There will be a few more laws regulating the lives of convicted sex offenders in Oklahoma effective November 1, 2012. Oklahoma sex offenders have seen their civil liberties violated more than any other class of convicts over the past decade, and the steady encroachment continues in Oklahoma this fall. Oklahoma sex offenders should be accustomed by now to the living restrictions which the Oklahoma legislature has forced upon them; however, the new 2012 Oklahoma sex offender registration changes will adversely affect more than a few citizens of Oklahoma.
Beginning November 1, 2012, Section 590 of Title 57 of the Oklahoma Statutes will contain a provision which further imposes restrictions on the living conditions of those convicted of an Oklahoma sex crime. According to the new version of Section 590, which will go into effect on November 1, 2012:
It shall be unlawful for any person who is required to register pursuant to the Sex Offenders Registration Act for any offense in which a minor child was the victim to reside with a minor child or establish any other living accommodation where a minor child resides. Provided, however, the person may reside with a minor child if the person is the parent, stepparent or grandparent of the minor child and the minor child was not the victim of the offense for which the person is required to register.
Obviously, the first and most apparent issue with this new law is that offenders will no longer be allowed to reside in any home where a minor child resides unless the offender is the parent, stepparent, or grandparent of the minor. This will definitely raise issue for offenders who live with extended family, such as nieces and nephews. Furthermore, issues may arise when individuals decide to cohabitate during a dating relationship when the residence includes minor children outside the scope of the law.
Some will of course argue that anyone with a 'proven' proclivity for pedophilia should never be allowed to live in the same residence as a minor child. Of course there are three positions inherent in such an argument:
- Sex offenders should be allowed to live in the same residence as a minor, so long as the minor was not the victim of the sex offender's crime.
- Sex offenders should not be allowed to live in same residence as a minor, unless the minor is the sex offender's child, stepchild, or grandchild and the minor was not the victim of the sex offender's crime.
- Sex offenders should not be allowed to live in the same residence as any minor child, period.
The third position is much too strong; such an argument would tear apart families to an extent never logically intended by the Oklahoma legislature. Conversely, the first position may in fact be too lax: there are individuals on the Oklahoma sex offender registry who have a sexually deviant interest in minor children, and as such should not be allowed to live with children other than those who they have custody over. While the Oklahoma Legislature should be applauded for taking an apparent middle ground, we must recognize that, like so many other times, it has failed to address the actual interest at issue: pedophiles having access to child victims.
The Oklahoma sex offender registry contains every individual convicted of, or receiving a deferred sentence for, one of the enumerated registerable crimes. The problem however, is that only a small portion of these crimes relate to child abuse, and many of them have absolutely no correlation to acts committed to, or in the presence of, minor children. Consequently, the Oklahoma Legislature could have enacted a much tighter and effective statute by restricting the statute to the offenders who are registering pursuant to a crime relating to minor children. However, as usual, a wide net has been cast over the entire mass in the hope of addressing a small percentage of the problem.