May 21, 2012

Lawmakers To Decide On Oklahoma Sex Offender Bill

5-21-2012 Oklahoma:

OKLAHOMA CITY - Hundreds of sex offenders around the state may soon be removed from the Oklahoma sex offender registry. But some police officers and state lawmakers are trying to make that a little more difficult.

Right now, the Oklahoma Supreme Court is deciding a case that would affect the amount of time all sex offenders convicted before 2007 stay on the list.

And this week, lawmakers are slated to vote on a bill that would require a court order from a judge before they and all other offenders are removed from the registry.

James Starkey was convicted of lewd or indecent acts to a child. He was supposed to be off the sex offender registry in 2008, but a change in state law in 2007 kept him on.

If the Supreme Court rules that was unconstitutional, he and hundreds of sex offenders would be removed from the sex offender registry.

"One of the most heartbreaking and difficult calls we respond to are sex crimes and they tend to be children more often than not," says Officer Mark Nelson the FOP Legislative Chairman.

Now the FOP is calling for greater oversight before any sex offender is taken off the list.

"We think that's a pretty big decision that needs a court review, " said Sen. David Holt (R ) Oklahoma City who authored the bill.

Senator David Holt says the bill would require a judge to review the case of anyone going off the registry to make sure they fulfilled all their obligations.

"I think this is another law that we pass out there to make people feel warm and fuzzy," argued attorney David Slane who represents 80 offenders who may be removed from the list. Slane says the proposed law is unnecessary.

"Most of these people have been on the sex offender registry for a really long time, they've reported for a very long time. Now they're being told they have to go back to court again," said Slane.

Holt says he realizes that but the seriousness of removing someone from the registry outweighs that burden.

"We need to make sure that they have proven for 15 or 25 years they have been fulfilling their obligations and we think it's safe for them," said Holt.

If a judge rules an offender didn't fulfill his or her the judge would be able to can keep the offender on the list.

The bill passed the senate unanimously.

It's now in a house conference committee. ..Source.. by Dana Hertneky, News 9

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