By Rex Hodge . . . A new sex offender ban is now in effect in North Carolina.
The new law bans offenders whose victims were under 18, or anyone legally deemed a threat to children, from many places kids may gather. It replaces a previous law a judge deemed too vague in 2009.
Haywood County leaders say the new law lays out specific places sex offenders can’t go.
“It would prevent people who are registered sex offenders from going into libraries, from going to schools, from going to the fairgrounds when the fair is on,” County Manager Ira Dove said.
“I think it’s good. They need to stay away,” parent Amber Williams said.
“I think once you’ve committed a crime against children, there’s no going back,” parent Heather Russell said.
The law is named after Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old girl from Gastonia, who was killed by a sex offender after she moved to Florida in 2005.
The new law also bars sex offenders from going within 300 feet of places like shopping centers or other public places used mainly for the care or supervision of minors.
Not everyone thinks the law is fair. The North Carolina president of “Reform Sex Offender Laws” said it’s overly restrictive, narrowly interprets “sex offender,” and calls the restrictions “unconstitutional deprivations of liberty.”
“There must be some scrutiny, some level of scrutiny that protects people who are no longer under any court order, who are no longer serving any kind of time,” Robin Vanderwall, President of the North Carolina chapter of Reform Sex Offender Laws, said.
“I understand it in that perspective. But, I still don’t think…I mean…doing better or not…they still did what they did,” Russell said.
Opponents of the law plan to fight it.
“Our essential hope, legally speaking, is to finally put the state up against the wall when it comes to the presumption of dangerousness,” Vanderwall said.
Parents remain resolved.
“No kid needs to be around that. It’s awful. It is,” Williams said.
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