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Sex offender bill will take effect July 1

Published 5:21pm Friday, May 2, 2014

A new law will take effect July 1 that prohibits registered sex offenders from living on the same property within 300 feet of each other, unless they are related.

Gov. Robert Bentley signed House Bill 556 into law which will keep the 156 registered sex offenders living in Chilton County from living close to one another.

Rep. Kurt Wallace, R-Maplesville, sponsored the bill after learning about multiple sex offenders living on 40 County Road 374 off Enterprise Road south of Clanton, in campers behind Triumph Church.

Wallace said he tried to get the first version of the bill passed about two years ago but the bill didn’t make it past the committee meeting stage.

“The original bill was an anti-clustering bill that made everybody separate,” Wallace said. “I think it also met opposition because it was a statewide bill and larger counties like Jefferson and Montgomery would have difficulties in keeping track of sex offenders.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office C.J. Robinson helped write the bill that would focus on local restrictions for sex offenders.

“In a county where we have 600 felonies a year, this is one of the few times that we may have the opportunity to prevent a child from getting to be the victim,” Robinson said. “This may be the only chance as a prosecutor to try to prevent a crime before it happens.”

The law gives the district attorney’s office the authority to file a civil complaint against someone owning or leasing property where more than one unrelated sex offender lives.

Robinson explained the bill gives judges the authority to issue fines from $500-$5,000 per violation.

“This bill is not directly punishing the sex offender himself,” Robinson said. “It is adding restrictions for property owners who allow multiple sex offenders to live in one place.”

Alabama requires sex offenders to notify authorities when they move into a county, and authorities notify nearby residents.

Robinson said he started a chart from August 2010 through October 2013 with 51 sex offenders who live behind Triumph Church.

Investigator Erric Price with the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department said there are currently 10 people living at the same address behind Triumph Church.

“At one time there have not been more than 12 or 14 living at the same address,” Price said. “The living accommodations do not allow for more than that to live there.”

The Rev. Ricky Martin, who declined to comment on the record with his comments regarding the new bill, owns the property at County Road 374.

Price said there is currently only one individual living at the property who is from Chilton County.

“I think a lot of these individuals who have lived at the property at one time or another have left to go back from where they came from,” Price said.

Price said the sheriff’s department has responded to a “few” calls at County Road 374 for minor offenses but nothing to do with sex offender crimes.

“We have gone out there before when someone was drinking at the residence or fighting between a few of the individuals,” Price said. “Mr. Martin is really strict with the people he lets live on the property though. He doesn’t even let them smoke cigarettes. He strictly enforces a lot of his rules.”

Currently, sex offenders living at a residence in the county have to report to Price every three months.

“They have to be living at an address that is no less than 2,000 feet from a school or a daycare,” Price said.

When the law goes into effect in July, Price said there is a possibility some of the sex offenders could become homeless, creating additional work with having individuals on the streets.

“A homeless sex offender is allowed to be homeless, and we have about four or five right now who are,” Price said. “They are required to register every seven days, and they have to tell us which park, bridge or each location they find until they establish a residence. It might create more problems if you have a lot of sex offenders on the street in a short amount of time, but from the sheriff’s office we are supportive of whatever the law says.”

Wallace said having the property at County Road 374 invited individuals, many who have finished prison sentences for rape or other sex crimes, to live together.

“I don’t have a problem with individuals from Chilton County taking care of their own, but when you start bringing in other sex offenders from different states to live together, that is something I have a problem with,” Wallace said. “When you get a group of like-minded individuals living together, it is a recipe for disaster.”

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  • M N

    Thank you yellowroselady! The sex offender registration laws have become a political, when in doubt about re-election, pass this type of law. Does it keep kids safe? No, because the emphasis is now lost in the sea of non-violent offenses. All the sex offender registration laws do is punish the families of the offenders (and in most cases the victim). In addition, as studies has shown, most real-sex offenses happen with a family member or a highly trusted acquaintance not a stranger living down the street. I’m looking forward to the new residency law being challenged in Federal Court like the Georgia residency bill was a couple of years ago. If you do the crime, then do the time, but punishing people after their time has been served is unjust no matter if it’s sugar coated as a civil law.

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  • Calvin Sanders

    Safety first. At school, workplace, while driving your car, safety must be a priority. As a parent, I find it very hard to secure the safety of my children. I am a father of two lovely daughters. Both go to high school. I can’t be with them every single time. Me and my wife go to work everyday. It’s hard to be certain about their whereabouts and situation. Good thing I discovered this amazing application installed on my childrens phones. It has a panic button that my children will press in case of an emergency. As simple as that it will automatically be connected to a 24/7 Response center and if needed, your call can be escalated to the nearest 911 Station. Me, along with my wife and close friends as my children’s safety network, will be notified also through text message or a conference call. I worry less. This can help you too. Just visit their site to know more about this:!/page_home

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  • yellowroselady

    The statement indicating “when you have a group of like-minded individuals living together, it is a recipe for disaster” two things…Rep Wallace is ignorant of current research and studies concerning recidivism rates for another sexual offense (according to the the Bureau of Justice Statistics 5.3% were re-arrested for another “sexual” offense but 3.5% were convicted) and the second thing is that he should craft a bill and the governor sign it stating it is against the law to pass bills with NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE indicating a need to do so.

    Another unbelievable statement here concerns folks from other states living in Alabama. Every state has out-of-state registrants but that was used to get it passed which now will create more work for those who have to monitor the homeless that your trusted leaders created. How do I know this? Our organization has a support line and received a call asking for help with finding housing in case the bill was passed as he knew it was targeting them.

    There are over 769,402 men, women and children (as young as 6, 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the “crimes” range
    from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child and many others.

    If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 2,500,000 wives, children,
    moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose
    their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant….all these things occur when these people try to hold their family together and provide the three things that professionals state are needed for successful re-integration; a job, a place to live and a good support system. Let me repeat this last bit…..PROFESSIONALS SAY FOR SUCCESSFUL RE-INTEGRATION REGISTRANTS NEED A JOB, A PLACE TO LIVE and A GOOD SUPPORT SYSTEM.

    Lastly, my message to the legislators is this…..if you don’t know someone on the registry…you will and they may be related to you.

    Vicki Henry
    Women Against Regissry dot com

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