Bill Proposes Licensed Residential Sex Offender Clusters

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — Some Alabama State Representatives are hoping a proposed bill will change the laws surrounding where convicted sexual predators are able to live together.

Representatives Kurt Wallace and Paul Beckman are sponsoring the proposal that would make it against the law for sexual predators to live together unless it’s in what they’re calling a licensed, regulated residential sex offender cluster.

The proposed bill is similar to a bill passed into law earlier this year by the Alabama State Legislature. Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr is the sponsor of that bill. It encompasses Morgan County, while the proposed bill will cover the entire state.

In part Senator Orr’s bill made it against the law for convicted sex offenders to live in the same house. “Studies show that if that is the situation there is much more proclivity for them to sexually offend others in the surrounding area,” Senator Orr says.

He says his bill was met with agreement from the Alabama Legislature and Morgan County residents. “Certainly the constituents who had small children who were living near this group sexual offender home, and they certainly wanted something done.”

The proposed bill by Representatives Wallace and Beckman would create what lawmakers call residential sex offenders clusters. The bill spells out what that means.

A residential sex offender cluster would be a tract of land where registered sex offenders could live together. An on-site monitor would also be required to live there to supervise the offenders. The clusters would have to be licensed and it would authorize the Department of Mental Health to make rules regulating the clusters.

If passed this proposed bill would require any sex offenders who wanted to live together to live in one of the clusters. It’s proposed if they violated that, it would be punishable by a felony charge.

Already Alabama has laws preventing convicted sex offenders from living near a school or their victims. Some officials argue it’s already hard enough for them to find a place to live and this proposed bill would make it even harder.

Senator Orr says Representative Wallace has tried before to get a similar bill passed for the whole state. “The bill that has been filed for the 2014 regular session looks very similar to past statewide bills by Representative Wallace.”

He says the 2014 regular session might have the timing the bill needs to pass.

There’s another bill similar to Senator Orr’s that’s in effect for Jefferson County. If the proposed bill passes it will repeal both of those laws.

Lawmakers say the proposed bill would promote public safety, health and confidence

They are expected to take this proposed bill up in the 2014 regular session.