Sex offender restrictions in Oklahoma were made even more stringent earlier this year with the passage of Senate Bill 2064, which expanded the “zone of safety” in which registered Oklahoma sex offenders are not allowed to enter. While supporters of the bill claimed that strengthening restrictions against sex offenders protects the safety of potential victims, opponents say that the problems associated with such harsh penalties for conviction of an Oklahoma sex crime make it nearly impossible for registered sex offenders to make a new start. Being branded as a sex offender comes as a consequence for a broad range of sex offenses: a registered sex offender may be a violent child rapist or may be someone convicted of a crime as seemingly minor as indecent exposure in Oklahoma. Despite the varying degrees of the offense, all sex offenders are subject to the same restrictions as far as the penalties imposed under the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry.
According to one local news report, under the “zone of safety” requirements of Oklahoma sex offender laws, eighty-five percent of Oklahoma City is off-limits to registered sex offenders. Because of these restrictions, finding affordable housing and gaining a fresh start is virtually impossible for registered Oklahoma sex offenders who have completed their jail sentences. However, the housing dilemma for Oklahoma sex offenders is not the only problem created by expanding the zone of safety. Many police officers report that enforcement of the law is difficult, and that such residency limitations actually make it more challenging to protect the innocent. According to some officers, once the safety zone was expanded, sex offenders facing the daunting–if not impossible–task of finding housing simply failed to register. Once they “disappear” from the radar, police say, the task of protecting the public from Oklahoma sex offenders becomes much more complicated.
One Oklahoma City news station reported on the failure of Oklahoma sex offender safety zones:
Because these severe restrictions impact all individuals convicted of sex crimes who are forced to register as an Oklahoma sex offender, it is vital that those charged with such crimes seek immediate counsel from a skilled Oklahoma sex crimes lawyer who can help protect the rights and maintain the freedoms of the accused.