Parents Push to Ban Sex Offenders From Parks
Shoals Bureau Reporter
4:09 PM CDT, July 5, 2010
Sex offenders aren't allowed in Hanceville city parks any longer, and people in the Shoals think it should be that way all over the state.
Last week, the Cullman County city council voted unanimously to prohibit people convicted of sex crimes from being on city park property. While one city council passes an ordinance to ban sex offenders from public parks, some parents in Florence believe a ban isn't enough.
They want a state law making it illegal for convicted sex offenders to hang out where children and families play.
Currently there are 80 registered sex offenders living in the quad cities. Parents at Deibert Park in Florence say parks are places sex offenders just don't belong.
The last thing Jennifer Blair says she wants to think about when taking her two kids to the park is whether a registered sex offender is around. That's why Blair says banning them from parks is a no-brainer.
"You're not going to change a sex offender. Once they do it, they're going to do it again. It may take time, but it just takes that one little click and they're going to do it again," said Blair.
Blair and other parents at the Florence park agree that it's time a statewide law was passed that would prohibit registered sex offenders from setting foot inside city parks.
Out of all four Shoals cities, Sheffield has the most registered sex offenders at 30. Florence has the next largest number at 23. 20 registered sex offenders have home addresses in Tuscumbia, and in Muscle Shoals, seven are listed.
"It actually scares me," said Blair. "Being from California, I do have my guard up, so I'm aware of my surroundings, but some people aren't."
Parents at Deibert Park say they're ready for lawmakers to step up and take action before any damage is done. If nothing else, Blair says photos of registered sex offenders should at least be posted at city parks on a sign, to make people visiting the park more aware.
"If it was posted at the actual park they go to, they'll know who it is who's sitting next to them or walking by them in the park and then be more aware and be able to put their guard up a bit more," said Blair.