Home > Local Government, News, Politics, State Government > Sen. Griffin, Rep. Casey announce legislation to protect children from convicted sex offenders

Sen. Griffin, Rep. Casey announce legislation to protect children from convicted sex offenders

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Following a ruling by a Pawnee County district judge, Sen. AJ Griffin and Rep. Dennis Casey said today that they will introduce legislation to protect children in Oklahoma towns from convicted sex offenders who reside close to playgrounds and parks.

Oklahoma Senator AJ Griffin

Oklahoma Senator AJ Griffin

Thomas Stewart Madewell Higgins was convicted in Pawnee County District Court in February 2014 of sex crimes against a minor and was granted probation by District Judge Jefferson Sellers, over the objection of the District Attorney’s Office.  Following his release from jail, Higgins moved to a residence within 2,000 feet of a playground owned and supported by the small Pawnee County Town of Terlton. Eighteen days after his release from the Pawnee County Jail, Higgins was arrested and charged with unlawfully residing within 2,000 feet of a public playground. Convicted sex offenders are prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a playground or park if it is established, operated or supported in whole or in part by city, county, state, federal or tribal government.

Judge Sellers ruled June 11 that state law prohibiting convicted sex offenders from living next to playgrounds and parks supported by city, county, state, federal or tribal government did not apply to Oklahoma “towns.”

“The goal of the original statute was to create a zone of safety for Oklahoma children, no matter the size of the community they live in,” said Griffin, R-Guthrie. “I am more than ready to pass additional legislation if that’s what it takes to make sure child molesters don’t evade prosecution due to a technicality.”

“The legislature will surely take swift action to keep convicted sex offenders from moving into small, rural towns where they could more easily gain access to our children” said Rep. Casey, R-Morrison.

Currently, sex offenders who are convicted for unlawfully residing next to parks, playgrounds and schools face 1-3 years in the state penitentiary.

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