Sunday, October 20, 2013

AL - Alabama legislators want to require license for 'sex offender clusters'

State law requires residents to be notified when a registered sex offender moves nearby.
Original Article

This just goes to show you how ignorant and clueless politicians, who are making these draconian laws, are about their own laws. The residency restrictions are creating these clusters, now they want to pass a law to prevent clustering? Why don't you get rid of the residency laws then it wouldn't be a problem!


By Mike Cason

MONTGOMERY - A few miles outside Clanton, Triumph Church sits on a two-lane county highway bordered by fields, farms and scattered houses.

On most days, about 10 men who have finished prison sentences for rape or other sex crimes live in trailers behind the small church.

A legislator from the county said the men's presence is troubling to some families who live nearby, even though the county sheriff says there's never been a serious incident involving the church and the men who live there.

The community is not happy, I can assure you,” said Rep. Kurt Wallace, R-Maplesville.

Wallace wants the facility to be licensed by the county under an arrangement that would require a live-in monitor and other restrictions. He has proposed legislation (Bill, PDF) that would designate such places as “residential sex offender clusters.” He has pre-filed a bill for the legislative session that begins in January. The law would have statewide application.

Rep. Paul Beckman, R-Prattville, is co-sponsoring the bill because he said there is a similar place in Autauga County.

You’ve got families with kids even though it’s out in the country, and you’ve got no way of safeguarding and protecting them,” Beckman said.

State law already restricts where sex offenders can live. They are not allowed to live within 2,000 feet of a school or child care center, or within 2,000 feet of their victim.

That can make it hard for sex offenders to find a place to live when they are released from prison.

"It's one of those things that nobody wants them, but they have to go somewhere," Wallace said.

Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis said a total of about 60 sex offenders have found a temporary home at Triumph Church over the last few years. The trailers where the men live are behind the church, Wallace said, but are not readily visible from the highway.

Ricky Martin, the church pastor, declined to be interviewed for this story. Martin and others were holding a yard sale next to the church Friday morning.

The sign in front of the church read: "Fear not, the Lord can help you."

A couple who live less than a mile from the church said the men who live at the church have never caused them a problem but they would prefer they were not there.

Sheriff Davis said about 9-11 sex offenders live there most days. He said the number has been as high as about 15.

It has not been a problem,” Davis said. “Certainly I understand the concerns of having them all in one spot. But also, on the flip side, if they’re all there it’s very easy to go and check and make sure they’re all where they’re supposed to be.”

County sheriffs are responsible for keeping track of sex offenders under the state’s Community Notification Act.

Davis said one concern is that many of the sex offenders are not from the county. He said some have come from out of state.

They have no ties to the community. They’re not coming because this is home,” the sheriff said.

Wallace said that is one reason the place bothers him. He said the county doesn't want to be home for sex offenders from all over the state.

We don’t mind taking care of our own," Wallace said.

Wallace said he found out about the sex offender residence after a woman became alarmed when two men knocked on her front and back doors. She didn’t answer but called 911, Wallace said. The two men told authorities they were looking for work. The woman later learned the men were two of the sex offenders living in the trailers.

When she found that out she of course went nuts because she had a couple of small grandchildren that occasionally stay with her,” Wallace said.

Wallace has proposed similar bills the last two years but they did not pass.

The Legislature has passed bills applying only to Jefferson County and Birmingham that prohibit more than one unrelated sex offender from living in the same residence.

Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian said the laws have worked well. Christian said he did not think placing a new requirement on sheriffs to license locations with more than one sex offender was a good idea.

Simply say more than one cannot live at an address and a violation means jail time,” Christian said in an email. “I think that is the most effective way to deal with that issue and it has been effective here in Jefferson County.”

Montgomery County Sheriff D.T. Marshall said there are places in the county where multiple sex offenders live, like some low-rent motels.

It’s getting harder and harder for them to find a place to live,” Marshall said.

When sex offenders reach the end of their prison sentence they are required to have an approved place to live. If not, they are returned to the jail in the county where they were convicted.

Marshall said Wallace’s licensing bill sounded like it could be a good idea but he didn’t want to give an opinion without reading the bill.

The bill sponsored by Wallace and Beckman would define any place that housed two or more sex offenders as residential sex offender clusters and any place that housed five or more as large residential sex offender clusters. The maximum would be 30 sex offenders.

The clusters would have to have a monitor with no record of a felony conviction who lived with and supervised the sex offenders. There could be no less than one monitor for every 10 offenders.

Large residential clusters would have to pay an annual licensing fee of $100 plus $20 per offender.

Chilton County Sheriff Davis said having sex offenders live together raised a concern about how they might influence each other’s behavior. He said jail inmates often express a desire to change their ways, but that can change if they run in the same circles after they’re released.

A lot of times behavior is based on who we hang around," Davis said.

Wallace said he would not be opposed to sex offenders living together in a treatment facility that was certified by the state and said his proposal would exempt such a facility from the licensing requirement.

I just don’t want them hanging out together with nothing to do but sit around and talk about the things that make them do what they do,” Wallace said.


Loneranger said...

Wow this has so many things wrong with it where do I start. First the whole idea sounds like one big leagle loophole they are trying to create.If they were to have such a thing who says they can't just deny a license to whomever they choose. Legally banning any situation they choose and that would be all of them. They create these laws for one reason and that is to move sex offenders out and in the process they retain their property values. Kind of simple really and I bet if they were to track this back there is someone who stands to win from this. But as always that is just my opinion.

shiners said...

The residency restrictions in Florida were passed in 2005; at the height of the real estate bubble. Most people looking to flip their houses weren't able to do so with a sex offender living next door. So the residency restrictions were introduced to get those people out and the homeowners can make their money.

I think what will happen from this article is that the sex offender clusters wont go anywhere because they would be grandfathered in. However, they will grant a license anyways and then the next step would be to build a wall around the cluster. These people are so dangerous that we must build a wall with only one guarded entrance. Everytime they want to leave the cluster, they have to sign out. Let's call it a sex offender ghetto. However, when they leave the ghetto, we need to know who the sex offender is, so they need some kind of marking. They will be supplied with a colored bracelet that must be worn; like the kind used at night clubs and the seal can't be broken when they sign back in when re-entering the ghetto; I mean community.

Then, one sex offender will stray and re-commit a sex offense, and the entire ghetto will be deemed unworthy of life and they will gas them all.

You may want to invest some money in the railroad; I hear that is an efficient way of transporting bodies. Good ole german engineering.

ccp said...

“I just don’t want them hanging out together with nothing to do but sit around and talk about the things that make them do what they do,” Wallace said.

Getting it out in the open and owning what you did is part of the treement process. Identify tiggers, come up with relapse prevention plan with help of your group. Avoid situations that could trigger a relapse.

That is the short version of what we do in my group.