LAW enforcement officers in Kentucky and West Virginia recently got out their lists and checked them twice, resulting in the arrest of 25 sex offenders who failed to comply with the sex offenders registry law.
In an effort led by the U.S. Marshal's Service, officers checked on 480 sex offenders.
Only 25 were so out of compliance that they were arrested. That means 95 percent are following the rules of registration. That's a fairly high percentage of compliance.
Such checks are reassuring and necessary.
Requiring sex offenders to register with the state when they leave prison is relatively new. West Virginia did not adopt such a law until 1996.
Before then, the parole board in West Virginia often put sex offenders on parole because it could keep track of them. If they served their full sentences, offenders did not have to register.
It came down to a choice between bad and worse for board members.
"Those are your two options. Which one do you want?" said Bruce Carter in 1995 when he was chairman of that board.
The next year, lawmakers changed that. They also made the new registry public information.
Despite warnings from the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics, the list did not encourage vigilantism.
But a sex offenders registry is only as good as enforcement is. The recent verification effort shows that law enforcement officials treat this list as more than just paperwork.
"Protecting our children from those who would harm them must always be our top priority," said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
"Every child is precious, and as recent events have tragically reminded us, their safety requires our constant vigilance."
The sex offenders registry is a success story and will remain so as long as society takes it seriously.