LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — Since August of 1997, thousands of sex offenders have registered with the State of Arkansas, but nearly 200 are classified as missing.
The Arkansas Crime Information Center tells Channel 7 News, when a sex offender fails to update their address, or police discovered they moved during a compliance check, their location is then listed as unknown.
As of Thursday, the state had 15,759 registered sex offenders; 179 have addresses listed as unknown.
In 2008 a federal act was passed to allow U.S. Marshals to legally assist local law enforcement in finding the absconders, a law the ACIC credits for decreasing the amount of sex offenders missing, by around 10 to 15 percent.
"A local law enforcement agency must get an arrest warrant for failure to comply and once you have a local arrest warrant, then the marshals can go in under certain circumstances if the offender has crossed state lines and not registered in the other state, if they go to another town in Arkansas or another county and they don't register there,” said Paula Stintz, ACIC’s Sex Offender Registry Manager.
While the ACIC does consider the 179 missing, a fairly lower number than in years past, finding them is their top priority.
"ACIC is victim based, that's what we worry about more than we worry about anything else is victims of crimes, survivors of crimes so that's always upper most in our minds, what we can do to let them know what's going on."
Failure to register as a sex offender, or update your address status is a Class C felony, which typically means more prison time or further probation or parole time.