Bill filed to close sex offender loophole

Bill filed to close sex offender loophole

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation has been filed that seeks to close a loophole in Oklahoma statutes that allow sex offenders to live next door or near their victim.

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 House Bill 1124, by Rep. Kyle Hilbert and Sen. James Leewright, looks to change Oklahoma statutes to include the residency of the victim of a sex crime to the list of places that have a “zone of safety” around them. In Oklahoma law, the “zone of safety” is a 500-foot area around places that sex offenders are not allowed to loiter. However, the zone around a victim’s residence will be 1,000 feet if this bill passes.

 “You should feel absolutely safe in your own home,” said Hilbert, R- Depew.  “A town can have multiple schools, parks and daycares, but normally, the offender’s victim only has one home. It is not too much to expect an offender to stay 1,000 feet away from one location.”

 This particular loophole was discovered when convicted sex offender Harold English moved next door to his victim Danyelle Dyer. Since that time, Dyer has begun advocating for the law to be changed. It has now been discovered that 45 of the 50 states have this same loophole.

“Danyelle’s courage and commitment will make sure that another Oklahoman doesn’t have to experience what she has had to during this ordeal,” Leewright said. “Not only has Danyelle made Oklahomans safer, but as word spreads, we expect the remaining states to follow suit and make all Americans safer.”

 The legislation is set to be heard next session. Like all legislation, it will begin in committee and work its way through the legislative process. However, optimism is high that bipartisan support will see this bill pass quickly.

 “I look forward to getting this piece of legislation in and passed out of my committee in the first week,” said Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha. “Stepping up and protecting victims is something every legislator should be doing at the Capitol. At the very beginning of our 2018 session, we will have a chance to protect our victims, to change our state for the better. I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this legislation, and I am extremely proud of Danyelle for the courage she has showed.”

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