By Alex Goldsmith
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - If you want to see if a registered sex offender is living in your neighborhood, all you have to do is go onto the state's sex offender registry.
But accomplishing the same goal on the world-wide Facebook neighborhood isn't so easy.
"There have been numerous instances throughout the country where convicted sex offenders have lured children into very unsafe situations using social media," said state Rep. Nate Gentry (R - Albuquerque).
Gentry's solution... a proposed state law that would make it a misdemeanor any of the New Mexico's registered sex offenders from using social networking, chat or instant messaging services where minors are allowed to register on the site.
That would include sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
The proposal is not without its opponents. Brenda Jones, executive director of Reform Sex Offender Laws, says Gentry's bill is overly broad and believes it violates the First Amendment.
"It doesn't take any consideration into account of whether the persons involved actually pose any type of risk," Jones said in a phone interview with News 13. "A lot of the people on the registry now didn't even commit a crime that involved a minor."
"These people have a propensity towards offenses of a sexual nature so we want to make sure we do all we can to protect our children," Gentry responded.
Similar laws in other states have had mixed results when challenged in court. The ACLU has helped litigate legal battles in Nebraska, Indiana and Louisiana.
In Nebraska and Louisiana, judges threw out all or part of sex offender social networking bans because the laws were overly broad or overly restricted First Amendment rights. Louisiana lawmakers later passed another law requiring sex offenders to publicly identify themselves as such on social networking sites.
However in Indiana, a federal judge ruled last June that the state's interests in protecting children was enough to allow the state to regulate which websites sex offenders can use.