Bill could restrict sex offender housing choices even more - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Bill could restrict sex offender housing choices even more

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) -An Arkansas lawmaker has presented a bill that she hopes tells more sex offenders to stay away from children.

Republican Representative Karen Hopper of Mountain Home wants to make sure offender live no where near Arkansas schools.  Those who are a level three or four sex offender cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school or other location where children are present on a regular basis like a park or daycare.  This bill would extend that to include some level two offenders.

When parents send their children to school they like to think they are safe.  Playgrounds are kept behind fences, doors are locked and there are rules to prevent strangers from coming inside the buildings.

"Anything that the legislature does to try to protect children, I think that's a very noble thing and a good thing," said Walnut Ridge High School Principal Charles Lee.

"We need to put our children's rights and the protection of our children way above a sex offender's rights," said Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson.

The restrictions would apply to those level two offenders who are older than 18 and their victim was 14 years or younger at the time of the crime.

"What the bill is asking us to do, or asking our local law enforcement is follow them even more closely," said Lee.  Lee said he has mixed feelings on this bill.  "Definitely with level three and a level four sex offenders I think knowing their exact location at all times is very important."

Principal Lee said he wonders if adding these new restrictions would be enough and should these types of restrictions be added to other types of crimes.

"There are some criminal activities that I would like for us to monitor a little bit closer such as drug activity," said Lee.

Dotson said there are instances where a sex offender who is already restricted is found living where they're not supposed to and steps have to be taken.

"We knock on the door say, ‘Look you're a level three or level three', whatever the case may be and, ‘according to the law you can't live here you need to make arrangements to get moved as soon as possible'," said Dotson.

Dotson said similar bills have been presented before that have failed to pass.  Lee said anything the legislature can do to provide added protection for children is greatly appreciated.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly