Lawmakers looking to crack down on sex offenders
OKLAHOMA CITY - State lawmakers are working to crack down on where registered sex offenders can go in our state including parks and churches.
There are already laws on the books dealing with where sex offenders can live and where they can go.
However, one state lawmaker said those laws simply are not doing enough to protect children.
Schools and churches are supposed to be some of the safest places or at least that is what we are told.
But, there may be a hole in the safety net.
“If a sex offender wants to go into a church, they are absolutely allowed to as long as they notify the clergy that they are a registered sex offender,” State Rep. Josh Cockroft said.
Right now, House Bill 1890 bans sex offenders from loitering at schools and parks and it also requires them to notify churches of their background.
However, state parks are not included and sex offenders are allowed in churches if they come clean about their past.
“These laws give parents a false sense of security and in reality, there’s not a security there,” Cockroft said.
The representative said it is time to strengthen the law specifically when it comes to the most serious sex offenders, those he said he believes are most likely to re-offend.
Local attorney David Slain said it all sounds good but won’t really do anything except cost the state money in the long run when people challenge the law.
“This is another one of those feel good laws; we pass it so we can feel good like we’re doing something but in turn nothing is going to change,” Slain said. “It’s not going to have any effect. What are you going to have the loitering police driving around schools and parks?”
Cockroft said there is another problem with the current law.
It specifically restricts where a sex offender can live after they have served their time but only if the victim in the case was 13 or younger.
The proposed change would raise that age to 18, meaning many more sex offenders would be barred from living close to schools and parks.