Bill Tightens Housing Restrictions for Oklahoma Sex Offenders

Oklahoma sex crime defense lawyers fight to protect the rights of their accused clients.  They see firsthand the difficulties one must face if convicted of a sex crime and forced to register as an Oklahoma sex offender. 

Housing restrictions are one of the biggest challenges for registered Oklahoma sex offenders, with some reports showing that up to 85 percent of Oklahoma City is off-limits to registered sex offenders

With the recent passage of Oklahoma Senate Bill 852, some 270 registered Oklahoma sex crime offenders may be forced to find new housing. Authored by Senator Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, SB 852 specifically targets the Hands Up Ministries of south Oklahoma City.  Hands Up Ministries is a mobile home park in which up to 270 registered sex offenders reside. 

According to Reverend David Nichols, founder and director of Hands Up Ministries, the men who live in the park are required to keep a job, get regular treatment, and pay $100 a week, or $400 month, for rent and expenses. Each three-bedroom mobile home houses three sex offenders. 

SB 852 clarifies an existing Oklahoma law that prohibits sex offenders from living together and defines a "multi-unit structure" in which multiple sex offenders are allowed to reside.  The original law was intended to refer to buildings such as apartments and apartment complexes, but since each man has his own room at Hands Up Ministries, Nichols interpreted the law to include  mobile home parks. SB 852 would define a multi-unit structure as not merely a residence with separate bedrooms, but a structure that provides multiple independent living facilities with complete sleeping, cooking, living, and bathroom areas in each unit.

Proponents of the bill say that SB 852 is not designed to target any specific business, agency, or organization, but it is meant to clarify existing law. Opponents of SB 852 say that the law will force the closure of Hands Up Ministries, and in turn, will leave up to 270 registered sex offenders in Oklahoma homeless. 

While some men may be able to find housing elsewhere, others will have much more difficulty.  Some critics of the bill say that many sex offenders may simply fail to register, which will leave these high-risk sex offenders under the radar, and could therefore endanger public safety.

Though the bill was initially defeated by a vote of 21-25, it was passed upon reconsideration by a vote of 34-12. Conviction of a sex offense carries restrictions of freedom that can last a lifetime, decades after an initial prison sentence has been served.  Laws designed to protect the public from sexual predators grossly inhibit opportunities for those complying with treatment and trying to make a fresh start.  If you have been accused of a sex offense, seek skillful defense from an aggressive sex crime defense attorney in Oklahoma.

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