Ward-sponsored sex offender bill passes House

FROM STAFF REPORTS

A Sen. Cam Ward-sponsored bill aimed at bringing more stringent sex offender regulations to Alabama passed the Alabama House of Representatives, and is now awaiting Gov. Robert Bentley’s signature.

If signed, Alabama Senate Bill 296 will require sex offenders in the state to adhere to more stringent registration and notification standards.

Ward previously said the state’s previous sex offender reporting laws contained a “number of loopholes.” Under the previous law, sex offenders who were considered homeless were “almost never” required to register with the state, he said.

The new law would require homeless offenders to register weekly until they establish a fixed residence.

The previous law could have lead to a scenario in which a sex offender could end up living in the same residence as their victim, Ward said.

The new law would also prohibit a sex offender from “establishing a residence with a minor if the offender’s sibling was his or her victim or if the sex offender was convicted of a crime involving force against a minor.”

The new law also will give Alabama residents more ways to search for sex offenders in their areas. When sex offenders register, they will be required to report more information, which will allow law enforcement officials to provide more information to citizens who conduct sex offender searches in their cities.