Many Voice Concerns Over Legislation That Clarifies Where Sex Offenders Can Live

Tuesday, March 29th 2011, 7:10 pm
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Lawmakers are considering a bill that would clarify where registered sex offenders are allowed to live, but some opponents to the bill said if it passes it would pose a danger to the community by putting some of those offenders out on the street.

"It would put a hundred or so people on the streets," said David Nichols, the Founder of Hand Up Ministries, an organization that helps registered sex offenders.

Nichols has a gated mobile home park in south Oklahoma City that houses more than 200 registered sex offenders. He said if the bill passes, he'd be forced to close it down.

"They already have 118 that register as homeless and there's several hundred they don't know where they are because they fail to register," said Nichols. " To me that's a safety concern."

SB852 would clarify language already on the books about where and how a sex offender is allowed to live. The bill would define a "multi-unit structure to mean a structure with multiple residential units that provide independent living facilities for living, sleeping, cooking, eating and bathroom needs. Manufactured homes, mobile homes, trailers and recreational vehicles that do not have those available would not be considered suitable for registered sex offenders to live in. The measure would also prevent any person from establishing, leasing operating or owning any place where sex offenders are allowed to live together."

The bill received unanimous approval in the Senate and passed a House Judicial committee Monday. It will now go for consideration before the House of Representatives in the next week or two.

One of the big proponents of the bill is Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty.

"This is not an attempt to evict anyone," said Oklahoma City Police Capt. Patrick Stewart. "It's not meant to cause anyone not to live in any facility or location. It is just to clarify the intended purpose of the sex offender statute."

According the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, there are currently 6,887 registered sex offender throughout the state. Law states they cannot live within 2,000 feet of a school, park, or licensed daycare.