New Oklahoma Sex Offender Law Wont Affect Offenders, Authorities Say

Wednesday, November 2nd 2011, 7:37 pm
By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma's sex offender law was changed slightly on Tuesday, but it doesn't affect one single sex offender in the state of Oklahoma.

Some would argue it wasn't the law, but the perception of it that needed to change.

Read Oklahoma Sex Offender Statistics

The law now says if a man or woman is caught urinating in public, they should be charged with outraging public decency, which is a misdemeanor and doesn't require sex offender registration.

That's always been the case, but a lot of people believe you can be arrested for indecent exposure, which is a felony that requires registration. This new clarification might prevent anyone from slipping through the cracks.

"This will not affect us at all. it will not affect our registry with one single person," said Sgt. John Adams, Tulsa Police Department. 

Sergeant John Adams says not one offender at the state level is affected by this new law clarification either. He says it's a big misconception that if you get caught urinating in public, you have to register as a sex offender. The fact is people lie.

"When someone gets arrested for indecent exposure, they don't want to tell their family and friends what they were doing, so they tell them, I was only peeing in public," Sergeant Adams said.

Sergeant Adams says a law change that would actually make citizens safer, is to change the safe zone around schools and parks from the current 2,000 feet, down to 1,000.

He says right now, about 95 percent of the city is marked out, so there's basically no place for sex offenders to live. He says they still live here, they just don't register anymore.

"This has caused more safety issues for our families than it's helped," he said.

He says there are around 200 sex offenders in Tulsa that authorities have no idea where they are and more than 800 statewide.

He believes by shrinking the safe zones, offenders will have more places to live, so they'll be more likely to register, especially if legislators also add prison time for failing to register.

"Even if they get caught, the standard punishment in Tulsa for failing to register is a suspended sentence. They know that," Sergeant Adams said.

He'd like to see lawmakers change that to a mandatory 5 to 10 years in prison. Then, he believes the sex offender registration law will do what it was designed to do: make families safer.