Violent offender registry begins Nov. 1

Tuesday, October 19th 2004, 12:28 pm
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Violent offenders will be required to register with law enforcement officials starting next month under a law passed by the Oklahoma Legislature.

They will be required to stay registered for 10 years after they have completed their prison sentence.

They also are not allowed to work near children or for any person or business that works on school premises. The registry will house such information as the offender's full name, or aliases used, a complete description of the person, including photographs, a DNA sample and other information including former residences and where previous violent acts took place.

The Mary Rippy Violent Crime Offenders Registration Act operates much like the sex offenders' registry. The act was named in memory of an 89-year-old Wewoka woman who was strangled in her home last year. A paroled felon who lived next door to the woman was charged with first-degree murder.

Rippy's friend, Jerry Riddle, was a major force behind the legislation.

``The main purpose of this is, really, how well do you know your neighbor,'' Riddle said. ``You could not have found a sweeter, more God-fearing woman on this earth, and to think that someone did this is just horrifying.''

For months, Riddle dedicated all his time to seeing the bill through the legislative process and has even inspired other states to take a look at setting up such a registry.

``I was pretty nervous when I saw the phone light up and ring and I picked it up and they told me, `Congratulations, it passed.' I'm telling you, I cried. I just flat out cried.''

``This is really making sure people don't slip through the cracks. I certainly never dreamed I'd be this involved in politics.''

The registry will begin taking offender information Nov. 1.

When the offenders are registered, local law enforcement not only will notify residential neighbors, but also schools, convenience stores, churches and other places the offender may frequent.