Bill would toughen sex offender law

Published 10:34 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Legislation drafted by Chilton County State Sen. Cam Ward that would toughen the state’s sex offender registration process passed the Senate on Thursday. The bill will go before the House next week.

If passed, the measure would require stricter registration and close several loopholes in the law, Ward said.

“It is of vital importance that we keep our families and neighborhoods safe,” Ward said, in a press release. “This bill will help to protect our children by enabling us to better know where sex offenders are in Alabama.”

Senate Bill 296 will require that adult sex offenders verify their registration information four times a year. The legislation would also require guidelines concerning abandonment of a residence and prohibit sex offenders from living with a minor if the offender’s sibling was his or her victim or if the offender was convicted of a crime involving force against a minor.

The bill would also close a loophole in the law concerning homeless sex offenders. If the law is passed, sex offenders without a permanent residence would be required to register weekly until a fixed residence is established.

“The loophole in the current law needed to be closed,” said Ward.

The bill would also give judges discretion to reduce or waive the distance restrictions for certain sex offenders who are terminally ill or permanently disabled. The bill also establishes how those boundaries are to be measured.

The full text of Senate Bill 296 (about 90 pages) can be read online at the Alabama Legislative Information System Online at