Keeping convicted sexual offenders away from children

Thursday, June 12th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma has two new laws that are designed to keep sexual predators away from your children. One says certain sex offenders can't be near schools, playgrounds or daycares. The other says no sex offender can live close to a school.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains the laws are designed to put a safety net around society's most vulnerable citizens.

From now on, it's illegal for a sex offender, who molested, raped or sodomized a child under 13 years old, to be within 300 feet of a place of one of those locations.

Obviously, in these times of budget cuts, officers can be out patrolling for these types of offenses, but if a citizen sees a suspicious person sitting in a vehicle watching children, they can run a check on them and if they're a convicted sex offender, can take them to jail and get them away from their many potential victims.

The reason for this law is because sexual predators, who target children, frequently strike over and over again.

The second law targets all registered sex offenders, not just the ones who like children. It says they cannot live within 2,000-feet of any public or private school. Tulsa Police Cpl Randy Lawmaster, "It says specifically if you purchase your house before your conviction, you don't have to sell it, but, if you move in there later, the state statute won't allow you to live there.”

Tulsa has 80 schools in 20 different zip codes. We cross-referenced those zip codes with the police departments registered sex offenders. 380 of the city's 500 sex offenders live in those zip codes. They may not be within four blocks of a school, but when you consider the city also has 35 private schools, the law really cuts down on where these people can live, which could lead to a challenge in court.

These crimes are misdemeanors.

The safety zone around playgrounds, daycares and schools is now in effect. The law concerning living near schools goes into effect November 1st.

The Tulsa Police Department will send letters to the city's registered sex offenders letting them know about both.