By BRENNAN DAVID
A computer program used by the Boone County Sheriff's Department to determine restrictions on sex offenders contains inaccurate measurements, and deputies will have to review all current offenders to determine whether they are in compliance with the law.
Last week, a registered sex offender living in a group home was asked to relocate when the sheriff's department learned the geographic information system, or GIS, used by the department contained measurements that are incorrectly calculated. The offender, [name withheld], had been living in the home and has since been relocated to a different group home.
The home was discovered to be within 1,000 feet of Lange Middle School, and [name withheld] can't live within 1,000 feet of a school. [name withheld] 21, was convicted of a deviant sexual assault against a 17-year-old Mexico, Mo., woman in 2008.
The group home, Prosperous Journey Men's Transition House, is operated by JAJ LLC. The group home allows as many as eight men to live there at a time and provides affordable, temporary housing for all offenders, not just sex offenders.
[name withheld]'s acceptance would have been reliant on approval by the Missouri Department of Corrections of his home plan, said Randy Hodill, executive director of Love In the Name of Christ, or Love INC. He said that home plan might have included information from the sheriff's department concerning the group home's proximity to neighboring schools.
Initial calculations placed Lange just feet outside the required 1,000-foot restriction, sheriff's department Detective Jessica Jameson said, but the sheriff's department has since learned the GIS was calculating distances from the center of schools to the center of homes. That measurement was sufficient for [name withheld] to reside at the Grace Ellen address, but that's not how Boone County detectives enforce restrictions.
State statute only provides distances, not guidance on how to measure, such as from property line to property line or door to door.
For the past four years, detectives have enforced distances from property line to property line, Detective Andrea Luntsford said. That measurement started when the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney's Office recommended it instead of measuring door to door.
A measurement from the group home's property line to the school's property line was within 1,000 feet, Luntsford said. [name withheld] was not arrested for violating restrictions because he was permitted to live at the Grace Ellen residence.
[name withheld] could not be reached for comment.
Luntsford and Jameson are sex offender coordinators for the sheriff's department and are now responsible for recalculating distances for all 280 sex offenders who must abide by restrictions within Boone County.
As of Friday afternoon, [name withheld] was the only sex offender found to not be in compliance, but Jameson admitted they are very early in the process.
"We've been looking," Jameson said. "We suspect others are in neighborhoods nowhere close to schools."
A second sex offender now resides at the Grace Ellen property but is not required to relocate per regulations related to his conviction.
About 15 of the 280 sex offenders in Boone County are homeless, and their whereabouts are unknown.
Because state law does not guide law enforcement agencies how to measure these distances, online resources such as the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Sex Offender Registry might contain different information than local law enforcement agencies.
A Missouri State Highway Patrol representative could not be reached for comment.