Oklahoma has long protected schools, day care centers and parks with “zones of safety” aimed at keeping convicted sex offenders away from potential victims. But a case in Bristow brought attention to a loophole in the law—a loophole Sen. James Leewright, R- Bristow, and Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Depew, are working to close this legislative session. Senate Bill 1221 was approved unanimously by the full Senate on Monday.
“There was a situation in Bristow where a convicted sex offender actually moved in next door to his victim. As you can imagine, this was an extremely traumatizing situation, but current law doesn’t prohibit it,” Leewright said. “The victim, Danyelle Dyer, and her family were forced to go to court to seek a protective order, but we wanted to permanently address such situations through our statutes.”
Current law prohibits sex offenders from residing or loitering within a 2,000 foot radius of any public or private school site, education institution, children’s organization, playground or park. SB 1221 would expand the zone of safety to prohibit the offender from loitering within 1,000 feet of the victim’s home or from living within 2,000 feet of the victim’s residence.
“By coming forward, Danyelle has actually brought attention to a loophole that wasn’t just a problem in Oklahoma, but in most every other state as well. Since this legislation was filed, Representative Hilbert and I have been contacted from many other states hoping to enact similar laws thanks to Danyelle’s courage and advocacy,” Leewright said.
SB 1221 will now move to the House for further consideration. A similar measure, House Bill 1124, is awaiting a floor vote in that chamber.