Staff and Wire Reports
Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill into law on Tuesday that will take registered sex offenders out of standard nursing homes.
The law is the first of its kind in the nation and is intended to prevent assaults, rapes and murders by offenders who live in the same nursing homes as their victims.
Elder rights advocate Wes Bledsoe developed the idea for the law after hearing reports of a 43-year-old man accused of killing four people in 2005 had been ordered by a judge to live in a nursing home in Jones.
"This is a concrete bill that's gonna actually remove predators from facilities to protect our loved ones in these facilities," Bledsoe said. "No other bill has an impact like this."
Richard Curnutt said he joined the cause when he learned his terminally-ill son had been sexually assaulted in a nursing home.
"He's not gonna be the only one," Curnutt said. "As our baby boomers hit the nursing homes, they need to be kept safe."
The law authorizes the state Department of Health to seek proposals for operating an existing stand-alone, long-term care facility for high-risk sex offenders. The facility would have specially trained staff and surveillance and security equipment to protect the public as well as other residents of the facility.