February 16, 2013

Group opposes sex offender laws

The bill allegedly prevents a certain specific circumstance, yet no one can ever cite whether that has or will ever happen? Fabricated circumstance is in the minds of lawmakers only...
2-16-2013 Arkansas:

Sheriff says monitoring prevents offenses

Carla Swanson, executive director of Arkansas Time After Time, thinks current sex offender laws punish people who have “made one stupid mistake” as well as their families. That’s why she opposed Sen. Missy Irvin’s proposal to bar certain sex offenders from swimming areas and playgrounds at state parks, and it’s also why she opposes Sen. Jonathan Dismang’s measure to keep sex offenders in prison longer.

Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery, a proponent of monitoring convicted sex offenders, disagrees and thinks Dismang’s Senate Bill 150 is good legislation.

Irvin’s measure, SB12, already has been passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mike Beebe. The bill prohibits sex offenders classified as Level 3 and Level 4 from entering a children’s playground or swimming area within a state park. Irvin, a Mountain View Republican, represents a portion of Baxter County.

Arkansas Time After Time, a Russellville-based advocacy group seeking reform of sex offender laws, opposed SB12, and currently opposes SB150. Swanson called SB150 is unnecessary and punitive towards sex offenders and their families.

Swanson told The Bulletin a number of sex offenders are falsely accused, the registration laws make it difficult for offenders to find work and places to live, and that the laws punish their families through stigma.

“That’s not just a man on the sex offender registry, that’s his wife and their children,” Swanson said. “They become victims, kids get teased, they get beat up.”

The bill would give the parole board too much power to keep sex offenders in prison, contends Swanson, who says most sex offenders do not commit repeat offenses.

“This bill would give the parole board more power to keep people in prison. As a citizen, you might think this is great, it’s keeping your children safe,” Swanson said. “That’s not true. In the case of sex offenses, 95 percent of them are perpetrated by new offenders. Most sex offenders have made one stupid mistake they’ll regret for the rest of their lives.”

Montgomery has a different opinion of why current sex offenders do not become repeat offenders.

“I strongly disagree with her opinion,” Montgomery told The Bulletin. “I believe the reason registered sex offenders don’t re-offend is because we monitor them so closely. I think you can find a significant amount of research that shows pedophiles aren’t cured. They still have that desire.”

Montgomery said he thinks SB150 is a good piece of well-written legislation.

“I’d like to see the cost analysis,” Montgomery said. “I’d like to know where the money will come from.”

Dismang, R-Beebe, is the lead sponsor of the SB150 with Reps Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, and Mark Biviano, R-Searcy, acting as co-sponsors. The proposal received a “do pass” recommendation Thursday from the House Judiciary Committee after being approved unanimously Monday by the Senate.

Dismang said a cost analysis study was conducted indicating the bill would cost $2 million over five years.

“I feel confident the Arkansas Department of Corrections can absorb that cost,” Dismang told The Bulletin. “I think the cost analysis is the best argument for the bill. If there weren’t people being released early who still needed to be in prison, the cost would be significantly less.”

Dismang said the House is expected to take up SB150 sometime in the coming week. ..Source.. by BaxterBulletin

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