Monday, January 14, 2008

Minnesota to limit work distances

Legislator wants to limit where sex offenders may work

By Elizabeth PerryTuesday, December 11, 2007 12:32 PM CST

A bill state Reps. Cynthia Davis, R-19th District of O'Fallon, and Jane Cunningham, R-86th District, of Chesterfield, plan to introduce in the next legislative session would limit where convicted sex offenders may work.

The bill would prohibit convicted sex offenders from working within 3,000 feet of places where children congregate, including a school, park, library, day care center or public pool, Davis said.

Davis said she will present the bill to the state House of Representatives on Jan. 9, the first day of the coming legislative session.

Davis said she was inspired to sponsor the bill because of a story she heard from day care owner Mike Price.

A detective stopped by Price's day care to ask if he knew that a registered sex offender lived nearby. The detective also told Price a different convicted sex offender worked across the street from his day care.

"It's necessary for us to react with additional safeguards," Davis said.

Price said he couldn't believe there was no law limiting where registered sex offenders may work.

"Well, we're going to make one," Price said.

Price asked Davis to write the legislation.

If you can restrict where they live, Price reasoned, "you better be able to restrict where they work."

In 2006, O'Fallon adopted laws making it illegal for convicted sex offenders to live within 3,000 feet of public libraries, pools and schools, and within 2,000 feet of day care centers and parks. This made 67 percent of the city uninhabitable to convicted sex offenders.

The state statute prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet or those areas.

Currently, registered sex offenders are required to tell police where they work, but there is no law forbidding where they may earn money, O'Fallon police spokeswoman Diana Damke said.

"The world is becoming a much more dangerous place, particularly with the proliferation of Internet pornography," Davis said.

Maggie Menefee, executive director of The Child Center in Wentzville, an organization that works with police to help sexually abused children, commended the lawmakers for trying to protect children, but urges caution.

"I'm not against what they're trying to do, but I just want people to think about the education process and how adults and parents are ultimately responsible for the protection of their child," Menefee said.

The Child Center provides free educational seminars on sexual abuse prevention to schools. For more information call 636-332-0899.

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