Convicted sex offenders continue to face some of the most severe and lasting criminal penalties. A new bill before the Alabama Legislature would place additional restrictions on sex offenders who were convicted of crimes against minors. If passed, the bill would require registered sex offenders to warn the principal before entering a K-12 school campus. The law would also give authority to the schools to monitor the sex offender while in the school or on campus. This is one of many restrictions placed on convicted sex offenders who are required to register in Alabama and nationwide.
Sex offender entry restrictions have been repeatedly challenged as being unconstitutional or overreaching. Overall, the sex offender registration system groups offenders categorically, punishing convicted offenders for very different crimes. It is unfortunate that sex offender laws simplify such complex situations and issues, leaving many struggling to find gainful employment or a place to live. Our Birmingham sex crimes defense attorneys understand the gravity of these cases and handle cases with sensitivity and discretion. We are also abreast of changes and developments in sex offender laws and are dedicated to protecting the civil rights of the accused.
According to reports, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve Hurst from Munford who was surprised to find that sex offenders were not already banned from campuses. Currently, under Alabama law, it is a felony for sex offenders to loiter within 500 feet of a school, however the law does not restrict sex offenders from actually being on campus. Legislators believe that sex offenders can go ignored, especially if they already have a child who enters the school.
The bill has passed in the House of Representatives and would force offenders who committed a crime with a minor to report to the principal any time they enter a campus. The bill also allows school systems to establish policies for supervising sex offenders when they are on campus. While the intention prevent child predators from entering schools, the law could also have wide implications for any parent, grandparent, or individual who was ever convicted of a sex crime.
According to Alabama education authorities, the bill passed after a woman who was previously convicted of a sex offense applied for a position as a substitute teacher. In the past, similar laws have been struck down because they violate the constitutional rights of offenders. This bill is limited only to include offenders who were convicted of a crime against a minor in order to comply with former court rulings.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has previously challenged similar zones that restrict access to sex offenders. It is unknown whether they will seek to challenge this law as well. Those who have been accused of a sex crime or who are currently under investigation should be aggressive in defending their rights. Sex allegations are often false and can arise from domestic disputes, including a divorce or other family conflict. Any conviction will carry serious penalties including lifetime registry as a sex offender and potential jail time.