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Lawmakers Backing a Bill to Register Sex Offenders

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A Florida sex offender Web site
RALEIGH — Everyone wants to stop child molestation, butno one seems to know exactly how to go about it.

North Carolina lawmakers are backing a bill which would require sexoffenders to register their whereabouts with the state, but not everyonethinks it will work. Most lawmakers are in favor of it. It has passed theSenate judiciary committee, but a lot of parents say it doesn't go farenough when it comes to protecting children.

At the other end of the spectrum is the American Civil Liberties Union which says the bill is the wrong way to solve the problem.

Debbie Newhart is a concerned parent. She says parents can only do so muchand that something needs to be done to offer protection when parentsaren't around.

Parents say convicted sex offenders could be waiting for yourchild. If North Carolina passes a sex registry bill, sex offenders herewill soon find themselves on a web site like one in Florida.

But some parents say the bill has no teeth because it only requiresthose released from prison after January 1, 1996 to register. Newhartknows first hand. Her family was affected by a perpetrator convictedbefore the cut-off date.

The ACLU believes lawmakers' support is merely political grandstandingand that the bill doesn't really get to the heart of the problem. NorthCarolina ACLU Director Deborah Ross believes the bill will give people afalse sense of security. She believes it will divert people's attentionfrom where most child abuse happens-- in the home.

The ACLU would rather see more tax dollars going into counselingoffenders than the registry. Parents would like to see the bill gofurther, becoming retroactive to include offenders prior to 1996.

The full Senate is expected to take a vote this week.A house committee is also considering the bill.

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