By John Lyon and Rob Moritz
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday endorsed a measure that would ban some sex offenders from swimming areas and children’s playgrounds at state parks.
SB 12 (PDF) by Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, would prohibit level 3 or 4 sex offenders from being at a swimming area or a children’s playground in a state park, but would allow them to visit other areas in state parks.
Irvin said the bill expands on Act 816 of 2011, which prohibited level 3 or 4 sex offenders from being at city-owned swimming areas or water parks.
Richard Davies, director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, spoke for the measure.
“We felt like we needed to do something because whether right or wrong, the playground, swimming pool or the beach are often where children are left by parents unattended, for the most part,” Davies said.
Speaking against the bill were Lynn Gilmore, CEO of Sex Offender Solutions and Education Network, and Carla Swanson, executive director of Arkansas Time After Time, an organization that works to help sex offenders who have served their prison time adjust to society.
“I know that many sex offenders have families, and when you punish a sex offender you not only punish them, you punish that family member,” Gilmore said. “I know many Level 3 and Level 4 sex offenders that do have families and they just simply made a mistake in their past and they’re trying to get on with their life, trying to find work and housing .”
Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, told Gilmore he wasn’t concerned about the sex offender’s family.
- Of course he's not, he's only concerned about what make himself look good to the sheeple. He took an oath to defend the Constitution and that includes the rights of everyone, not just whom he likes.
“I’m a little concerned about the victim and their families,” he said.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
The committee also endorsed SB 56 (PDF) by Sen. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, which would require out-of-state sex offenders to pay the $250 fee to register as a sex offender in Arkansas.
The bill goes to the Senate.