a third offense for failing to register. The Seneca Police Department is credited with the arrest of Brooks.
Through the efforts of the Sheriff’s Office and the Marshals Service, 137 of the 156 sex offenders addresses were able to be verified Monday and Tuesday. Sheriff’s Deputies will continue the operation until all of the remaining offenders are verified.
“The Marshals are not a registering agency, but they can assist local agencies in verifying registered sex offender addresses,” according to Deputy Kelly Winchester, sex offender registrar with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. “The Marshals who we partnered with specialize in locating absconded sex offenders.”
The U.S. Marshals Service serves as the lead federal law enforcement agency responsible for investigating sex offenders registration violation under what is known as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.
The Marshals Service also assists federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies in locating and apprehending fugitive sex offenders, plus, the Marshals Service works closely with other organizations, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Department of Justice Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking Office.
On July 27th, 2006, a federal law was passed which established strict new criminal penalties for sex offenders who fail to comply with the requirements of their sex offender registration. Due to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, those individuals who have been convicted of sex offenses are required by law to register as a sex offender in the jurisdiction(s) where they live, work, and go to school, and in many cases, in the jurisdiction(s) where they were convicted. Sex offenders who fail to register or even keep their registrations current, may be subject to up to 10 years imprisonment, and up to 30 years imprisonment if they commit a crime of violence while non-compliant which does not include charges that may be issued according to state, local, tribal or territorial law.
Under the provisions of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Attorney General can use federal law enforcement resources, including the U.S. Marshals Service, to assist jurisdictions to locate and apprehend those who violate their offender registration requirement. The Marshals Service can assist local, state, tribal and territorial authorities in the location and apprehension of non-compliant sex offenders, investigate violations and related offenses, and assist in the identification and location of sex offenders relocated as a result of a major disaster.
Sheriff Crenshaw requested the assistance through United States Marshal Kelvin Washington, District of South Carolina. “Marshal Washington and I began discussing this operation last year. I am thankful for The Marshal’s assistance as we worked through planning this operation. We intended for this to be a surprise visit and we are pleased with the verification rate of the offenders living in our county. We will continue to be vigilant in making sure sex offenders in Oconee County are following the letter of the law.”