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June 25, 2011

Tough new sex offender law goes into effect July 1

Gov. Robert Bentley recently signed legislation making Alabama’s sex offender registration laws tougher.

The new legislation, which goes into effect July 1, requires registered sex offenders to check in with local law enforcement quarterly while applying tighter monitoring requirements.

The old law required registered sex offenders to check bi-annually.

“This is going to create a significant increase on workload and cost,” Cullman County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Max Bartlett said. “But anytime you can keep better track of the sex offenders in the county, you’re better off. Our goal, and the legislators’, is to keep the kids and people out here safe.”

The new law, which is 96 pages long, not only changes how law enforcement agencies monitor the movement of sex offenders, but it also applies stiffer penalties — a felony charge — to those who fail to comply.

It also applies hefty penalties on those help hide or unlawfully employ registered sex offenders.

“It’s now a Class C felony for aiding and abetting a sex offender,” said Capt. Edward Potter of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office. “Also, if a daycare or someone hires a sex offender to work near children, that person will also receive a Class C felony.”

Another significant change to the law is how sex offenders convicted in other states will be labeled when registering in Alabama.

According to the new law, if a registered offender was charged with a sex crime classified as a felony in another state, they will have to register as a felon in Alabama.

“We’ve had a problem in the past with sex offenders from other states coming into the state with what’s sexual misconduct here, but it’s something else over there,” Bartlett said. “Now they fall under our guidelines. If it’s a felony there, it’s a felony here.”

A few other significant changes to the sex offender law include:

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