New Rules for Sex Offenders

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Law enforcement is cracking down on sex offenders.

Newly-enacted laws have changed where offenders can live and some say it’s causing even bigger problems.

Sex offenders can't live within 2000 feet of a school, daycare, or any facility that entertains children.

So their housing options are limited anywhere, but even more so in a city like Dothan.

In his more than a decade in law enforcement, Assistant Houston County Jail Commander James Brazier has seen his share of sex offenders.

"We're looking at about 200, but in the state of Alabama you're looking at 13,000," said Brazier.

That's 13,000 convicted sex offenders and several more that aren't registered.

“I have deputies that go out and check the residence and do periodic checks on our sex offenders,” said Brazier.

Those checks are necessary.

In Birmingham, cluster laws prohibit convicted sex offenders from living together or in a close proximity.

The reason… Experts say the housing arrangement attracts crime.

"We have people calling here saying we have 2 or 3 people living in the same place, well it's approvable as long as they're outside the 2,000 foot range," said Brazier.

Part of the new law states a convicted sex offender can now live with a minor, as long as it meets certain criteria.

"That law adds siblings and step-siblings, so it would be easier for a sex offender to find a place to live."

Having a conviction is tough enough, but public scrutiny is sometimes worse.

"Once you hear the word sex offender everybody automatically thinks someone messing with a child, but it doesn't necessarily mean that," said Brazier.

Other changes to the law...include if anyone is caught trying to help a sex offender evade police that person can be charged with harboring.

And the consequences are severe… a Class C felony.

Brazier says if you suspect someone is a sex offender contact your local law enforcement agency.

Houston County Sheriff's officials will attend a workshop next week on how to prosecute and monitor sex offenders.

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