FORT WAYNE – Sex offenders in Allen County will have to pay an annual fee to register their addresses starting April 1.
The Allen County commissioners voted unanimously Friday to impose the fee, which is allowed under a state law enacted four years ago. The statute 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.
The new administrative fund will allow the Allen County Sheriff’s Department to retain and use 90 percent of the money, while 10 percent will go to the state, Commissioner Therese Brown said.
In 2012, that 90 percent would have amounted to about $21,000 for 441 registered sex offenders, Sheriff Ken Fries has 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.
Brown said officials recognize that many offenders will not be able to pay the fee because they cannot get jobs. But some will be able to pay, and they should, she said.
It crosses all economic levels, Brown said. But this is something the sheriff’s department is going to have to work through and administer.
She said it is similar to many of the fees and fines imposed by the courts, many of which are never paid. That doesn’t mean those fees should not be imposed, she said.
It’s not intended to generate a lot of money, Brown said. It might generate maybe $20,000.
After being released from jail or the Department of Correction, convicted sex offenders are required to visit the sheriff’s department in person to register their addresses.
We know some of these guys will still be on the DOC assist program when they get out (of prison), Fries said Wednesday. 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.
Vivian Sade of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.