Banned from the library

January 14, 2010
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First they were prohibited from living too close to schools and then public park bans became the norm. Now, one legislator hopes to ban registered sex offenders from public libraries. If they show up there to check out a book or work on legal documents for a case, they can be charged with a Class D felony. There is one exception – they can vote in the library if that’s where their polling place is located, but the bill specifies they need to hightail it out of there once their vote is cast. No dillydallying before or after voting.

I know the idea behind the legislation HB 1326 is the same as the other bans imposed on sex offenders: to protect children. But are these bans creating a slippery slope where soon sex offenders won’t be able to leave their homes?

Children congregate in lots of places – churches, shopping malls, restaurants. Will we have to enact legislation to ban registered sex offenders from these places? I guarantee you there are sex offenders working in malls and restaurants – just visit the state’s online database of sex and violent offenders to see for yourself.

I am in no way trying to downplay the seriousness of the crimes these offenders commit against innocent children. We need to protect children as best we can from becoming victims, whether that be vigilant about knowing who lives in your neighborhood, not letting your children play or walk alone outside, or in other ways.

I know that not every sex offender can be “cured” or rehabilitated in prison. But I also know that they have served their time and that unless our legislature wants to impose tougher and longer penalties against those who commit sex crimes against children, our society is going to have to find a way to deal with sex offenders interacting with the general public.
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