September 2, 2016

Surry County law enforcement favors new North Carolina sex offender laws

See also: N.C. lawmakers clarify sex offender law --and-- North Carolina Kicks Sex Offenders Out of Libraries, Parks, and Fairs
9-1-16 North Carolina:

Changes to laws regarding where registered sex offenders can and cannot go take effect today. And that is expected to clarify things for local law enforcement as well as offenders.

“We’re glad the new laws take effect,” Assistant District Attorney Mark Miller said on Wednesday.

The previous law prohibited sex offenders from knowingly being on the premises of places used by children but not solely for that purpose.

But it didn’t specify exactly what that meant, and it applied to sex offenders who had never committed a crime against a minor.

While that was confusing enough for law enforcement and offenders, and outraged civil rights advocates for what was conceived to be an unconstitutional witch hunt, a Fourth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruling in April shot down portions of the existing law and “left a blank space,” Miller said.

“They closed a loophole to keep our children safer,” he said.

The new law more specifically addresses what kinds of places from which a registered sex offender is restricted and generally applies only to offenders who have committed crimes against a victim under 18 years of age.

“As a citizen, I like that,” said James Markham, UNC School of Governments professor who teaches judges, prosecutors and law enforcement on the subject.

“If I’m the sheriff or police, I can enforce that,” he said. “If I’m a sex offender, I know I can’t go there.” ..Continued.. by Terri Flagg

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