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State Lawmakers Consider Crackdown on Sex Offenders

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Ginger Bish, mother of molested child.
RALEIGH — State lawmakers are considering several billsthat would force convicted sex offenders to register with the state andrequire the state to make information on offenders' whereabouts availableto the public.

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

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

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

Bish says she is going on a hunger strike until lawmakers take theJanuary 1, 1996 cut-off date out of the legislation. She says a perfectexample of the laxity in current law is a little girl whom police say wasrecently abducted in Charlotte by a convicted sex offender fromCalifornia.

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

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

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

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