Local News

State Lawmakers Consider Crackdown on Sex Offenders

Posted April 3, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— State lawmakers are considering several bills that would force convicted sex offenders to register with the state and require the state to make information on offenders' whereabouts available to the public.

Some parents, however, say even if the tougher laws are created, they won't do enough to protect victims.

Currently, sex offenders convicted or released before January 1, 1996 don't need to register in North Carolina. While the state must make some changes in order to comply with federal law, the bill now before the State Senatestilluses January 1 as a cut-off point.

Lawmakers and parents both want to protect children, but where they differ is in the methods used to do so. Ginger Bish's daughter was molested by a convicted sex offender. She says laws need to be tougher.

Bish says she is going on a hunger strike until lawmakers take the January 1, 1996 cut-off date out of the legislation. She says a perfect example of the laxity in current law is a little girl whom police say was recently abducted in Charlotte by a convicted sex offender from California.

State Senator Fountain Odom, (D-Charlotte), says he has high hopes for the new legislation.

Odom, who is sponsoring the bill, says he wants it to be as strong as possible, but says there may be constitutional issues surrounding the cut-off date that will have to be considered.

The proposed law would also remove the names of sex offenders from a national registry if they stay out of trouble for 10 years. Many parents believe there should be a life-long registry for such offenders.