Legislation improving the state’s sex offender registry law has been signed by the governor. Senate Bill 217, by Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. Mike Osburn, modifies Oklahoma’s current sex offender registration law to streamline the notification process between local law enforcement, the courts and the Department of Corrections (DOC) and, in certain cases, will require notification of the Department of Human Services (DHS) as well. It also directs courts assigning sex offender registration levels to follow the guidelines used by the state’s sex offender level assignment committee.
“The purpose of the sex offender registry continues to be public safety—to make sure law enforcement knows where registered sex offenders are living, and making that information available to our citizens,” said Griffin, R-Guthrie. “This legislation streamlines the notification process, ensures greater consistency in assigning levels for registration, and adds an additional requirement for informing DHS when a sex offender returns to a home where his or her minor children, step-children or grandchildren live.”
“When a convicted sex offender reenters society, it is important to maintain checks and oversight. At the end of the day the goal is to protect Oklahoma children and all law abiding citizens,” said Osburn, R-Edmond. “Senator Griffin and I want to thank our fellow members for their support on this measure and to Governor Fallin for signing it into law.”
The DHS notification requirement was a request of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. Current law allows registered sex offenders to live with their own children, step-children or grandchildren, but under the provisions of SB 217, when the sex offender returns to that home, DHS will be notified.
“If an incident is brought to that agency’s attention, they will know immediately that a sex offender lives in the home, highlighting the need to accelerate their investigation of the situation,” Griffin said.
The assignment of “levels” to convicted sex offenders determines how long they must register with law enforcement based on their assessed risk of reoffending as established by the state’s sex offender level assignment committee. That committee assigns those levels for offenders who are actually incarcerated. The change in SB 217 ensures that when courts assign a level in the case of probation, suspended or deferred sentences, the criteria for doing so is the same as that of the committee.
SB 217 takes effect November 1, 2017.