New Oklahoma Law Forcing Sex Offenders Into Tents Raises Concerns
OKLAHOMA CITY - A new law that went into effect over the weekend has forced a number of sex offenders into tents or out onto the streets. That's according to the founder of a ministry that houses and helps rehabilitate sex offenders.
More than 40 sex offenders at Hand Up ministries are now living in tents here on the property. And according to the founder of the ministry, several residents didn't want to live in tents. So they left. And now he has no idea where they are.
William Duford's new home is now a tent.
"It's like living in cave man days," he says.
Duford used to live in a trailer. Up until July 1 when the new law took effect, three residents lived in the three bedroom trailers at Hands Up ministries.
But the new law limits the number of offenders that can live in one dwelling. David Nichols runs Hand up which helps rehabilitate sex offenders after they get out of prison.
"The only ones I can take now are the ones that are willing to sleep in a tent," Nichols said.
And while some offenders like Duford have stayed at the ministry and live in the tents. Nichols says several have left: over 100 since a year ago when the law was passed.
"Is that good for Oklahoma?" Nichols asks. "I doubt it. I don't think it's going to lessen crime, I think it's going to increase crime.
Nichols says without a place to live and a job, many offenders won't register, and will likely go back to prison.
"They asked for a year, we gave them a year, not our fault," Sen. Clark Jolley said.
Jolley authored the law at the request of the Oklahoma City Police Department and argues offenders who live together are more likely to reoffend.
"You can't have multiples in a house, you can't have multiples in an apartment complex, why should we allow for all the trailer parks across the state of Oklahoma to be exempt from that?" Jolley said.
Those offenders who have to live in the tents will now have to register as homeless.
Nichols is in the process of building showers and bathrooms for the men who have to live in the tents. He said he will file a lawsuit challenging the new law.