Across the country convicted sex offenders are going to extremes to stay under the radar and the founder of a metro sex offender compound says the laws are giving offenders no other choice.
Forty sex offenders are currently living in tents at Hand Up ministries, but another 200 or more have already been forced out of the compound and onto the streets. With restrictions on where they can live, some say offenders are resorting to identity theft.
"The things you have to deal with as an offender are basically difficult," said Bradley Crawford.
Crawford knows firsthand. For more than a decade he has registered as a sex offender.
"Every day I regret that," said Crawford.
As an offender, Crawford is restricted on where he can live and work and admits at times he has considered it would be easier to just change his entire identity.
"It's not possible for me. I am who I am and that's not going to change. To try to do something like that is a lot more effort and work," Crawford said.
Still, a new study shows 1 in 6 offenders will do the work necessary to create an alias. The study found offenders alter their appearance, steal birth dates and social security numbers to avoid registration.
"I don't think they have any other choice," said David Nichols, founder of Hand Up Ministries.
Nichols blames strict laws, saying Oklahoma forces offenders out of this compound and then offers few alternatives
"It's just crazy, just really stupid lawmaking. I mean, I don't know any better word for it," said Nichols.
Attorney David Slane represents dozens of sex offenders.
"I will be candid with you, I have never heard even one in Oklahoma that's done this," said Slane.
While Slane says it is possible offenders could resort to identity theft, he believes more of them, like Crawford, will instead look to a lawyer for help.
"I think that does happen occasionally. It's unreasonable, but not the extent these people are trying to make it sound," said Slane.
The study shows law enforcement's at this time are not reporting an immediate threat due to tracking systems. The study also found that sex offenders will move to states with more relaxed restrictions to make it easier to manipulate identities.
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