Bill seeks to close loophole discovered in Oklahoma statutes after convicted sex offender moved next door to his victim.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation has been filed that seeks to close a loophole in Oklahoma statutes that allow sex offenders to live next door or near their victim.
House Bill 1124, by Rep. Kyle Hilbert and Sen. James Leewright, looks to change Oklahoma statutes to include the residency of the victim of a sex crime to the list of places that have a “zone of safety” around them. In Oklahoma law, the “zone of safety” is a 500-foot area around places that sex offenders are not allowed to loiter. However, the zone around a victim’s residence will be 1,000 feet if this bill passes.
“You should feel absolutely safe in your own home,” said Hilbert (R-Depew). “A town can have multiple schools, parks, and daycares, but normally, the offender’s victim only has one home. It is not too much to expect an offender to stay 1,000 feet away from one location.”
This particular loophole was discovered when convicted sex offender Harold English moved next door to his victim Danyelle Dyer. Since that time, Dyer has begun advocating for the law to be changed.
“Danyelle’s courage and commitment will make sure that another Oklahoman doesn’t have to experience what she has had to during this ordeal,” Leewright said. “Not only has Danyelle made Oklahomans safer, but as word spreads, we expect the remaining states to follow suit and make all Americans safer.”
The legislation is set to be heard next session. Like all legislation, it will begin in committee and work its way through the legislative process. However, optimism is high that bipartisan support will see this bill pass quickly.
The bill has the full support of Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R- Adair).
“Existing statutes are intended to protect potential victims from sexual predators, but this bill’s intent is to protect those who have already been victimized, who have been molested, been harmed and suffered at the hands of one of these offenders,” Bergstrom said.
“I was surprised to learn that 44 other states currently face a similar loophole in their own statutes. As the bill is written, it would require the predator remain, or perhaps even live, at least 1,000 feet from the victim. I hope that buffer zone is extended even further as the bill moves forward through the legislative process,” Bergstrom said. “For some people, it would be better if the buffer was 1,000 miles and not just a few minutes’ walk. I support Senator Leewright and Representative Hilbert’s work on this bill. I’m glad to see them taking steps to protect victims from further harm.”