Bill to tighten sex offender limits clears House panel


FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A bill that would add publicly-leased playgrounds to the list of locations off limits to registered sex offenders has passed in a Kentucky House committee.

House Bill 204 sponsor Representative Savannah Maddox, R-Dry Ridge, says the legislation is specifically written to ban future registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of such playgrounds and from entering those playgrounds without advance written permission.

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The prohibitions would only apply to registrants added to the state’s sex offender registry after the bill takes effect, if it becomes law.

“So we’re not going to be in a scenario here where we’re forcing folks to leave, or to move, or anything of that nature,” Maddox says. “We just want to make sure that we provide these protections moving forward.”

Current Kentucky law prohibits registered sex offenders from entering the grounds or living within 1,000 feet of schools, licensed day care facilities or publicly-owned playgrounds.

Representative Lisa Willner, D-Louisville, voted against the bill in committee. Willner, who is a clinical psychologist, said sex offender residential restriction policies have not been shown to be effective.

“I think that this addition actually moves us in the wrong direction for spreading accurate information about sexual abuse,” said Willner.

In her explanation of the bill before the committee, Maddox said she hopes that HB 204 “will be among one of the more straightforward bills that you will scrutinize this session.”

The bill now goes to the full House for its consideration.