HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-Keeping convicted sex offenders away from each other is the aim of a newly filed bill in the Alabama Legislature.
State Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) is among a group of lawmakers who are targeting so-called sex offender “clusters” that are often near children. If passed, House Bill 85 would prohibit convicted sex offenders from living at the same residence, preventing community living that Ball said has gotten out of hand in many parts of the state. The bill would also require that all sex offenders live at least 500 feet away from each other.
Ball said several Alabama communities have been hampered by groups of sex offenders living together in closely condensed places like motels and apartment complexes.
“When folks feel their children are endangered, we need to do something,” said Rep. Ball, who helped craft the bill. “If someone has a drinking problem or a drug problem, you need to stay away from people with that same problem, because it’s just not conducive to managing to curb your instincts…If children live nearby and there’s just a large number of them [sex offenders], it just creates a huge problem for that particular community.”
House Bill 85 was filed last week, but there are two exceptions for the 500 foot rule. Sex offenders who are temporarily living at treatment centers within close proximity to other offenders’ houses would be exempt from the guidelines, as would sex offenders who are related.
Rep. Ball dismissed claims that the bill would make it even tougher for sex offenders to live anywhere in Alabama. State law already prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools or daycare centers.
“The fact is, if you commit sex offenses, penalties are probably not as harsh as a lot of people would like them to be…Folks need to think long and hard before they commit those violations.”