Tuesday, March 19, 2013

OK - House panel eyes sex offender penalties

Original Article



OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Convicted sex offenders who fail to register with law enforcement would face a minimum of five years in prison under a bill (SB-933) approved by a House committee on Tuesday over the objections of opponents who say it will only make state prison overcrowding worse.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 10-3 for the bill, which already passed the Senate and now heads to the full House for consideration.

"Most people who have to register should realize that's pretty serious," said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, the House sponsor of the bill. "It's not like forgetting to pick up milk on your way home."

Judges currently can sentence offenders to a maximum of five years in prison for failing to register, but Osborn said most receive 90 days and are released with electronic monitoring.

The bill initially would have required a minimum of 10 to 15 years in prison for failing to register, but was amended to include a minimum of five years.

Still, opponents argued the bill takes away the discretion of a judge to be more lenient with low-level sex offenders who have essentially committed a technical infraction.

"What we're doing is wholly unnecessary," said Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater. "We're basically re-prosecuting them for the heinous crime that they were convicted of committing before. Let's not forget they were already punished for that crime."
- Of course it is, but she sees a way to help herself look "tough" on crime, so as usual, she jumps at the opportunity.

An analysis of the bill by House researchers indicates 257 people were convicted of failure to register as a sex offender last fiscal year. Of those, 219 were sentenced to an average of 3.6 years in prison. Based on the 10-year minimum, the projected fiscal impact to the state's prison system was about $3.6 million annually. According to the Department of Corrections, there currently are more than 1,100 delinquent sex offenders who have failed to register with authorities.

Oklahoma had the nation's fifth highest incarceration in 2011, the most recent for which data was available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

David Nichols, the founder and president of Hand Up Ministries that helps convicted sex offenders transition back into society, said the group is relentlessly targeted by lawmakers looking to score political points and tout their "tough-on-crime" credentials. He said convicted sex offenders already are prohibited from living in most urban areas because of restrictions that include churches, daycares, schools, parks and playgrounds.

"They're more than piling on them," said Nichols, who has about 135 sex offenders living at a mobile home park in south Oklahoma City. "They don't want them to have a chance of staying out of prison."

"I'll be honest with you, I trust the politicians a lot less than these guys here."


Loneranger said...

All it takes is not to report a piece of information and you get five years. When most of the country is trying to slow this battleship down and find a way to reduce the cost of this these people are poring the coal to it. One has to wonder why. I guess that little light has not come on yet. The one that you get when you finally see how much this bad idea is costing. they can only hope that this gets voted down. But if not I do hope someone remembers who came up with this great idea and holds them responsible. but that never happens as they just run and hide and hope no one remembers. Sad really as they win votes for being tough on crime and no one ever see's the real cost. Kind of a expensive way to campaign for a job but hey get the people to pay for it with their tax dollars. Perfect.

kikipt said...

I am really tired of hearing these jerks make statements about the "heinous crimes that they were convicted of committing." These people have no idea how many things can get one put on the registry, a vast majority of which are not "heinous" in any reasonable understanding of the word. This equivocation actually minimizes the seriousness of those who have committed truly repugnant acts, and makes any effort to monitor and prevent real sexual offenses ineffective. But the true cost is immaterial, just as it was with the Iraq War - there was so much wealth to be accumulated in the process by those who knew best how to manipulate the public. A similar modality is seen in the commercials put out today by mayors against illegal guns, where they mention how important it is to keep guns out of the hands of "criminals and child molesters." Can anyone tell me of a rash of gun toting child molesters who have been preying on our cities?