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Iowa Ponders Smarter Sex Offense Registry

April 8, 2009

qctimes.com (Des Moines) : Legislative committee ponders loosening of sex offender residency laws.

A working group studying a rewrite of state laws dealing with sex offenders is discussing the possibility of eliminating the residency requirement for all but those who have committed the most serious offenses against children.

Law enforcement officials have complained that the residency requirement, which prohibits some sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare, is too difficult to enforce.

The law left large areas of many Iowa cities off-limits and sent some sex offenders scrambling to find places to live. Law enforcement officials also said it was difficult to prove offenders were breaking the law.

The latest proposal includes new “exclusionary zones” that would prohibit registered sex offenders from gathering or working in places such as parks, daycares and schools or other areas where groups of children might be found. All registered sex offenders would be subject to the exclusionary zones and restrictions on where they could work.

Sen. Keith Kreiman, D-Bloomfield, said the hope is to provide more safety to the public. A 10-member bipartisan committee has met behind closed doors to hash out possible changes to the law. (contact them!)

Rep. David Tjepkes, R-Gowrie, said the working group was looking for a plan that would make Iowa’s laws pertaining to sex offenders more effective and assure as much protection for the public as possible.

“The 2,000-foot rule, I think, to a large degree is proving to be very unworkable,” Tjepkes said.

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