Allen County officials could begin charging convicted sex offenders an annual fee to register their addresses if the county commissioners approve a new policy Friday.
A state law enacted four years ago allows counties to set up their own policies and charge a maximum of $50 a year for registration and $5 for each change of address, Commissioner Therese Brown said Wednesday.
The new administrative fund will allow the Allen County Sheriffs Department to retain and use 90 percent of the money, while 10 percent will go to the state, Brown said.
In 2012, that 90 percent would have amounted to about $21,000 for 441 registered sex offenders, Sheriff Ken Fries said.
Fries said his department has three full-time employees who deal with tracking and registering convicted sex offenders. In Indiana, convicted sex offenders must register for either 10 years or life.
The fees would help recover some of the costs, and why shouldnt those guys help pay? Fries said.
Many county departments, including the sheriffs, were advised by County Council members during budget hearings to charge user fees whenever possible in light of dwindling county revenue.
After being released from jail or the Department of Correction, convicted sex offenders are required to visit the sheriffs department in person to register their addresses, Fries said.
Some might not pay the fees at all or be unable to do so until they find employment, Fries said.
We know some of these guys will still be on the DOC assist program when they get out (of prison), Fries said. We understand and will give them some time, but they are still going to have to pay the fines.
Those who fail to pay will be turned over to small claims court, Fries said.
Convicted sex offenders who fail to report address changes can be fined up to $100, plus court costs for each offense, he said.