Closer Eye On Sex Offenders

Wednesday, February 7th 2007, 5:07 pm
By: News On 6

Convicted sex offenders are now required to sign up for an online registry and they can't live near places like schools and parks. And soon, sex offenders with children could face even more restrictions. But some say all of these measures to keep track of sex offenders could have the opposite effect.

News On 6 reporter Ashli Sims reports that for many, sex offenders and schools are a scary combination.

"I really don’t think they need to be there at all," says Lynn Purdie, a mother of three children. It's now illegal for a registered sex offender to set foot at a school or park. If they're a custodial parent, they can attend their child's school activities. But they have to be escorted by an adult, who is not a sex offender.

A new bill would change that requiring those parents to give three days written notice, before attending a school event. Some police officers, like Tulsa Police sex crime Sgt. Gary Stansill, question whether more restrictions would actually help. "The restrictions need to be looked at very hard. And say okay, why are we restricting? What's the purpose behind it? Is it going to do any good?'"

Jenks Public Schools has already adopted a similar policy. It's traded old-fashioned pen and paper, for a high-tech computer that can tell them at the click of a button a visitor's status. “This will allow us to make sure that that individual coming into our building is not a registered sex offender," says Jenks administrator Roger Wright. Lobby Guard scans your license, runs a criminal background check, and checks your name against the national sex offender registry. If you come up on either, you're denied entry to the school. “We realized we had some issues with individuals who were parents and sex offenders. We wanted to adhere by the law and we wanted them to be able to participate in their child's education. And we wanted to protect the children in our district."

Jenks does allow parents who are sex offenders to attend a child's play or field trip, if they have written permission, submitted several days in advance. Sgt. Gary Stansill says as the restrictions have gone up, the numbers on the registry have gone down. "When it gets so restrictive that we start losing these people. And they're not registering. It's being counterproductive." He also adds not every sex offender is a child predator.

"To a school district, I believe we do need to know we need to be aware and we need to take extra precautions. We're in charge of our community's most precious commodity, their children. And so we have to take, have a little higher standard," Roger Wright said.