OKLAHOMA CITY Two state legislators are working together in a bipartisan effort to keep sex offenders away from schools and parks. Representative Kevin Cox and Senator Jonathan Nichols have both filed bills that would criminally proscribe convicted sex offenders from either living near schools or entering the vicinity of schools or community playgrounds.
Representative Kevin Cox, D-Oklahoma City, filed HB 1501, which would keep sex offenders from owning property within 2000 feet of schools. Senator Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, filed SB 558, which would create a "zone of safety" to prevent sex offenders from driving by the perimeter of schools and playgrounds.
"I want to keep these predators from even hanging around places where children learn and play," said Senator Nichols. "Unfortunately, predators are attracted to where their prey are active, and this is horrifying when you consider we are talking about our children."
According to Senator Nichols, who is a former prosecutor of child abuse cases, state law does not prevent a convicted sex offender who has completed his or her probation or parole from being on community playgrounds or driving around schools.
"I actually had this situation occur in my district and was shocked to discover that sex offenders could own property around schools," said Representative Cox. "House Bill 1501 would keep this potentially dangerous situation from ever happening again."
"How can parents feel safe sending their children down to the neighborhood park, if the law allows these predators to hang out at the playground," questioned Senator Nichols. "We must make the safety of our children a top priority, and keeping these predators away from schools and parks is an important measure in the safety of our children."
Representative Cox and Senator Nichols are co-authors of each other's legislation. "I am committed to doing all that we can to making our schools and parks a safe place for children to learn and play," said Representative Cox. "And I appreciate this opportunity to work in a bipartisan effort with Senator Nichols to make our neighborhoods and schools a safer place for our children."
Both bills have passed out of committee and are set for a full vote by the State House and Senate.