Concerns About Sex Offenders In Nursing Homes

Sunday, March 2nd 2008, 4:13 pm
By: News On 6

There are laws in place to keep sex offenders far away from children.  But, there's no law that requires those same offenders to stay away from another vulnerable part of our population.

Representative Kris Steele has introduced a bill that would create a nursing home just for registered sex offenders, but there's a catch. You, the taxpayer, will be paying for it.

Representative Kris Steele is concerned about who is being allowed to reside in local nursing homes.

"I think people understand it's not an issue that's comfortable to talk about," Rep. Kris Steele (R) Shawnee said. "It's not a pleasant issue, but it is reality."

And the reality is there are at least 30 convicted sex offenders who live in Oklahoma nursing homes.

"In the next 10 years, there will be something like 2,250 known sex offenders transitioning out of incarceration, age 54 or older," Steele said.

It's expected that a large number of those offenders will one day need long-term care. That's why Steele is pushing forward with House Bill 2704. It calls for a nursing home-type facility in Oklahoma solely for offenders.

"It gives those families piece of mind," Wes Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe is relieved to hear the pending legislation is getting an overwhelming amount of support.

"There is no locked doors between your loved one and this offender in that facility," Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe has done his own research that shows more than 1,600 registered offenders live in nursing homes across America.

He says those offenders have been accused of committing at least 50 violent crimes against other nursing home patients.

"It's not a question of if this is going to happen; the question is when is it going to happen again?" Bledsoe said.

If the bill passes, Steele says federal funds will be used to provide security for the facility and state taxpayer money will go to the owner and operators for care of the patients.

"Whoever might decide to take this project on would be reimbursed the same rate that it would cost them to house any other nursing participant," Steele said.

Considered the worst type of offenders, level two and three offenders would be the only ones allowed to use the facility.

Also, an exact location of where this facility will be has not been determined.

The bill should go before lawmakers sometime this week for a vote. Supporters are urging Oklahomans to contact those lawmakers and urge them to pass House Bill 2704.